Augmented Reality leapfrogged from being a concept to a problem-solving technology when Volkswagen, in 2013, inspired the rest of the world by using it to innovate vehicle service manuals.
Since then, it has been a promising growth for the technology. 2018 has been a rocking start for AR with Apple and Google paving way for a bundle of opportunities in bringing AR to mass audiences. Predictions and facts suggest AR to become a million dollar market very soon.
Is it overhyped? Is the market ripe for its adoption yet? Or, will AR take its own sweet time to live up to its expectations? A reality check is much needed for a better clarity and this blog will help you do that.
AR projectile 2018 – Adoption of ARKit and what ARCore promises
Launched in September 2017, ARKit, Apple’s SDK for augmented reality, is serving as the measuring scale for AR’s adoption. According to Apptopia, an app market intelligence company, hardly 1,000 apps have installed ARKit which is far less compared to around 3,000,000+ apps in the store. But Apple’s latest official reports have confirmed the number to be close to 2000 apps.
Another report from Apptopia claims that less than 2% of new apps added to the app store are bothering to get ARKit. This clearly doesn’t hint the downslide of AR instead shows the steadily growing grip of the technology.
ARCore will soon be into the scene. Google has promised that its exclusive Augmented Reality SDK built for Android devices (ARCore v1.0) will soon be launched in the coming months with support for over 100 devices.
This opens up a wide range of possibilities for brands to cater to their users using Android devices. Currently, the Pixel franchise and Samsung Galaxy S8 are the devices which can facilitate AR experience.
Current limitations of AR
Though AR promises to be a Eureka moment for advertisers and brands to augment customers and redefine consumer experience in online shopping, the technology, as of now, has certain limitations too.
AR brings the virtual perception to life by helping us view the 3D virtual versions of physical objects but the quality of the virtual images is a matter of concern. With more time and given the fact that the technology is constantly evolving, AR can bring real-life like images as augmented models.
Yet another limitation that’s being challenged is the hardware. The nascent stages of AR had smart glasses which were too heavy and expensive. With time, glasses will become more lighter (actually wearable).
AR is still missing out to VR in the immersiveness quotient. With smart glasses getting commercially viable and enhanced with hardware and software capabilities, AR will soon become more immersive. As a matter of fact, AR experience will not be limited to smartphones alone anymore.
Till then, end users will continue to face augmented reality through smartphones. In terms of smartphones, both Google and Apple are working on making the device understand the real world more accurately and adaptively like understanding the location of floors, walls, lighting of the room and more.
Consumer experience that makes AR undeniable for brands
AR helps consumers to visualize how a product will look like from wherever they are. AR not just limits them with imagination rather aid them in virtually mounting real size 3D model of products to derive a better idea on what to choose and what not to.
61% of the consumers would rather buy things at e-shops that offer augmented reality, than at ones that don’t.
Visual is everything when it comes to online shopping be it fashion or any physical product. What if your visualizing capability is limited only to a single 3D model for a product that has several variants? AR achieves that too. The visual attributes like size, color, etc can also be customized while viewing a product’s augmented version.
Marketing and Branding:
AR can help brands tell stories better. Imagine a restaurant that wants to augment customers and chooses the AR route to do it. Using marker-based AR, the restaurant brand can reveal offers and special discounts for users through an AR video. How cool would that be?
Storytelling becomes all the more easy as augmented reality provide more realistic view as it can cut more than just skin deep when it comes to being explicit.
On the whole, brands can deploy augmented reality to take care of an entire lifecycle of a product right from marketing to selling. ‘Trying before buying’ gives shoppers, a better clarity on choosing the appropriate products, thereby reducing returns a great deal.
Industries that’ll springboard AR growth
There’s no doubt that eCommerce (with a few offline industries) will be the industry that’ll catapult AR into day-to-day use making it a household name very soon. Well, that’s on a broader note. There are certain specific domains that have inspired many businesses to adopt AR.
Fashion is visual. Earlier, it was visual recommendation engines which innovated the way shoppers search for clothing and accessories. Now, it is time for augmented reality to take the lead. Brands like Lenskart.com have already adopted AR-based virtual try and buy solution for buying eyewear online.
On the other hand, Amazon Fashion, has got patent for a mirror for trying outfits virtually. Using mirrors, screens, displays, projectors and cameras, Amazon creates augmented backgrounds and projects a physical appearance of the person with virtual models of the outfit chosen providing a hybrid reality experience.
For tech savvy cosmetics lovers, ‘try and buy’ makeup kits wouldn’t be a new thing from now on. Sephora is one of the cool examples that provide virtual grooming experience. Sephora allows users to try different makeup looks, lipstick colors, eye shadows, eyelashes and more. Customers can match the color of the outfit they are wearing with makeup and even take a picture of how they look and share it with friends.
Furniture / Home decors:
Furniture, interior designing companies and home decor brands make use of superimposable augmented reality. The augmented 3D models of furniture, lamp shades, ceiling lights enables users to place the actual sized virtual rendering into their environment. This allows users to plan areas to place products where they best fit and match colors as well.
Showrooms, brick and mortar stores:
The era of endless aisles is already here. Showroom executives can provide demos even without actually having a product in stock. Car showrooms can benefit from showcasing virtual models of automobiles. Adding graphics to it can bring in more engaging experience like opening doors, adjusting seats and more.
In a nutshell:
Augmented Reality is witnessing a steady progress in terms of adoption and this is likely to improve with the launch of ARCore. With hardware capabilities and software counterparts constantly evolving, augmented reality will continue to revolutionize consumer experience and eventually find several other use cases.