The AR Industry and Experiential Marketing

11th October 2019

Augmented reality (AR) technology has, over the last few years, began to creep it’s way into experiential marketing. The most widely embraced form of AR, for many young people, is the use of face filters and virtual objects imposed into Snapchat and Instagram photos or videos. While this use of AR is enjoyable and fun to share with friends, it does not capture the full capabilities that current day AR tech can offer various individuals and businesses. 

2018 was a break-out year for AR that saw many companies beginning to develop and implement various forms of augmented reality to enhance certain processes or solve different problems. Before we discuss the different ways AR is changing our everyday life, lets first bring everyone up to speed on what exactly is AR is and how it works. Don’t worry, we won’t be getting too technical (we’ll leave that to the software engineers). Think of this as more of an introduction and brief breakdown of the current state of AR in 2019. Hopefully, this will help you generate ideas of how you can implement AR into your own business or everyday life. 

So, What is AR? 

Augmented reality changes the real world around a person by adding layers of digital information onto the user’s field of view. Not to be confused with virtual reality (VR), AR does not transport the user to a new environment but rather enhances the real-world space they are currently viewing. AR can add a number of sensory effects such as sounds, images, 3D objects, landscapes, even virtual humans. The developer can use any number of these effects in combination with each other to create countless different experiences for the end-user. Simply put, AR is used to change a user’s perception of reality using computer-generated effects. 

Although companies like Google and Microsoft have been working on sets of glasses and headsets to facilitate the implementation of AR applications, the majority of AR enabled apps have been developed for mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets. These applications utilise the camera lens and screen on a user’s device to create a real-time view of the user’s environment with the addition of specific effects. Today they are four main types of AR: 

  • Marker-Based, 
  • Markerless, 
  • Projection-Based, 
  • and Superimposition-Based 

Marker-based AR 

Also known as image recognition. AR of this form needs a special logo or visual maker placed in the real world for the AR application to impose effects. The AR device scans the real world and calculates the position and orientation of the maker to position the computer-generated effect. This anchors the effect on the viewing device and allows for the content to consistently be experienced by the user. For example, magazines can print pages with special AR logos or QR codes that allow readers to superimpose a specific 3D object or model into the pages of the magazine – a great way to make an impactful advertisement. 

Markerless AR 

Also known as location or position-based AR. This category of AR makes use of a device GPS, compass, gyroscope, and accelerometer to provide real-time information based on an individual’s location. By using this form of AR, businesses can provide ad pop-ups and visual cues to individuals based on their location. 

Projection-based AR 

Projection-based AR imposes images or models into the real world for users to interact with but unlike marker-based, projection-based AR does not need a marker to project the content onto. This form of AR broke into the mainstream in a big way when Niantic released its massively popular AR video game Pokémon Go in 2016. This was many people’s first experience with A/R technology and proved how engaging A/R experiences already are. 

Superimposition based AR 

This form of AR supplements the view of the real-world with additional information and content. Object recognition plays a large role in this form of AR and allows for information, instructions, or content to be projected based on what the user is viewing. 

Uses for AR we are excited about 

As technology continues to advance, AR images and content are increasingly becoming more realistic from both a visual and interactive perspective. This advancement is allowing for more companies to find uses for AR. Based on a 2019 report on the state of current AR technology, PTC reports that the largest proportion (26%) of AR utilising firms are hailing from the industrial sector. The main use of AR in these firms is to supplement the training process and help reduce the shortage of skilled labor they have suffered.

The social media companies previously mentioned (Instagram and Snapchat) have implemented AR into their apps and rely heavily on experiential marketing, but with a much different intention than that of firms operating in the industrial sector. The roll-out of AR functionality in social apps allows people to change their face or surrounding environment and create fun expressions to share with their friends.

This form of AR can be thought of as entertainment AR. Both the educational and entertainment functions of AR highlight the core of what augmented reality is offering to society; enhanced ability to convey information and expression. Based on its ability to couple education and entertainment, the team here at HoloMe believes that AR technology is the perfect tool for experiential marketing.

The ability to tailor a user’s environment to reflect the emotion, information or experience a brand wants to elicit, is an extremely powerful tool for driving customer acquisition and conversion. For example, by partnering with ASOS, HoloMe is ready to showcase the first use of virtual model holograms in the fashion industry. ASOS customers are going to experience human holograms modeling clothing products in their own home or chosen environment. This has helped create an Interactive checkout experience and thus improves conversion rates.

By being on the cutting edge of AR technology in your industry, your business will benefit from customers viewing your brand as an innovator and will direct their attention to your site to experience the brand-new technology. 

AR technologies are providing your business the ability to generate excitement around and engagement with the products or services you are offing, all while helping to create a unique and impactful brand experience. 

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