With the rate of new innovation in tech ever-growing, it’s hard to know what will take off next. As a mobile first tech company, we have an insight into customer needs from speaking to our end users, and can see that there is a real buzz around the prospect of Augmented Reality.
Although augmented reality has been around for several years, it has yet to be embraced by consumers on a large scale. In fact, there have been many efforts from well known brands to make AR mainstream which haven’t taken off. For example, Google invested in Google Glass which augmented live information into our daily vision, but consumers rejected wearing unfashionable glasses that took photos of people without their knowledge or consent.
However, now with Apple investing large amounts in embedding AR within our phones, we believe this could be a turning point which is hugely beneficial to business. The recent release of iOS 12’s ARKit 2 means that suddenly, overnight, AR has become attainable to the average mobile phone owner. Not only can AR objects be sent within Messages and Mail, then viewed in the real world, but there is even an app that allows you to measure real world objects just by pointing your camera at them.
Looking at the bigger picture, this is just a taster that Apple has shared with us of the potential of AR. Now that the technology is at hand, how could you utilise it to transform your business processes? According to the chart by Statistica below, AR will be a huge part of our lives in the upcoming years before we know it, so now is the best time to start innovating within the bounds of possibility.
The biggest commercial success that we have seen in AR thus far is Pokemon Go. According to the SensorTower mobile app ecosystem data and insights company:
“Pokémon GO has generated $258 million in total. This profit was gained mostly from several different in-app purchases the game has for users to collect PokéCoins. And doesn’t include a profit generated from the deal with McDonald’s that was leaked on July 20th.”
This is significant because it changed customers perspective on new technology. Pokemon Go gave many adults a new and engaging way of experiencing and reliving a TV phenomenon familiar from childhood, without feeling awkward about holding up their device. Everywhere you turned, you would see users searching for Pokemon and even better, having engaged conversations.
What we can learn from this is that in order to create a successful augmented reality app, we need to follow three key principles; ensure you give users a compelling reason to use AI; include great content and realistic imagery to ensure the app is easy to use; and provide a new and engaging experience to your customers. All of these elements coupled together generate excitement an conversation.
Firstly, users must have a compelling reason to use and keep returning to your app. Pokemon Go motivated people to leave their homes and collect pokemon, simply for fun, or for competitive reasoning, or even out of curiosity. This is the power of augmented reality - it alters the physical world by adding virtual components, making the experience much more intriguing and real for users. Maybe your app would encourage users to keep using it because it offers competitive discount codes for your store whilst they’re out and about. Or maybe users would want to use your app because it means they can learn about the world around them - for example an art tour in London. There are so many opportunities where AR can take off in your industry with reason to keep users coming back.
Secondly, all augmented reality apps must have great content and realistic imagery so they are easy to use. Pokemon Go has fantastic nostalgic imagery and is easy to use because it has one simple objective: to collect pokemon and battle to become a pokemon master. This was important to its immediate success as the game is self explanatory, saving user valuable time from having to figure out how the app works. And it helps that the app is attractive to the eye. If you have an augmented reality app idea of your own, the imagery needs to work seamlessly with the real world. If this is lacking, your app will not succeed. Customers today are used to smooth user experiences and pleasing interfaces. They will not want to use an app with poorly executed technology that looks disagreeable.
Thirdly, your app must provide a new and engaging way of experiencing your existing product or service. Augmented reality should not only offer your customers a way to ease their experience, but to better it. This will help with marketing too. Pokemon Go users marketed the app themselves without even realising it by sharing their experiences and successes on online and with friends and family. Within the space of a few days, everyone had heard of the craze and wanted to get involved. As you know, we are a culture that loves to show others what we can do. For example taking pictures and sharing them on social media - look at the AR filters on Snapchat or Instagram. So if you can provide a new and exciting way of experiencing your product or service, users will share their positive experiences online and help promote your brand.
At this years March’s Game Developers Conference, it was announced that there have been 650 million Pokemon Go game downloads. This demonstrates that AR has huge potential, we just need to find the right way to utilise the technology. Think about it - Pokemon Go encouraged people to leave their homes and collect pokemon. What if your AR app motivated users to get involved with the community and help the environment by cleaning up rubbish? AR is slowly becoming part of our day to day lives.
The gaming industry is always at the forefront of technology. Same goes for non AR mobile apps. It is only now that businesses are starting to utilise app technology to improve their internal processes and customer relationships… two steps behind. AR is already being explored in many industries, from medicine and sport, to retail, food and more. Here are a few examples for inspiration:
- Educational AR allows training medics to look around a specific part of the body and tap to learn more. (This could work for all areas of education and training - not just medicine).
- Retail AR allows users to experience something before they buy it online. For example, imagine you wanted to try on a piece of jewellery from the comfort of your home to see how it fit before you bought it.
- Food and drink AR allows users to see how their meal/drink is made and how it looks before ordering it, helping to solidify their decision on what to order.
- Sports AR allows users in the crowd at a match (who have paid an extortionate amount for a ticket) to point their phone at the pitch to pull up detailed match statistics that would only usually be available on TV.
These are just a few exploratory ideas, but what would work in your industry for your business? Pin down what areas you can see AR being utilised, and follow the three key principles for success. If you have an idea, get ahead of the game and start developing. You never know, it could transform your business and create huge growth potential.