What is Augmented Reality?

What is Augmented Reality: Crossing the Augmented Divide

Maybe it’s us, but it sure seems like Virtual Reality is popping up everywhere these days. Don’t get us wrong, here at Pebble we are VR obsessives and that’s not going to change anytime soon. But, isn’t it about time we paid attention to VR’s equally brilliant and just as good looking pal; Augmented Reality.

Augmented Reality, to put it simply, is technology that layers computer generated imagery or enhancements atop actual reality. Imagine in the space around you, being able to flick through Netflix from an 80-inch TV in your living room. Or, rather than messing around with desktop software, making a 3D rendered model from your real desktop. Whereas VR often requires a snazzy looking headset, AR fits into your world without one – seamlessly integrating interactivity into your life.

Happy (belated) First Birthday HoloLens

You can’t really discuss augmented reality without mentioning one company in particular – Microsoft. Their HoloLens recently had its paper anniversary and is described as “The first self-contained, holographic computer, enabling you to engage with your digital content and interact with holograms in the world around you”.

Currently available in the US and Canada and weighing in at $3000, with its hefty price tag, HoloLens may not be the tech for everyone. But, in 2016, Microsoft revealed some projects already in its’ pipeline. Teaming up with Nasa, the space giants plan to let you rove around Mars whilst medical students are set to get a helping hand with anatomy classes. For the gamers out there, there’s even an AR version of Minecraft available in the augmented sphere right now.

 Snapchat. Taste the 3D Rainbow

Admit it, you love a Snapchat filter. There’s no shame in it. Are you a chubby cheeked Cherub? Or, perhaps you’re more of a floral crowned princess (guys we’re talking to you here)? Whatever filter you go to, it’s safe to say Snapchat have this area of the AR market covered.

Snapchat’s new ‘World Lenses’ launched earlier this year have added a new layer to this beloved app. Becoming a dancing Bumble Bee is all well and good but the addition of three-dimensional rainbows, clouds and flowers add an extra level of engagement and mark a new way for brands to interact with the socially savvy modern audience.

Augmented Retail

The retail industry is where AR comes alive as a branding tool. The two seem to go hand in hand. L’Oréal realised the potential of augmented reality and brought us ‘Makeup Genius’. While you gaze at yourself in the mirror (Narcissus eat your heart out), L’Oreal will augment a range of new make-up styles onto your face. With over 6.3million downloads, this AR app has undeniably been a success.

Not sure which pair of kicks would look best? Worry not, Converse created an AR ‘Sampler App’. Step into the world of AR and try on a pair of Chucks in a colour of your choice. With a quick click you can post your samples to social media, get your mates’ opinions and add them to your basket. Lace them up and you’re good to go.

The last in our AR retail roundup are Swedish furniture giants, IKEA. Never shy when it comes to innovation, it’s unsurprising to find out that they first joined the AR game back in 2013. The potential AR has to change the way we shop is clearly huge, but, perhaps one area it shows particular promise is in home improvements. AR gives users the ability to place furniture into their chosen space and play around with styles and layouts – ultimately creating the wonderful everyday.

Why choose AR?What is AR

With so many augmented applications out there and a whole industry hungry for new ways to engage with their audience, AR could just be the handsome stranger to whisk you off your digital feet. AR has been adopted by many brands –ranging from the ones above to the ones still yet to come.

It’s an incredibly accessible platform as it reaches its audience mainly through smartphones and apps. Beauty has bet on it and retailers are revolutionised by it. With further uses in interior design, architecture and learning, this tech is will change the way we do most things.  So with in mind, we’ve put together our handy top tips to help you decide if AR is right for you.

Our Top Tips 

  1. Reach

Consider audience reach. Although, it may not reach as many people as traditional advertising. AR is highly accessible through smartphones, laptops and tablets.

  1. Will it enhance customer experience?

AR needs to make an experience more fun, more convenient and ultimately easier.  If you’re a retailer, bear in mind that wondering around the shops with an iPad hoisted in the air is unlikely to catch on. Digital products shouldn’t replace physical ones; they should complement them. 

  1. The Bigger Picture

Think about your wider marketing strategy. Consider how it may weave into your existing marketing material – Could consumers interact with your ad in real time, simply by walking up to it and scanning it with their smartphone.

Amy Durrant

Amy Durrant

Amy is a copywriter and all round creative type at Pebble Studios. With bundles of agency experience at Karmarama and her past life as a music, technology and design journalist, she has a love for all things creative.

Creative, Pebble Studios

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