It looks like our sci-fi inspired visions of the future are finally becoming a reality with the help of the latest digital technology. AR and VR are emerging concepts being frequently explored in gaming, entertainment, events and more. There is a huge potential for brands to adopt this technology and incorporate it into their services. In this blog, we look at different possibilities for AR and how they could be realised. Let’s begin with the most disruptive.
Pokémon GO – online gaming in real life
Where do we even start with Pokémon Go?! A few weeks ago, Nintendo rolled out this game after a very quiet period and it broke the internet (and its own servers). Pokémon Go has become one of the most downloaded apps globally and has more than doubled Nintendo’s shares in the first two weeks.
Pokémon Go is far from the most technically advanced game out there. In fact, it’s very simple. But, this app has transformed the way we play online games – it takes users out into the real world! It works by using GPS to track location and display PokeStops or gyms, as well as guiding players to catch Pokémon in a real life environment. It’s fun and engaging, adding a competitive element and encouraging users to catch ‘em all. The AR (augmented reality) element is only linked to your phone’s camera when you need to catch a Pokémon and can be switched off. But its use of both geo-location and displaying Pokémon in actual surroundings brings the game to life.
Of course, it’s vital to bear in mind when using AR powered games and apps outside in the real world, that you’re still faced with real world obstacles and dangers like traffic, people, cliff edges and even thieves.
AR – blurring the lines with the real life
AR’s adoption has been moderate so far but apps like Pokémon Go have shown that it can be used effectively. The fact that everyone is currently obsessed with the game proves that AR doesn’t always need to be complex to engage users but it has to be fun and immersive. Typically, AR is fairly “gimmicky,” as you don’t always need that functionality. However, it can make experiences more enjoyable. Even Snapchat’s filters could be called AR and they’re one of the most popular features of the app.
Integrating the AR functionality into an app could work for businesses very well. For example, if Pokémon Go later permits real world bricks and mortar businesses to advertise, companies could pay to become a so-called PokéStop (or anything else that would encourage people to go there) to increase footfall. A similar idea has already been working for Snapchat filters where companies sponsor them with their own artwork to raise brand awareness.
It could be an innovative way for retailers to market their products too. IKEA created an app as part of its 2014 catalogue launch, allowing users to place 3D furniture models around their own living spaces. AR can also be used to notify customers about loyalty points or any promotions whenever the customer is in the store or uses the app. This could significantly boost their customer engagement and conversion. As apps like that also have a gamification element, it encourages people to collect points/items and participate even more to get to the next level or get a certain reward.
Microsoft has taken AR further and combined it with VR as well. The HoloLens is a headset that displays the real world with added virtual graphics. It can be used for entertainment, but there’s also a great practical and educational function to it. It can be used for engineering, science, architecture or design to scale up models and bring them outside of the standard computer. It could change the way we develop real technology and explore new concepts. If it takes off and becomes easily accessible, it could be a real game changer for many of us.
AR has proven that it can be effective in games, as well as very useful for businesses when done right. Companies should learn from Pokémon Go and put their own lures up to attract customers. It may not always need to be the main feature but devices like HoloLens could really transform certain aspects of 3D modelling for building and engineering. We just need to wait and see how they develop. And who knows, maybe we’ll be one step closer to having that holographic chess!