Apple Takes Augmented Reality Mainstream

A brand’s fantasy can become reality with Apple’s new ARKit.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll remember last summer’s Pokemon Go craze. Hordes of gamers were glued to their smartphones, sometimes risking life and limb, to locate, capture, and battle creatures that virtually popped up within a player’s scope of vision. This augmented reality feature was one of the key reasons Pokemon Go quickly became a global phenomenon.

Augmented Reality, or AR, is a type of technology that superimposes computer-generated images directly onto what users see right in front of them. This technology is starting to gain popularity as brands begin to discover how effective AR can be in engaging consumers. However, both cost and technological complexity have resulted in barriers to entry for many companies.

Apple is working to make AR more accessible through launching their ARKit in Fall 2017. This augmented reality kit will allow developers to quickly and easily build AR experiences into their apps and games. With an update to Apple’s iOS 11, consumers will be able to access the ARKit’s framework through their existing iPhone or iPad. The cameras, processors, and sensors all work together to allow for virtual objects to be placed within a user’s surroundings in an incredibly realistic fashion.

The possibilities for this new and easy to use technology are seemingly endless, with companies already capitalizing on its potential. IKEA recently partnered with Apple to develop an app using the ARKit, which aims to simplify the furniture shopping experience. The app will allow users to virtually place IKEA furniture into their existing living space, using true to life colours and dimensions. The ARKit will be able to detect a room’s layout, including corners and horizontal surfaces, in order to place the digitally produced objects within the room. This object will remain stationary, even while users move around their immediate setting, and can even cast shadows as if it was a physical object in the user’s field of vision. No more lugging around tape measures or making those pesky return trips to IKEA. Consumers will be able to plan the layout of an entire room without ever leaving it. Moreover, consumers can purchase all of the furniture they test through the app without ever stepping foot in an IKEA showroom.

The IKEA model illustrates how effective AR can be in creating meaningful brand interactions that can translate into sales. Even outside of retail, AR can have widespread connotations for a variety of industries. AR technology has already revolutionized the gaming world. With gamers’ propensity to share their strategies and wins through social media channels, it’s only a matter of time before AR is at the forefront of public consciousness.

 

TOM’S GUIDE ATTENDED AN APPLE ARKIT DEMO AT THE LATEST WWDC

 

While the novelty factor will eventually subside, there’s little doubt that AR enhances the consumer experience and has great potential to increase brand engagement. When investigating ways to incorporate AR technology into your content plans, avoid the gimmicks, and focus on ways to genuinely enrich the connections your customer’s make with your products or services. Whether it’s allowing consumers to virtually test-drive a new car model, or allowing consumers to virtually try on the latest fashion and accessories, keeping AR programs relevant and memorable is imperative to converting trial into sales. Augmented Reality can help brands stay competitive and top of mind in today’s fast-paced digital environment.

How would you incorporate AR technology to enhance the consumer experience? Let us know @stjoseph.

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