What is augmented reality? & Why do businesses need an AR strategy?
We live in a three-dimensional world struggling with two-dimensional technology. Even though it has been very helpful, we continue to make decisions and process our actions in 2D application screens and web pages.
Augmented reality is a promising technology that acts as a bridge to explore unique human capabilities. Augmented reality has long been proven successful through the infamous Pokémon Go app in 2016 where Pokémon characters overlapped in outdoor environments.
A year later, Apple launched its ARKit platform and Google offered prototype APIs for free. With its growing popularity and the support of the tech titans through huge investments, we now have Microsoft HoloLens, the supposed Apple AR glasses, and many other technological advancements making their way into our daily lives.
AR is fast becoming the new interface between the digital and the physical worlds. Tech giants such as Amazon, Facebook, General Electric, Mayo Clinic, are already implementing AR and are seeing growth in experience, quality and productivity.
In this article, we will dig deeper into the different solutions and examples of how companies can deploy augmented reality in their business strategies.
What is augmented reality?
Augmented Reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real world environment where objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes through multiple sensory modalities.
As the name suggests, it is a technology that enhances reality by overlaying digital data and images in real environments. Today, AR experiences are popular on smartphones, which helps visualize the augmented world. There are many AR entertainment apps such as Snapchat filters, Pokémon Go and other futuristic video games.
Augmented reality can be exploited via mobile phones, screens, headset mounting screens and very soon go hands-free augmented reality smart glasses.
Although augmented reality offers immersive experiences, they are do not totally immersive like virtual reality (VR).
How is augmented reality different from virtual reality?
While augmented reality displays images through cameras or smartphones, virtual reality needs specialized VR headsets such as HTC Vive, Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard. Users can be transported to multiple real and imaginary environments using virtual reality.
I consider [AR] like a big idea, like the smartphone. The smartphone is for everyone, we don’t have to think that the iPhone is about a certain demographic, a country or a vertical market: it is for everyone. I think AR is so big, it’s huge. I am excited about the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives. – Tim Cook
Use cases of augmented reality in various industries
Augmented reality, in addition to being an entertainment tool, is now used in multiple ways in consumer-centric and B2B-based setups. By 2021, every industry has found a way to move away from traditional methods to improve productivity and bottom line. Some of the common use cases include:
Augmented reality in e-commerce
AR helps millions of consumers make informed decisions before purchasing products on e-commerce applications. They can now preview products or enjoy services in the desired environment.
Etsy, an online buying and selling marketplace, now uses the power of augmented reality to sell more than five million art and collectibles items. IOS app users can now bring any wall art piece on Etsy to life and visualize its size, look and feel in their home or workspace.
IKEA, one of the first companies to dare to use AR in its app, now offers libraries with thousands of furniture and 3D augmented reality apps that integrate them into a view of a real room, allowing customers to see what the furniture and decor will look like. in their homes.
Improved printing and marketing with augmented reality – AR image recognition and tracking
AR is now on a mission to revive and improve print and 2D communication and replace them with interactive content.
From direct mail to flyers, postcards, posters, magazines, educational books and everything in between, you can apply augmented reality to almost any type of print media.
Wonderwest, a fashion brand, used AR postcards to engage and increase sales within its existing customer base for its new fall product line. They used an innovative direct mail campaign using postcards that come to life with augmented reality.
Users can benefit from promotional discount offer by scanning the postcard via the cameras of their smartphone which opens to a WebAR solution without any application. When image tracking is enabled, 2D video reflects the perspective of postcards.
They could add value with custom call-to-action buttons that direct users to the Boot Barn e-commerce website. With a 39.25% click-through rate, they could increase sales of the “Wonderwest” product line.
Augmented Reality in Retail Stores – AR Navigation
Using beacons or visual markers, also called AR markers an image can be recognized using applications based on Apple ARKit and Google ARCore. This makes it possible to position, map and render precise directions in tall and low-rise buildings, such as airports or retail stores. This is called AR navigation.
Target uses the tags for its in-store mapping feature in the Target app, as well as showing nearby deals to shoppers. The map also shows the aisles which indicate where the products are located in the store. Consumers can tap a product in the app and see on the map both where the item is located and where they are in relation to it.
AR Filters Boost Social Media Marketing
Before the success of the Pokémon game, Snapchat had already based on AR Hanging filters that could follow and change a user’s face with quirky additions like dog ears, baby eyes, glasses, and even full makeup.
Instagram and Facebook launched their Studio Spark AR in 2019, allowing anyone to create and share their own filters. These exploded filter trends not only engage and entertain, but also help brands connect with their customers using powerful messages.
Brands like Coke and Pepsi have used AR filters to promote their marketing campaigns.
Makeup filters, gamified AR filters, brand-based photo frames, and fashion and lifestyle-based filters are popular among social media apps.
Transforming Events Using Augmented Reality – AR Live Streaming
Event planning touched a new chord when AR entered the scene. According to a study, 88% of event creators used augmented reality events in 2018.
Event planning of auto giants like Mercedes, art exhibitions, press conferences and even groups are turning to AR live broadcast events.
Recently, in the COVID lockdown, Oneplus, the infamous smartphone maker, unveiled its Nord series at the world’s first-ever augmented reality smartphone launch thanks to its OnePlus Nord AR app.
Read more: Latest trends in augmented reality!
The future of augmented reality in business
With the above mentioned use cases across various industries, the most relevant and needed application of augmented reality is in the retail industry. This sector needs new brand selling capabilities as there is a decrease in foot traffic and restrictions in stores.
By introducing AR functionality into their existing apps and websites, they can improve their customer experiences. By merging real and virtual experiences with quality 3D visualizations, businesses can make in-store purchases from the comfort of the user’s home.
Believe it or not, the statistics also agree with this notion because,
All end-of-day augmented reality technology is personalized, enhanced, and marketed with one goal: to improve our ability to quickly and accurately absorb information, make decisions, and complete required tasks quickly and efficiently.
Explore the world of AR. Enter a window of new opportunities.