Augmented reality - games on the edge of virtuality (part 2)

Digging deep into the historical antecedents of AR in the first part of the article, Indeema is pursuing the subject with explanations and predictions.

Do people trust their smartphones? The rhetorical question. Look around. Children, teenagers, millennials, and elderly are tapping, swiping, waving, dragging, and twisting being stuck to their gadgets around the clock. This is more than utilizing or exploitation, this is love and addiction. Needless to say people trust their gadgets - they enthusiastically accept almost everything the digital content may offer. Gadgets connect, support, assist, amuse, and help to be aware of the fluxing cyberspace events come and go. No doubt, everybody appreciates special treatment and customized solutions. In case the precious device offers audience new advanced empowering tools enlarging users abilities and enforcing their confidence, nobody would afford to ignore.

Augmented reality is changing the consumer experience. People all are customers in this consuming-oriented capitalism. The new customer experience augmented with grasping digital content broadens horizons for both consumers and sellers.

 

Discovering new channels

The ones being still far from AR might put it down for the science fiction or the financial level of business monsters like BMW, for example. For them together with skeptics Indeema proposes to check some AR applications already available and often free. Of course, augmented reality has just started the global invasion. Otherwise, this article would have no rhyme or reasons. Taking the liberty of vaticination about the trends of further AR development, Indeema is going to play with only a few opportunities. The following bullets tickle some AR challenges fueling ambitions and sparking the interest to the infinite promises of AR. However, they are hardly unrealistic pipe dreams. The strong proficiency in mobile application development imposes responsibility of being sane to make predictions sustainable. So:

• BMW approach. Such high-consideration products as furniture, automobiles, building materials, and similar require being visualized primarily allowing buyers’ creativity to participate in the process. AR software utilizes cameras and sensors of mobile devices for the spatial awareness. Composing virtual object into actual scenes, buyers can get realistic feedback of the products’ correspondence to their environment. Such AR features as opening and closing doors, turning lights on/off, pressing buttons, changing colors, and adjusting in-room location make customers more confident while selecting semi-custom or high-consideration products. The exciting experience along with enhanced confidence makes customers more appreciative and loyal i.e. easy-going to spend money and accept the price. Such companies as BMW, IKEA and L’Oreal have already provided their customers with AR applications intensifying online and offline services’ experiences. They proved able to recognize the inspiring power of augmented reality. And inspiration matters.

• Visual marketing for product retailers via supermarkets and shopping malls. Augmented digital content appears over physical products on shelves informing customers about the inward features and advantages. It can include the expiry date, nutritive composition, caloric content, healthy recommendations, compatibility with other products etc. Besides, a mouth-watering 3D picture of ready-to-eat meals along with relevant recipes can encourage purchasing even if that contradicts the customer’s diet. The interactive content could not only inform and motivate customers, but also entertain and amuse keeping them to stay longer in the shopping area. The longer customers stay in a shop, the bigger amount of products they can embrace, and the more money they spend.

• Turning yesterday into tomorrow for publishers. It would seem the paper books’ days are numbered. Digital format’s domination headed with Kindle is to leave ordinary books for completists and public libraries. However, smartphones with AR applications can retrieve the traditional printed materials implementing them into digital environment. AR matches placed on paper pages can introduce augmented visual and sound effects to readers via smartphone applications. Such an amalgamation of digital and print can change the reading behavior making paper books extremely amazing especially for children. The issue concerns also students encouraging them to have a good time in the libraries. Librarians together with publishers should recognize the hint. Besides, Google is working over the project of ‘Media Enhanced Pop-up Book” with their Tango AR platform.

• Advertising agencies are getting a second wind. Those who participate, arrange, or simply visit different promotional events such as exhibitions, forums, and conferences can recollect those heaps of paper appearing in trash baskets afterwards. Advertisers are forced to admit the humble effect of traditional visuals on printed business cards, booklets, posters, leaflets, and other advertising materials. However, a really progressive design agency from London leads the way implementing a promotional AR project for Istanbul Chamber of Commerce for a prestigious real estate exhibition! We bet, no one would think to throw away such AR cards.

• Brand awareness is a must. Another option was demonstrated by Volkswagen, which went even further involving one of the most famous German newspapers with total circulation of about 400K copies to promote VW with AR elements imprinted into the newspaper’s sheets. Besides, VW took the similar approach for 160K booklets distributed to main German hotels and restaurants. Imagine the audience occupied with the campaign! If worldwide easily recognizable Volkswagen is so passionate about its brand awareness, why don’t smaller others pay particular attention to AR technology which attracts advertising agencies with boosted circulation?

• Beauty industry’s evolution. Each place where people modify their appearance always faces the challenge of clients’ hesitations while selecting the hairstyle, nails color, or piercing beads’ shape, for example. AR application is able to show the final version or results via the customer’s smartphone. It concerns every business requiring preliminary try-on. No booklet, dummy, or blandishment comes even close to the ‘alive’ visualization. First steps have been already made by a tattoo design AR application. Eliminating frictions and enhancing customers’ confidence by means of exciting AR experience, beauty salons could gain much stronger competitivity along with customer retention.

• Zoo animals invite. Tourism industry has been already involved into AR environment somehow. Interactive murals on popular buildings augmented with sightseeing content or AR traveler guides provide tourists with geographically-relevant information. However, such places as zoo and National parks seem to possess the great AR potentiality to provide visitors with amazing augmented content. The interactive animal-related information appearing on smartphone screens right above the live creatures can add educational information without redundant academicism. And how about a great shot hugging a real grizzly with no need to enter the cage?

• Sweet nothings play the game. Entertaining aspect of smartphone usage could not be discarded. The game industry opened up a new level of the online-offline synergy with such AR games as Pokemon Go. Another pretty amazing AR app offers hide-and-find AR messages left on the physical landscape with smartphones. Lying somewhere in the middle between a game and GPS navigator the JamesBond-like experience pushes people outdoors.  Such applications balancing on the edge of reality and virtuality are destined for greatness in the sense of having fun. Imagine, for example, how long can you stay in front of a mirror using smartphone camera-driven AR app to try such scenarios as "me-in-a-red-dress", "me-with-blue-hair", "me-anorectic", or "me-and-Johnny Depp".

See also: MOBILE TRENDS IN 2016: PEERING INTO THE FUTURE

The abovementioned opportunities hardly compose 1% of the potentialities inherent in augmented reality apps. The matter is accelerated by developers’ creativity against digital market demands. Indeema predicts that AR will soon become a compulsory standard for mobile applications worldwide. The trend is obvious, and in a year or two, no one would even recollect that AR was considered questionable someday. In order to eliminate customers’ hesitations and procrastination as to AR implementation, we relentlessly echo Apple invoking: “Don’t think average, think different!”.

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