What AR is, and why you should be excited

As augmented reality (AR) has continued to develop, we’ve watched it progress from an entertaining novelty into technology with the potential to revolutionise the way we interact with each other. The most recognisable form of AR today might be the face filters and virtual objects we see in Snapchat and Instagram, but this barely scratches the surface of what can be achieved. And we don’t mean in the future–we mean right now. AR can be used to make communication more meaningful, more impactful and more rewarding, today. 

Consider this article your intro to AR in 2020. We’ll explain what AR actually is, run down some of the most exciting applications of the tech today, and hopefully inspire you to think about how you might be able to implement AR into your own business or everyday life. 

So, what is AR really? 

Augmented reality changes the world around you by adding layers of digital information onto your field of view. Not to be confused with virtual reality (VR), which transports you to a new environment entirely, AR is all about enhancing the real-world space you occupy. This enhancement is achieved by introducing a range of sensory effects such as sounds, images, 3D objects, landscapes, even virtual humans into your environment to create countless different experiences. Simply put, AR is used to change your perception of reality using computer-generated effects. 

Although companies like Google and Microsoft have been developing wearable technology, such as glasses and headsets, that facilitate the implementation of AR applications, the majority of AR enabled apps have been developed for mobile devices–your smartphone or tablet. These applications use the camera and screen on your device to create a real-time view of your  environment with the addition of specific effects. Today there are four main types of AR: 

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

Marker-based AR 

Also known as image recognition, marker-based AR requires a special logo or visual marker placed in the real world to trigger AR effects on your device. The AR device scans the real world, calculates the position and orientation of the maker and then generates the intended effects. For example, magazines can print pages with special AR logos or QR codes that allow readers to superimpose a 3D objects or models directly into the pages of the magazine–bringing the content of the pages to life and making for super impactful advertisements. 

Markerless AR 

Also known as location or position-based AR, markerless AR uses a device’s GPS, compass, gyroscope, and accelerometer to provide real-time information based on your location. This can be used to seamlessly serve AR ads and visual cues. 

Projection-based AR 

Like marker-based AR, projection-based AR imposes images or models into the real world for you to interact with, but does not need a marker to make it happen. Projection-based AR may be one of the most widely recognised forms of AR thanks to Niantic’s massively popular 2016 AR game, Pokemon Go. Pokemon Go not only brought augmented reality into the mainstream – it showed just how compelling, engaging and impactful AR experiences can be.

Superimposition-based AR 

Superimposition-based AR supplements your view of the real-world with additional information and content. This type of AR relies on object recognition to allow information, instructions, or content to be projected based on what you’re viewing at a given time. 

Uses for AR we’re excited about 

As the technology continues to advance, AR content is becoming increasingly realistic in terms of both its appearance and its interactivity. And the more sophisticated AR experiences become, the more uses businesses are finding for them. Based on a 2019 report on the state of AR technology, PTC reports that the industrial sector accounts for the largest proportion (26%) of AR-using business. Industrial firms are using AR to supplement and enhance their training processes and tackle ongoing shortages of skilled labour. This is “educational AR”

Social media companies have implemented AR to add value to their apps’ user experience. AR functionality in social apps allows people to change their face or environment and generate content that deepens their online interactions with friends. You could call this approach to AR, “entertainment AR”. 

Both the educational and entertainment-focused applications of AR highlight the core of what the technology offers to society: a profound enhancement in our 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.

AR in 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, our ongoing partnership with ASOS showcases the first use of virtual model holograms in the fashion industry. ASOS customers are now able to view human holograms modelling clothing in their own home, office or even while sitting on a park bench. The immersive buying shopping experience we’ve created with ASOS has improved conversion rates and generated excitement around the brand.

It’s clear that businesses that position themselves at the cutting edge of the AR movement can benefit from being seen as innovators, generate considerable excitement around their brand and create unique and impactful experiences for their customers.

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