Looking for the perfect chaise longue? That’s no easy feat even on the best days, but the process is made even trickier since stores rarely seem to have their full collections on display. That’s precisely the problem a San Francisco startup called VizeraLabs is trying to tackle, and its team has built a curious little projector to help. You see, instead of displaying reruns of Doctor Who on your wall, it’s used to project different fabrics and finishes onto whatever surface it’s pointed at, be it a wall or an armchair.
Let’s say you’re at a furniture store and see a couch you like. It has the number of seats you need for your living room and the cushions are comfortable. But the model in the store is cotton, and that just won’t do — you wanted leather. How are you supposed to know if you like how it looks in person? At stores with Y Combinator-backed VizeraLabs’s projector installed, you can instantly see what every fabric looks like on a display model. The company wants to replace the books full of different fabrics you can look through at furniture retailers with a projector paired with Microsoft’s Kinect hardware and pretty much any device that can connect to its growing database of materials and patterns in the cloud. At least, that’s the idea. It’s not quite the same experience as being able to feel the material, and while it looks good from a few feet away, you’re not going to be fooled up close.