Our 21st century technology has gradually produced numerous channels for digital escapism, but none have pushed the boundaries more than recent advances in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).
Since its release in summer 2016, Pokémon GO made a splash in the arena of smartphone AR. As an entertainment brand born in the formative years of the millennial generation, Pokémon stretched across video games, playing cards and other merchandise. The AR iteration, however, where players individually or in teams visit real-world locations to “capture” monsters, became the most downloaded mobile game app in 2016 with mass appeal for social connectedness through a nostalgic experience.
Many brands are already developing ways to integrate digital- and real-world engagement to shorten the journey between browser and buyer. Here are a few examples of brands that have already undertaken experiments in AR:
Moxie, an Atlanta-based marketing company, decided in 2017 to forego sending out the traditional holiday cards and candy to clients and vendors. Instead, it decided to experiment with the interactivity of augmented reality with “rapping” giftwrapping paper. With the help of a local muralist and recording artist T-Pain, Moxie sent AR wrapping that, when using the company’s Gift Rap app, featured a singing animation all over the pattern. Such a feature might have made it more difficult to rip up the paper for any gift found inside.
Ikea is pushing the limits of AR by bringing the retail browsing experience directly to your smartphone. Want to see how a coffee table might fit in your living room, or how a futon will look in a guest bedroom? The furniture maker has created a free app that allows users to use their cameras and view any of more than 2,000 products as though it were appearing in a room. The app, called Ikea Place, uses data picked up by your camera to map objects in a room to render a 3-D image of a product at scale with 98 percent accuracy. An AR application like Ikea Place has the potential to streamline the furniture shopping experience – removing the longtime woes of measuring spaces, comparing fabrics and colors, and seeing how the products look in the home only after buying them.
Porsche is aiming to improve its technician services with a set of AR smart glasses used in a process called Tech Live Look. In the event that a technician at any Porsche dealership can’t immediately determine a car’s problem or find the solution, they can use the smart glasses to link with the support team at the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta. The smart glasses include a high-resolution camera that can examine very small objects among the vehicle’s parts as well as LEDs provide illumination in dark crevices. The support team in Atlanta can send instructions and other assessments directly to the glasses, thus preventing a technician from wasting time with opening an email on a remote computer. With this system, customers can expect to get their cars back faster as the eight dealerships that have implemented this technology have decreased resolution time by 40 percent.
As VR’s focus is largely shifting toward the future of gaming, AR is headed toward disrupting the norms of daily life. Advances in technology and their applications in retail shopping and the producer-consumer relationship will dramatically improve the overall customer experience for a growing number of industries in the near future. Agencies today need to bring clients ideas and examples of how the brand experience can be richer and more personal via AR and VR applications.