Today most people are aware of Virtual Reality (VR), it’s the technology used in video games and roller coaster simulators that try to emulate a digital world to encompass one’s field of vision completely. However, Augmented Reality (AR) takes a step away from the complete digital landscape in favor of overlaying virtual elements onto a user’s vision. The goal is to trick one into perceiving an object to truly be in the same field of view as the participant. While this is seemingly less ambitious than VR, it’s real-world applications are arguably greater than VR.

Types of Augmented Reality

There are two basic types of AR technology available to the public. On one side there are devices like Microsoft’s Hololens, what looks to be an oversized ski mask with a computer inside is just that. A glass screen works together with onboard cameras and processors to simulate a 3D image overlaid on top of the user’s field of view. The experience is complete with intuitive tricks that let the user reach out, spin, and reposition virtual objects as if they are touching physical objects. The Hololens completes the high-end of the AR market with a steep $3,000 price tag for a developer’s edition headset.

The other side of the AR market is substantially more obtainable and typically a simple process to utilize. Google and Apple both have developed ARCore and ARkit respectively as a platform to help developers create Apps for mobile platforms. Through these innovations, anybody with a smartphone can head to the Google Play Store or the App Store to jump into an augmented reality experience.

Apps like the IKEA Place app utilizes AR to bring their products to a consumer’s home as a virtual trial. Using touch controls consumers can choose, rotate, and place life-size IKEA furniture pieces to get an idea of what they will look like, all done on a smartphone. Other apps utilize AR for educational purposes, such as this Atom Visualizer. After opening the app eager academics choose from a list of various atoms to get a real-time representation of the various protons, neutrons, and moving electrons.

What Are The Possibilities With Digital Marketing?

IKEA Place App

As exampled by the IKEA app, AR marketing can be used to create a new experience for consumers by giving users the chance to interact with a virtual version of their product. Art pieces and picture frames can be placed on a wall to see if it will fit before a user adds it to their cart. Home decor can be placed next to a couch to color match. AR apps are even letting people try on makeup before they make the purchase. Brands implement their movie characters, tech products, and vehicles by placing AR elements inside of popular camera apps such as Snapchat and Instagram.

Brand marketing is storytelling that uses whatever mediums available to generate engagement, and AR is no exception. AR adds an element to videos and apps to reach users in non-traditional ways to create memorable reactions and brand recognition. AR elements can cater to various audiences through virtual tours. A virtual guide can be overlaid on the viewfinder of a phone leading people through museums, amusement parks, trade shows, and more.  These guides can easily be updated with languages and customs to market to a brand’s international audience as well as at home.

AR has been around for a few years now, however, thanks to efforts of companies like Apple, Google, & Facebook it is more readily available on millions of devices across the world. When technology starts to innovate media, marketing has an opportunity to use that medium to engage users. Branded content is one of the most influential mediums for conveying a message and AR elevates that ability even more; creating a story to capture new interests for consumers.