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Laurence Clayton-Trotman
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Harnessing New A.R Tech for Unique Digital Experiences

Augmented Reality (AR) has seemingly leapfrogged the hype that surrounded virtual reality in a few short years and yet consumers still aren’t seeing the full benefits of the technology. What does a consumer know about or want from AR? What is AR’s potential and how can brands harness it for unique experiences?

The announcement of Google Glass back in 2012 introduced the term ‘augmented reality’ to many, but considering you had to buy dedicated hardware and its everyday usefulness was questionable, it was only really early-adopters in the tech community who bothered to pay it much attention. It got people talking, but didn’t put the technology in the hands of the average consumer.

Fast forward to Apple’s debut of ARKit. A software development package which baked an augmented reality platform into iOS 11 firmware in September 2017, now millions of iOS device owners had the tech overnight for free, which helped create the market conditions ripe for brands to take advantage.

    Forecast augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR) market size worldwide from 2016 to 2022 (in billions $)


The biggest hit was, and still is Pokémon Go, which took Pokémon’s popular global brand and married it with AR, creating a compelling game offering that generated more than 100 million downloads and $268 million in revenue by August 2017. The game centres around real-world locations and rewards users for visiting them and battling with their characters on-screen to earn rewards. AR is pivotal to the game concept.

Apple’s Tim Cook said in a Vogue interview, “I don’t think there is any sector or industry that will be untouched by AR”, a trend that industry forecasts also show, with gaming predicted to be the primary application of AR technology.

Forecast distribution of the augmented and mixed reality market worldwide in 2022


Ikea’s “Place” app allows users to browse the catalogue in-app and preview how an item of furniture will look in their own home using AR. Mobile5 delivered an app for Pepsi that upon recognising the Pepsi Max logo, delivers football-themed AR content for a campaign, allowing users to play and interact with the brand.

Other Examples of How AR is Being Used in Different Industries Include:

    • Media, entertainment and travel companies helping customers envision future trips or travel back in time.

    • Construction and design firms presenting how finished structures could look and feel, letting customers walk through virtual buildings to experience what hasn’t even been built.

    • Utilities and telcos using AR-driven data overlays to help field-service technicians carry out maintenance and repairs.

    • Car manufacturers using AR/VR to create virtual models of cars and collaborate on design changes, as well as giving customers augmented-reality brochures.

    • Manufacturing businesses using digital overlays to display equipment health to plant managers.

But what’s the latest in AR tech?

The debut of Apple’s ARKit 2.0 in June 2018 brought new features for brands to harness. Front and centre in Apple’s keynote was the ability to have multiple devices render and recognise the same AR objects - enabling really cool applications of multiplayer gaming. What’s more, they worked with industry giants Pixar and Adobe to create a new AR file format, creating a new industry standard, which will no doubt aid adoption. This means users will be able to download an AR object from a website for example and use it in their own environment.

Apple showcased a great retail realisation of this feature, whereby a guitar enthusiast could download an AR version of a guitar from an e-commerce store and preview it in their own home. This could be extended to fashion so users can preview clothes, nail art, hairstyles and so on (much of this is already emerging.)

It seems AR is on the cusp of becoming a new form of mass media as consumers are becoming more aware and more accustomed to using the technology already in their pockets.

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