How AR is disrupting industries

7th June 2019
Joe Bush

Augmented reality (AR) is an area of innovation that can yield exceptional results for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Camera-based apps powered with AR offer high levels of engagement, availability on mobile, and a consumer-centred approach that provides experiences that are not just useful and problem-solving, but way more fun too. Dmitry Ogievich, CEO of Banuba, a computer vision startup specialising in augmented reality, explains further.

People love to share their lives with the world and brands can take advantage by broadcasting their message through the social media accounts of their own consumers. All it takes is to create an AR feature worth using and an AR experience worth sharing. However, using AR only for the sake of using AR won’t result in sales growth. It’s important to consider the entire consumer journey and think of how it can empower the most crucial business goals.

Entertainment / gaming
Being an inherently visual industry, it’s not hard to envisage how different entertainment mediums are using AR to enhance the user experience. The gaming industry has seen considerable success when rolling-out AR-based games - Pokemon GO caught global attention enabling users to roam the streets on the hunt for Pokemon - but it is still just scratching the surface of what AR can achieve. Whether it be gaming, film and TV or even music, if the creator wants to encourage greater interaction or wants the user to be able to access further information, then AR can help them achieve this. There is really no creative limit.

Interactive Product Visualisation - aka Virtual Try On Solution - has been one of the biggest e-commerce trends over recent years. Companies have been quick to embrace the technology, giving customers the ability to engage with products without having to physically enter a store. By empowering customers to make a more informed shopping choices, companies are encouraging greater customer loyalty and more online sales. Prime examples include IKEA Place and Amazon’s AR View apps, that give the answer to the question ‘Will it fit?’ helping buyers to choose furniture that fits and stylistically matches their existing interior.

Bricks and mortar retailers were already struggling to compete against online stores in terms of price and convenience, but the rapid adoption of AR has meant the advantage over online - customers being able to see, feel and experience the product - has waned. However, AR is perfectly positioned to enhance the in-store experience too, visualising products right on consumers in the store.

L’Oréal Paris has been making waves with their in-store virtual makeover tool, enabling users to test drive various products from lipstick to hair colour before making the decision to buy. The feature works with still images or ‘live’, making it all the more appealing to those who want to appreciate their new look in motion. Zara also recently launched an augmented reality store experience with models demonstrating the latest Zara looks as you point your phone at certain spots within the store.

An industry that has embraced the full scope of what AR has to offer is fashion. It has invariably found an application for interactive product visualisation in both retail and e-commerce, such as Gap’s Dressing Room helping users to find specific items and see which suits them best or the Moosejaw X-Ray app showing what clothes the models are wearing in its catalogue. However, brands have also been using AR to gain a broader outreach to their fashion events and campaigns, not just products.

Can’t attend a fashion show? The HoloMe technology can teleport you there through the live 3D runway experiences. Burberry introduced an augmented reality feature to let users digitally redecorate their surroundings with Burberry-inspired drawings and share the resulting picture with their friends on social media. At Paris Fashion Week, both the fashion show and fashion brands have been using an AR-powered app to promote filters and reveal hidden designs on models.

With AR’s easy availability on mobile, instant engagement, and the effect of virality, brands can successfully attract attention to their products using an AR marketing campaign. Uber made an unforgettable day for travellers with an interactive photo booth mirror that placed people into fantastic surroundings and making elephants, tigers, and kangaroos come alive at Zurich main station, whilst the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) have immersed people into a live polar bear experience.

The campaigns attracted public attention and were far more successful than regular billboards. Perhaps a more innovative example was when Nestle used augmented reality to create a cereal box that turns into a game, bringing to life something as simple as product packaging. The opportunities for marketers are endless, turning almost anything into an engaging AR experience.

Augmented reality makes the educational experience go beyond the walls of the classroom and ensures classes are more interactive for students. The more engaging something is, the more people will pay attention and remember the information. AR is being successfully deployed at all age ranges. The MathAlive app helps young children with the basic counting skills to learning letters with the help of Animal Alphabet AR Flashcards, whilst teenagers can benefit from apps like Elements 4D app where the user brings cubes together to find out if elements react and see the chemical reaction in augmented reality.

Augmented reality has even been used for highly complicated subject areas like medicine, where it has helped students learn about anatomy and even acting as a simulator application where students can practice surgery on virtual patients.

Property / real estate
By utilising a mobile camera-based app powered with augmented reality, real estate agents are able to offer unprecedented levels of engagement when showing a prospective buyer a house.

Sellers would be able to display information about the house from room sizes to window types or even whether a wall can be removed or not. AR would also enable users to visualise how their furniture would fit in the space and could help buyers to look past superficial things like wallpaper or flooring, as they could display a colour or material they prefer. Real estate agents would also be able to track how long a buyer has looked at and engaged with certain areas of the property. This would help them better address any concerns that the buyer may not have vocalised.

AR enables industries to create a consumer/user experience that is far more interactive and engaging than they could otherwise provide. Any industry is able to utilise AR and it is clear why the technology has become one of the hottest innovation trends.

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