Last week’s iPhone X announcement sent the marketing and tech world into a tailspin, and not just because of its £1k price tag. With its faster processing speed and dot projecting camera, the phone’s iOS11 system will also be compatible with Apple’s new Augmented Reality (AR) framework, ARKit. Not one to be upstaged, Google had announced the launch of their Android-compatible equivalent, ARCore a few weeks prior. 

AR technology has massively changed; its updates are giving developers new opportunities to create digital experiences in the physical environment which aren’t locked to specific locations. This means their creations can be served up to a broad market of people around the world, projecting AR into the users’ surroundings. 

Together, Apple and Google’s platforms are paving the way for a whole new host of AR apps and ventures to hit the mainstream, which means marketing is about to get a makeover.

 

Whitespace Alternative Reality demo app

Whitespacer/resident genius Chris Ward combines physics with real-time lighting and shadows in this fun AR demo, created in just one day.

 

Exciting, but not totally new

In the app world, Pokémon Go (location-based) and Snapchat (face-mapping) have already successfully phased AR into our everyday lives. From pounding the pavements with phone in hand, searching for Pokémon, to adding an extra dimension to our selfies with dog ear overlays and virtual flower crowns, we’ve been benefiting from it without even realising. 

Successful trailblazers of AR in the B2C market include IKEA and CoverGirl cosmetics. By giving consumers the chance to virtually project a VIMLE sofa into their home, or see whether that siren-red lipstick suits them without any messy hassle, brands are already using AR to revolutionise the concept of ‘try before you buy’, in both app and installation form.

 

It’s all about the consumer

From lamps to lip-gloss, consumers are infinitely more likely to buy something that has already been projected onto their lips or living room. Marching round IKEA with a measuring tape in hand or dabbing in vain at that lipstick stain with a make-up counter tissue may fast become nothing more than an inconvenient memory.

Using AR to sell your products sounds like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? While it is tempting to jump onto this exciting trend, if content is easier to view as an interactive webpage, or needs to reach a wide audience, AR might not be the best platform for your brand at the moment.

 

Get some sticking power

The gimmick of anchoring objects into our surroundings will quickly wear off. Remember how much hype surrounded those cute dog ears at the beginning? Marketers should forget about fun yet useless features – they’ll be short-lived favourites. Instead, use AR instead to tell stories, or to add real value to peoples’ lives. That will be the real trick to longevity. 

In-store installations such as CoverGirl’s are a perfect example of this. Guaranteed sticking-power is achieved by offering time-pressed shoppers a way to streamline their experience and experiment without risk. If your brand doesn’t offer this and a direct competitor does, it goes without saying that yours will likely to fall by the wayside in attracting new customers. 

 

Whitespace Alternative Reality demo app

Chris’s AR demo showcases his cutting-edge use of the technology which is currently available to developers.

 

Become a staple

Back to apps. As more and more devices will inevitably come out that support AR features, more apps will be developed, and more innovative uses of AR will be invented. AR technology is constantly improving with software and hardware advancements, so developing apps early will help brands to keep up with the competition when the market widens. 

People only have so much space on their iPhones, and something fun but not useful will soon get sent to the trash bin. Your goal should be to create a multi-faceted and versatile app or feature, that becomes a staple of users’ lives, and which improves their everyday experiences. The ultimate goal of integrating AR into your offerings is to leave the user questioning how they ever managed without it. 

How could AR aid your consumers to do something more quickly or more conveniently? Do you think AR is right for your business or sector? What benefits would you like to see returned by your investment?

 

View Chris’s full demo clip below: