R has been significantly growing in popularity, ever since the summer of Pokémon Go, when experts predicted the widespread adoption of AR. Since then, the technology has been steadily growing as a force in media. AR technology has been moulded and adapted to fit the needs of different industries, and with the flexibility of this innovative technology and the endless use cases available the adoption of AR is set to be pushed forward in a major way.
According to a recent report by eMarketer, over 83 million Americans interacted with AR at least once a month over the past year, with the majority of these interactions driven by social media apps, like Snapchat and Instagram, which use AR to place face filters onto the user. The integration of AR into social media platforms gives AR a stronger foothold with both millennials and Gen Z. Now with the global pandemic Covid-19, everyday life has been affected significantly, and the demographic exposure to AR, is likely to widen.
The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed AR technology developers to think outside the box to meet the new needs of industries, business and consumers, all of which are driving AR adoption further into the mainstream.
New Brand Strategy
With businesses having to close their doors, and events being cancelled many brands have been cut off from interacting with their customers, the traditional marketing channels brands use to connect with their consumers just aren't effective anymore. In store shopping experiences have been significantly changed and as a result, brands are having to adopt and create new innovative strategies to reach and connect with their customers in a socially distanced world.
The retail industry has been severely affected by the pandemic, solutions such as AR virtual try ons and AR product packaging is an effective solution in avoiding the handling of products and so reducing the risk of spreading the virus. In other industries such as automotive or real estate, which weigh heavily on in person contact and on site experience, investing in an AR experience has proven to be effective. For example, an automotive company could create a full size 3D model of the vehicles they have on offer, the consumer could stand on their drive and place the full scale vehicle and walk around to view the features and even change the colour. In real estate, the consumer could do a virtual walk through of their dream home and learn all of the property’s background, all from the comfort of their own home.
Demand For New Content
Social media has opened the floodgates of content to consumers and with a rise of new audiences due to the global lockdown, now is the time for content creators to stand out from the crowd and offer a new type of experiential content with AR which is much more immersive and interactive than simply watching a video.
Need For Unique Experiences
With the Covid-19 lockdown and the population predominantly stuck at home, the use of streaming and social media has risen significantly over every demographic, with the highest use growth in the gaming and entertainment sectors. As time goes on, consumers will actively seek out new and enhanced experiences, leading many consumers to AR to add a new and novel way to see their surroundings.
The limitless bounds of AR potential has increased the investment in the technology, this is likely to accelerate the adoption of AR by a large number of media and content developers, bringing more AR directly into the hands of consumers.
As Covid-19 brings more interest to AR among marketers, businesses and consumers, meeting the expectations of these audiences will take a lot more than simple consumer interest, with the majority of AR milestones arising from technical advances. It’s clear that AR would not have grown to its popularity without the rise of smartphone and tablet devices, mobile GPS technology and high resolution digital photography. But as the technology developers consistently work on key new developments to fit the needs of its users, we can expect the needle of adoption to move and to topple any barriers to entry.
Visualisation And Plane Tracking
For AR to cleanly integrate with the real world, definitive plane detection is albeit an unglamorous, but a core necessity. To help create a seamless AR experience, Apple’s latest AR development kit, ARKit 3.5, and Google’s latest version of the ARCore, are two of the many companies making significant advances in plane detection and upgraded 3D sensing and depth perception which will enhance the quality of the AR experience.
Currently, the most known and used examples of AR are currently app based, with platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat popularising the AR experiences. However, the app based experience has limited many forms of AR to confined environments. Developers have created WebAR to overcome the limits of app based AR, hugely expanding the technology’s applications for content and e-commerce businesses as well as vastly expanding audiences to access an AR experience.
One of the key benefits to WebAR is that there is absolutely no app download required, saving time and quickly and efficiently engaging consumers while they are still interested. For example, Aircards, a north east based company pride themselves on their app-less WebAR experiences with their signature WebAR business cards, but they don’t limit themselves there, Aircards also create everything from postcards and product packaging to billboards for elite business clients who are savvy enough to utilise WebAR.
Wearable AR Devices
Releasing AR from an in app environment is likely to bring on adoption at a much faster rate, but freeing AR from a smartphone or tablet will be an even more significant move in the evolution of AR. Going beyond the realm of AR via smartphones and tablets will see hardware and wearable devices such as AR glasses come to the market, the opportunity to successfully integrate AR into our daily lives in a more efficient way will see the monumental expansion of AR technology and the utilisation in our everyday lives.
AR is a trending technology during the pandemic and is set to be a driving influence for brands to step out of their comfort zone and expand their technologies, however, for some brands it may be difficult if their company isn't completely 3D ready and the ability to create AR assets from scratch remains limited to a small pool of specialists. However, there is a growing number of third-party experts and AR tools to aid brands to get the skills and guidance to successfully scale AR without any constraints.
Many of these AR technology advances combined with the disruptive changes to daily life by Covid-19, has the ability to accelerate and enhance both the quality and the adoption of AR experiences for both brands and consumers. The Covid-19 pandemic will change the way we work and live, but with the change comes significant technological growth which will bring a new wave of media to help us to better communicate, stay safe and experience the world as it now exists.