When you think about it, when was the first time you heard the word « Augmented Reality »? What sounded like a new geek trend at the beginning became an exciting digital topic in the last years.
But, let’s start from scratch, What is really AR? The book Graham, M., Zook, M., and Boulton, A. “Augmented reality in urban places: contested content and the duplicity of code” gives us a definition of augmented reality as “a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data”. In other words, a view of reality is modified by a software to make a part of it.
Augmented Reality now has its own logo. Once you see this picture you will know that you could start using AR on your device: smartphone, tablet, etc.
Despite the fact that AR has been most talked about in the context of video games, it is also going to be one of the most powerful tools for business in the future. With AR you could imagine that some companies would rather develop AR than buying a physical place to sell their product or service.
If I were a entrepreneur, I would develop AR in Tourism.
Imagine. You are a tourist visiting Paris. An AR app is developed on your smartphone enabling you to have instant information about buildings: size, history, pictures, etc. Moreover, I would implement a « Historic » mode which allow you to see Paris in the old days. In this case AR is a mean of transferring qualitative information on time using localisation.
Ikea App, the good bet on AR
I discovered AR when I downloaded the app of Ikea for smartphones and tablets (released in August 2013). The Swedish furniture and decoration seller took the decision to innovate and improve customer experience. The app uses the camera of a device and allows selecting items such as sofas, shelves to see them at home.
I think that Ikea’s idea is pretty good as their customers need to see, measure, get in touch with the products before buying. The app intervenes at a point where the customer is hesitating in buying a product. The app allows a perfect conversion funnel for online and off line purchasing at Ikea. The app user has better information on the product and all the hesitations about the size, the colors of a product are removed.
But, in my opinion, even if the app is a good idea, the result remains disappointing. Proportions are not really realistic and the choice of products is very limited. The app looks more like a gadget to generate noise around Ikea than a real tool to help them with their choices of furniture.
AR makes it possible for companies to share a unique shopping experience with their customers and to differentiate from competitors.
Time will tell what AR can bring in the next few years …
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