Not long ago, the present-day capabilities of Augmented Reality (AR) technology existed primarily in the minds of futurists and science-fiction writers. But now, this technology is making a noticeable impact on the field of marketing.
Here at FARM, we strive to stay ahead of current marketing trends so that we can leverage the latest tools and technologies to help you stand out from your competition. Our very own Innovation Team is dedicated to researching, testing, and employing such technologies to gain a sense of how they influence marketing techniques and tactics. Recently, we started exploring the possibilities of AR and were fascinated by what we found.
From its first commercial application in 2008—which saw a 3D display of a MINI Cooper “popping out” of a 2D magazine ad—to shopping for all your home’s furniture with the IKEA AR catalog, AR is changing the way people engage with companies’ products and services.
So, what exactly is AR technology? Well, it’s different from Virtual Reality insofar as it doesn’t create simulated environments that aren’t actually there. Rather, it enhances your physical surroundings by overlaying virtual elements—either through devices like Microsoft HoloLens and Atheer AiR™ Glasses, your smartphone’s camera view and an AR application, or even specially designed mirrors outfitted with innovative software.
As can be imagined, retail marketing is one area in which AR technology has made significant inroads—mainly because there are so many ways to incorporate it into the sales process. After all, haven’t you ever wanted to shop for clothes and accessories without having to go through the hassle of trying on every color, style, and brand just to see how it looks—and feel absolutely confident in your selection? Now you can, and it’s just the beginning.
The Memory Mirror™, developed by California-based startup MemoMi Labs Inc., first debuted in 2014 at the National Retail Federation expo and has since appeared in a number of luxury department stores. Promoted as “the world’s first digital mirror,” it enables consumers to capture images and videos of themselves trying on clothes, makeup, and eyewear, and to then control what’s displayed on the mirror via simple hand gestures or a companion mobile app. It shows 360-degree back and side views as well as a split-screen view for comparing two looks simultaneously, and has social media sharing capabilities—so you’ll never again have to ask a stranger how something looks on you when shopping alone.
Never one to be left behind, the automotive industry has also begun testing the limits of AR technology in marketing. In early 2015, Czech car company Škoda put the U.K.’s largest indoor digital signage screen to good use by installing an AR set up in London’s Waterloo Station to advertise the new Škoda Fabia. The setup, which consisted of a pair of iPad Air tablets and a Fabia car seat in front of a green screen, allowed users to design their own car by customizing an array of features using the tablets’ touchscreens (for a total of 130 different combinations). After choosing a design, users sat in the car seat and watched as their personalized car appeared around them, piece by piece, on the giant advertising screen.
Such scenarios would have been unthinkable in years past, but are now becoming more commonplace. As AR technology continues to develop, its uses will expand and, eventually, it will be an integral part of the personal shopping experience and we’ll wonder how we ever survived without it.
If you’re exploring ways to enhance your brand’s marketing via new technologies, send us a message. We may have already looked into making your marketing dreams a reality, or we’ll let our Innovation Team loose on it to determine if the “next big thing” could be the key to making your next big impact.
Tom Stearns, Proofreader and Jamie Garcia, Art Director