Augmented Reality is changing our lives as we speak

sep 14, 2020

This article was written by Niels Østergaard, Creative Director and Head of Purple Scout Denmark 
https://www.linkedin.com/in/nielsøstergaard/

Augmented Reality is changing our lives as we speak

It was probably twenty-five years ago that the first experimental augmented reality (AR) test was conducted and used in labs/research, but it’s matured and come a long way since. The biggest examples that the world has seen in the last decade are of PokemonGo, Snapchat lenses, the IKEA Place app, ARkit/core, and the Hololens and Magic leap glasses.

The AR technology is changing so rapidly that things that weren’t possible 6 months ago are possible today. Take Web-based AR as an example where we can now showcase AR directly from any smartphone browser without having to download a native app; this would have been impossible to do earlier. But why is this technology working so well and why should the world be interested in it?

Benefits of using AR

There has been a ton of research conducted on AR in different scenarios which have proved that memory retention in AR advertisements is 70% higher than other advertisements. Another aspect that adds to this retention is that the average dwell time for AR ads was found to be 75 seconds i.e. 4 times that of a video on your phone.

In the business world, AR and 3D visualisations should also catch your attention since Shopify revealed that 3D visualisations seem to boost conversion rates by 200%. It’s not a surprise that Deloitte found out that 88% of mid-market businesses are actively using AR as part of their marketing strategies.

AR in everyday life — as a brand and a consumer

This simple gamification of being able to select a lamp, switch its colour to match the aesthetic, switch between different models of lamps and find the perfect fit helps you have an emotional connection with the piece of furniture. You, as a brand, are checking all the points by making your customer’s journey as smooth as possible, and you, as a customer, are now emotionally invested in the aesthetic of that beautiful reading nook and therefore, gently nudge them to buy the product.

When this simple solution is integrated into your existing eCommerce solution, you are essentially installing a one-click method to buy your product. In recent pandemic times, when everyone has been at home, AR has proved to be a great way to showcase your product and increase customer attachment to the brand.

Working with AR

AR technology can be challenging to work with since the wow factor can often blind you. A helpful tip is to think about the Why, What and How:

  1. Why do I want to use AR?
  2. What are the added values I’m giving the user?
  3. How do I implement it?
Video courtesy: Purple Scout ApS

A good example of this is the ‘Social distancing AR filter’that we made at the start of the pandemic.

WHY — because AR can show you things you can’t see or measure in real life.

WHAT — it helps the user to understand how much 2 meters is and nudges them to practice social distancing.

HOW — We knew that we had to implement it fast and if possible, let it spread virally. So we chose social media filters on FaceBook and Instagram so that everyone had access to it.

When making solutions like these, the most important aspect is the How. A great solution with appropriate benefits to the user will never reach the right users if the medium has been inappropriately targeted. For example, if your target is a young age-group, the media selected should be one that is frequented by that age group.

Digital twins and the future

The 3D models used in AR are often accurate digital copies of your product (usually by converting from CAD or production-ready 3D models). These digital copies are also called digital twins. These digital twins open up the possibilities for creating easy-to-use guides or user manuals with AR-technology. We are now even able to recognise real-life objects and overlay instructions on them. It won’t be long before customers will expect to be able to test their products digitally before purchasing them.

One of the biggest potentials of AR-technology is by adding data to the mix. A large part of any smartphone is the visualisations and ability to create a personalised experience of data. There are already a lot of tools and apps that make use of your location to personalize your experience. Some examples are Google Maps or Amazon centring a map around your location, Yelp showing you where to find shops or restaurants by near you, or Endomondo keeping a track of your running routes.

AR technologies definitely have the potential to become even more personal and empower you by knowing about your preferences and placing data in the right place and at the right time when you need it as a user. But its important to understand when this becomes too much.

Avoid Augmented Overload

Imagine a world where the visual experience is no longer simple shapes or icons but augmented life-like visualisation integrated into our world. Your digital experience will become a natural part of your environment, augmenting real-life objects (and people) with instant and relevant information, placed at just the right time and positions.

As designers, developers, and creators building the interfaces of the future, we need to build user experiences and enhanced environments that don’t just integrate new ways of visualisation and interaction. We have the responsibility to take into consideration the effect these interfaces will have on us and make sure they don’t overwhelm us. The video below is a great example of what Augmented Overload feels like.

Hyper-Reality by Keiichi Matsuda

This is an overwhelming amount of AR. This kind of a world will lead to an overload of information and become more of a cognitive burden than a boon to society. It will add to the daily stressors that we already go through with the number of tasks we have, the choices we make as we go through a normal day, etc. An easy way to combat this is by using the Why, What and How technique.

Conclusion

Augmented Reality is a game-changing technology that, when adapted correctly, can lead to huge benefits for businesses and enhance a customer’s journey. Understanding why you want to use AR, what benefits it will give the end-user and how you want to implement it, helps when creating a targeted solution. As we speak, digital twins are taking over the online marketplace and showing positive results. The real question is, when are you making a move into AR?

Try some examples here at Purple Labs and place AR objects in your home!

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