Augmented reality is one of the hottest topics at the moment, one that is at the forefront of public consciousness. It is a form of technology that superimposes objects onto the real world, which people can see by looking through the lens of their smartphone camera or AR lens. It’s also the very thing that made Pokemon Go possible.

The upcoming release of the newest iPhone, whose defining feature is arguably its augmented reality capabilities, will introduce a device that will make games a lot more immersive — a device poised to make augmented reality ubiquitous.

Augmented reality is set to alter many different industries. Not only will it tap into gaming and entertainment, but health care, education and, of course, retail could utilize the technology as well. 

A lot of our very own customers are in the healthcare industry, so we’ve seen how AR has helped them firsthand. AccuVein, for example, allows nurses to accurately see where veins are located within a patient, and AED4EU is an app that can help someone immediately locate a defibrillator in an emergency.

From a business perspective, augmented reality offers a great opportunity for businesses to improve upon their relationships with customers. In fact, as you will see below, many businesses are already taking note.

Buzz And Advertising Potential

Augmented reality is still in its early stages. A lot of the talk around AR is based on prototypes and the potential of augmented reality, but that is changing quickly. By 2021, the VR/AR market is expected to reach $108 billion, with AR accounting for $83 billion of that.

In its current form, AR offers a lot of advertising potential. A few years ago, Pepsi Max did its own ad campaign using augmented reality by projecting unexpected images (a tiger, a crashing meteor and an alien tentacle pulling people into the street) on a bus shelter’s sign for people to view as they waited for their bus to arrive. 

This was part of Pepsi Max’s #LiveforNow campaign. The results? A lot of attention for Pepsi Max. The video has almost 8 million views on YouTube.

The technology may still be a novelty at this point, but if businesses can help transition the novelty aspect of the technology into a better customer experience — like others are already doing, and as you will see about below — AR holds a lot of potential for businesses beyond just creating buzz and advertising potential. 

AR can offer a better customer experience and address pain points to become a highly valuable piece of technology for businesses.

A Better Customer Experience

A new report found that eight in 10 customers are willing to pay for a better customer experience, and AR is already helping businesses achieve this.

Using Apple’s new ARKit technology, IKEA recently released its free augmented reality app to allow customers to see how a piece of furniture will look in their home. The beauty of the app is that all of this can be done before a customer buys that new couch for their living room.

IKEA has made use of AR in a very smart way. It has addressed its customers’ pain points (Will this chair fit in my office? How will it look? Does it match everything else in my living room?), and in doing so, the company has provided its customers with the necessary confidence to purchase a particular product. 

Home furnishing companies aren’t the only ones hopping on the AR bandwagon. Makeup and beauty company Sephora is another example of a retail company using augmented reality to give customers confidence in their purchases. 

The Sephora Visual Artist update to its app will scan a user’s face and allow them to see what various makeup products or colors look like on them. If you like how the product looks, you can buy it straight from the app.

These two examples are evidence of how augmented reality can provide a better customer experience by alleviating concerns while simultaneously giving customers the confidence to immediately purchase products.

Addressing Pain Points

Footwear giant Nike found itself amid controversy when a young man was killed over a pair of Air Jordan sneakers in 2012.  

In response, Nike began experimenting with different alternatives, including a Twitter lottery system and its SNKRS app. The problem is that while the app addressed one problem (safety), it created another: Resellers used bots to purchase the shoes faster than a human could and then marked up the price to sell on eBay.

That is until Nike introduced AR into its app earlier this year. To unlock the sneakers, shoppers had to physically point their camera at a particular image in a specific location as suggested by Nike, treating it almost as a game. In doing so, the company was able to eliminate nearly all bots due to the required physical interaction.

The Bottom Line

Now that the iPhone is poised to make augmented reality much more ubiquitous, businesses should start paying attention. While AR offers new advertising potential, it also has the potential to provide better customer experiences and address pain points.

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