Today, Augmented Reality, undoubtedly, is one of the emerging technologies that enterprises are keen to adopt to take user experience to a whole new level and accelerate overall growth. Among the industries, Retail comes out as one of the front runners in adopting Augmented Reality to maximize Business-to-Business and Business-to-Customer transaction experience.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how Augmented Reality is reshaping the Retail industry, let’s get a straight understanding of what really Augmented Reality is, and how it is revolutionizing the business landscape of the retail industry.
What is AR?
Augmented Reality, commonly referred to as AR, is not a new technology as most presume it to be. In fact, AR is around for quite some time, had taken several avatars, failed and succeeded, to reach the stage where it is now.
The AR technology was born in the late 60s, created by Ivan Sutherland of Harvard University. Though Computer Science was already in place at the period, the concept of AR was much ahead of its time. The first AR experience was the fusion of a geometric grid over a real view of a room. Man’s quest to intersect virtual and real world was born.
AR can easily be confused with VR (Virtual Reality). Since both dabble with virtual components, it’s not hard to see why. However, these both are different technologies offering different experiences.
Virtual Reality on the one hand is a technology that is immersive in nature. It is completely artificial, and is a computer generated simulation, experienced best through the VR glasses. A flight simulator will go down as a fine example. One the other hand Augmented Reality is a concept that blends the virtual reality into a real-time environment. The best example will be the Pokemon Go, well if you haven’t checked it, check it now to get a better understanding of AR.
Augmented Reality in Retail
Given to the nature of the business, the concept of blending computer generated text, graphics, video etc., is becoming an attractive option for retailers – both brick-and-mortar outlets and online – to take the user experience to a whole new level.
Here are some of the biggest names in the retail industry that have leveraged AR to the fullest.
Lego has become a household name, thanks to the movies and games. Though Lego is a well-established retailer, it decided to push the limits with the Augmented Reality technology. Lego introduced AR technology for its in-store kiosks in 2010.
In 2015, Lego X app was born. This time the bricks were sensor and gyroscope-enabled to create 3D models on the device, where the software can track and render them as you proceed to design – all in real-time. With the help of Augmented Reality, Lego was able address one of their crucial pain points – converting 2D projections into 3D models.
Using Augmented Reality, L’Oreal was able to up the visual impact of their merchandise manifold. The European branch of L’Oreal, through AR technology, were able to accurately depict how their merchandise – in this case a computer generated life-size 3D model – would fit into a real environment (the salon).
By this way the salon owners were able to aptly gauge the placements and fully understand the visual impact of the merchandise.
You love IKEA products, but have trouble visualizing how that cool, trendy sofa would fit into your tiny living room? Looks like that problem went out of the window ever since IKEA went AR.
In 2013, IKEA released its VR App where customers can place their favorite products in the real world background of their house or office to see how well it suits. All they had to do was to launch the app, capture an image of their room using their smartphone camera, then place the variety of IKEA products to see how it would fit in the environment.
The power of AR has made the lives of IKEA customers so easy!
If IKEA can revolutionize furniture purchase through AR, Converse, the famous American shoe manufacturing company, planned to do the same with shoes. Ah, you must’ve got the picture already.
And you’re right! Converse is showing us that’s how shoes will be tried – not in the future – but now!
The AR powered Converse Sampler App allows you to see in which shoes you look cool, without even practically touching the shoes. It’s a classy app which allows you to sample (rightly named there!) your favourite models using just your smartphone. Just select a shoe model and aim the phone camera to the foot, and bingo! The virtual shoe is now on your foot.
Trying shoes were never this easy, ain’t it?
After all this do think the Japanese would just stand and watch. No way!
Enter Uniqlo, a Japanese designer, manufacturer and retailer of casual wear goes a step ahead in creating a cool Augmented Reality trail rooms for their customers. Its understandable how time consuming – and always a bit of a struggle – to get into that new attire you’re planning to buy.
That’s where Uniqlo becomes unique. They have built a trial room consisting of a mirror with LCD attached. All a you have to do is just select a casual wear and the Augmented Reality lets you see how that apparel looks on you. It gives you the option to change colors too.
Trying out casual wear gets faster and easier!
Be it a online store or an outlet, with the advent of the Augmented Reality, retailers are coming out with innovative ideas to showcase their products, and are rapidly bringing AR technology in their fold. What seemed a bit of stretch a few decades back is now a reality. With evolving AR trends, the line between virtual and real world is indeed blurring, and retailers are ready to push the boundaries with mind blowing concept of Augmented Reality.
Want to power up your retail brand with Augmented Reality? We can help you accomplish.