AR or Augmented reality uses your smartphone’s camera to turn the real world around you into a different reality.
AR works by using computer vision and tracking through your camera to anchor a virtual object to a physical point in your environment.
But even with all the potential, you can imagine for technology like this, the quality of the experiences so far meant as a side business instead of an e-commerce business game changer.
Augmented Reality: Not new but widely improved
The term “augmented reality” was firstly used in the first 90s. It was developed by the U.S. Air Force’s Armstrong Labs and involved a complicated setup that looked like this.
Since then, there have been different attempts—like the AR glasses by Google that lets you view augmented reality on the go. But these never became a mass product—the technology and the market just weren’t ready for wearable AR.
But that wasn’t the case for mobile AR. An example can be the Snapchat’s Lenses and the extremely successful location-based game Pokemon Go that allowed the user to familiarize with the concept of interacting with virtual objects through their smartphone’s camera in what was the first solid and tested example of AR completely embraced by customers.
The technology was really far from perfect, though. The AR objects couldn’t adjust in size, this was due to an unperfect evaluation of the algorithm that perceived distance objects nor it would stay in place.
As a result, you could still easily distinguish between real and augmented reality.
But everything changed when Apple announced iOS 11—giving developers the ability and the tools to create more realistic AR experiences—where the virtual (added) objects that “augment” the reality were nearly indistinguishable from the real ones.
And with it, augmented reality’s potential has moved beyond the games and started moving towards architecture and interior design.
Bringing Products to Virtual Life
Perhaps the biggest commercial opportunity within these improved AR experiences is how they give us a better sense of scale and let us closely evaluate products as if they were right in front of us.
The best commercial opportunity within this augmented reality is the chance it gives. We can now choose a better approach to shopping by directly seeing the product we want to buy in our real environment.
“Will this painting fit with the hall?”
“How will this lamp look on my desk?”
Instead of hesitating on this decisions, customers can simulate every purchase scenario possible into their own homes through their smartphone.
This was the result:
“This technology allows users to check and control the peculiarities that make that given product unique,” James says. “We always want to surprise our customers with this amazing service and experience that we provide”
The fantastic opportunity to virtually place products everywhere you want leads to a more informed and exiting buying experience.
“Thanks to AR, online shoppers will now have the answers to: How will this piece look in my home? How big is the item in real life? What does the inside look like, or the back? At the end of the day, nothing tops the in-store experience, but AR provides the capabilities for guests to make equally informed buying decisions from afar, at all hours of the day.”
Your Smartphone Camera: An Augmented Mirror
For other businesses, AR is not only for shopping or home decoration but also for your own appaerance.
Now you can use your front camera as a mirror so you can use AR that lets you answer the question, “I wonder what this would look like on me?”
Since facial features are approximately equally placed, fun applications of this technology on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat have already become popular through social media.
But besides the puppy feature on snap chat, some businesses are using this technology in a more practical way.
Eyewear and cosmetics immediately come to mind—two types of products that you’d want to try before you buy.
That’s why, earlier this year, Sephora updated its app with a “virtual try-on” feature that lets you sample their make-up against your specific complexion. Eyewear companies like Glasses.com have also experimented with a similar feature in the past to virtually try on different styles of glasses.