Like any large retailer worth its salt, Ikea offers its customers a number of ways to check out its products from the comfort of their home.

Besides its comprehensive website, it also has a free app available for use on Android and iOS mobile devices. Unlike many other retail firms, however, Ikea still produces a printed catalog, with more than 210 million copies distributed around the world each year.

The furniture giant is now looking to fuse the printed catalog with its app, offering consumers an augmented reality (AR) experience which could prove fun as well as useful for those keen to learn more about a particular product.

Designed with the help of creative agency McCann, the new catalog will feature a special symbol (looking rather like the outline of a mobile phone) indicating products that offer an AR experience on a mobile device loaded with the Ikea app.

Users simply launch the app and hold their phone over the product on the printed page, launching a number of special AR features on their handset in the process. For example, you’ll be able to see inside storage cabinets and enclosed shelving units to discover more about their precise layout.

Videos about particular products, 3-D models and how-to content can also be enabled on a handset by interacting with the printed version of the catalog.

With a catalog that’s been in print since 1951 and now boasting a circulation more than 20 times the population of its home country, Sweden, the furniture seller is unlikely to dump its printed product list any time soon. Instead it’s attempting to breathe some new life into it by fusing it with its digital offerings, an innovative step which is likely to prove popular with fans of the store.

The new catalog and accompanying Android/iOS app will be available at the end of this month.

[via Wired]