The Rise of Augmented Reality Technology In a Virtual Reality World

Business.com / Technology / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

The technological and marketing significance of AR Technology and its wider applicability than VR.

Whether you find your future-self living in a world where Tom Cruise's smash hit film "Minority Report" engulfs the daily dynamics of your life or a more current scenario of hunting for a rare Pokemon GO species the world of augmented reality is as real as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And, it's here to stay.

Wouldn't it be cool to live in an age where people no longer have to look for maps, follow monotoned museum guides at The Louvre, or literally touch, observe and "feel" a retail item out of the box to get an idea of what you're buying, before actually purchasing it?

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Enter: Augmented Reality

AR makes all of these wondrous things possible beyond imagination in more ways than one! However, here's the kicker: mainstream entry of AR is still a pending milestone of the future. The core functional premise and working psychology behind AR are: augmenting our reality by placing digital objects or information into the physical realm around us, and people can see these digital elements by gazing through AR lenses or even via their smartphone cameras.

In hindsight, various AR technologies are still currently in development or have been released as mere prototypes, but early studies show great promise for viable user engagement.

From a print and digital media viewpoint, VR has garnered quite a bit of attention in recent years. However, unbeknownst to many of us, it is AR technology in fact which is deriving substantial financial support from investors and corporations alike. Consequentially, AR is growing faster with a more stimulated approach towards tangible development.

Industry experts, such as those at Digi-Capital foresee the collective VR/AR market segment will steadily grow to a whopping $150 billion in the next four years. However, here's the kicker : the breakdown of 150 billion breaks down heavily in AR’s favor.

According to Digi-Capital, AR is set to account for $120 billion of that hunky piece of pie. This is because as a technology, AR possesses a wider array of multiple implementations than VR. Consequentially, VR is an industry that has the functional substance to mainly operate in the entertainment sphere. AR, on the other hand, will redefine many industries, including healthcare, tourism, and, of course, marketing.

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A plethora of marketing applications for VR is already being explored. Comparatively, in many ways, the applications for AR marketing appear far more practical since AR does not isolate the user in an entirely virtual world detached from 'immediate reality', and can integrate with existing marketing campaigns better.

Consequentially, AR seems to have increasingly infiltrated several global retail marketing campaign initiatives, from virtual technology that allows consumers to try on clothes to IKEA's "AR Catalogue" which enables potential buyers to see how furniture visually looks like inside their very homes. While these technologies exist currently in their prototype stages, these marketing applications are profoundly impressive early phase testaments tp AR's true potential.

User Distraction Soon Forgotten

Interestingly enough, early research in the Harvard Business Review post that AR marketing is a rare novelty for consumers, and thus users experience distraction by the technology initially. However, the novelty wears off with repeated exposure as time goes on and AR marketing becomes less about the AR technology itself and more about the actual product being marketed, particularly in situations where AR is infused into an environment. In the research study, an example of a makeup store was used that allowed consumers to try on makeup employing an AR-integrated mirror without having to actually put on or take off the makeup.

Growing evidence suggests that AR marketing increases:

  1. User engagement
  2. Brand exposure
  3. Overall market awareness

Thus, the money-shot for AR marketers is to devise ways where that increased awareness is effectively transformed into pure revenue. Ana Javornik, while writing for the Harvard Business Review states: “the real mission for commercial AR is integrating the technology so that it enhances the customer experience makes it easier, more fun, and more convenient. We don’t want to live in a world where tangible, physical elements are replaced with digital replicas.”

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The Future is Now

While the full realization of that aspiration is still decades away, yet proactive and conducive efforts are currently being made to galvanize the hope and point the wheels in the right direction. A fascinating example is that of Microsoft's HoloLens which combines AR and VR technologies through a VR-style headset along with AR’s decreased processing ability. As of June 1, 2016, Microsoft has made the Windows Holographic platform public, enabling partners to begin creating relevant applications for the Hololens technology.

Moreover, Lenovo recently revealed its latest smartphone due for release this fall. The smartphone particularly aims to bring AR technology to the general populace, incorporating the first ever AR-integrated hardware on the market.

With all of this and more, the real question remains: Is the global mainstream use of AR marketing a thing of the future or a mere figment of our imagination today? The answer is neither. AR technology and marketing has found its genesis in our day and age, while newer technology and third party integrations being created as we speak. The kettle is brewing and the steam is real. It's time you grabbed a cup.

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