In recent weeks, I’ve become increasingly interested and amused by the significant use of augmented reality (AR) in today’s digital world.
Investopedia defines augmented reality (AR) as the enhanced version of the real physical world and interactive experience, that is achieved using digital visual elements, sound or other sensory stimuli delivered via technology. Virtual Reality, on the other hand, is the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment that is very different and far from reality.
After several attempts, successful AR was first accomplished in 1992 by Louis Rosenberg called Virtual Fixtures. Virtual Fixtures was a robotic system designed to compensate for the lack of high-speed 3D graphics processing power and enabled the overlay of sensory information on a workspace to improve human productivity, according to the Interaction Design Foundation.
Pokémon Go, a free smartphone game released in 2016, incorporated incredible AR into its app, engaging users from all over the world. Pokémon Go became the most downloaded and top grossing app in just one week. The app required GPS location services and the devices camera to locate popular Pokémon characters in various locations. Once tracked down, characters would appear on the user’s screen in real-life by overlaying the digital illustration against the background via the camera. Pokémon Go indicated that there was a high demand for this level of technology from its users.
Fast forward to present day, AR is being used now more than ever. Fashion, retail, education, healthcare, and other industries are all discovering new ways to incorporate AR into their digital technology. At the end of 2020 it was estimated there were a total of 598 million AR active devices and this is projected to increase to 1.73 billion by 2024, according to research by ARtillery Intelligence. The augmented reality software market is also expected to reach $35.22 Billion by 2022.
Some impressive examples of how brands have leveraged the use of AR include the following:
Using the IKEA iOS application, users can see exactly what products look like in their own homes. Using true-to-scale 3D imagery, consumers can browse over 2000 IKEA products in various colors and dimensions to see what product works best before purchasing with the likelihood of return.
Walmart has decided to incorporate AR behind-the-scenes instead. According to econsultancy, Walmart announced plans in 2020 to turn four of its physical stores into test centers for their new inventory control technology. This new technology uses augmented reality to highlight inventory boxes that are ready to be moved, speeding up the time it takes to transport product from the back room the sales floor. Previously employees would have to scan each box individually to receive inventory status.
Adidas have improved the sneaker buying experience by enabling customers to virtually try-on potential purchases from anywhere. Using AR technology, app users can hover the camera over their feet and see what sneakers would look like on, in real-time without having to visit an adidas store.
Ever wanted to see what a shade of lipstick would look like on without having to try-on instore? Now you can! In our post-pandemic world, customers can no longer try samples/testers of makeup on instore and therefore brands like Sephora have needed to drastically adapt to these changes. Their ‘Virtual Artist’ tool lets users try on lipstick, foundation, eyeshadow and more in order to boost ecommerce sales without the hassle or time.There are many other impressive uses of AR available to public however, these were my favorite.
With many businesses and brands starting to focus on improving their online and digital efforts, it’s no wonder standards are rising for customers, but why AR? According to Perfectial.com, there are five benefits:
- Augmented reality attracts a broader audience as there is no need for additional devices.
- Augmented reality is a buzz-worth and noticeable technology.
- It makes the user experience noticeable.
- The interaction increases customer retention.
- Creates personalized content to improve engagement.
- I would also add that it creates customer loyalty.
With AR technology on the rise, it will be interesting to see what’s going to come to surface in the digital space next.