Making AR real for clients

28 May 2019 by Steven Giannoulis

Like many design agencies we’ve spent many years working across both print and digital mediums. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses and therefore often play different, but complementary, roles in any communication programme. Augmented reality (AR) provides a cool way to integrate the two together in a seamless way. We see AR as the future of effective communications and that’s exactly why we’re working hard to help our clients embrace its business potential.

Augmented reality uses every day technology - like your phone or iPad - to superimpose sounds, images and text to the reality you see. Whereas virtual reality (VR) is about a made-up-world, AR is about enhancing the real world.

And what that means for business is that we can take a real thing like a product, an image, a postcard, a document or a graphic on a wall, and make it into a trigger for a more immersive and engaging communication experience. A good example is our recent AR work with Mercury, taking a stylised map of the Waikato River as the kick-off point to tell a visually rich story about the area and the power stations they have there. Photos, video, real stories, sounds and a host of moving animations like water, steam, birds, clouds and cyclists bring a static display alive in a fun, informative, immersive and three-dimensional way.

Mercury Brand Experience Showcase Augmented Reality Wall

But it’s not all fun and cool gimmicks, the business opportunities are endless. Here’s just a few:

  • Sales – customers use AR to see themselves interacting with your product. For example, walking around the house you are trying to sell them, or wearing the dress or driving that car they are interested in. If they can see themselves in it, they are well on the way to buying it.
  • Design thinking – AR allows flat designs to be created in 3D spaces, providing a real sense of how things work together. Visualising the finished product allows greater opportunities for teams to work together to address potential issues before the costly process of manufacture begins.
  • Training – AR allows richer learning in environments that are just like the real thing. And that extends to customer training as well – imagine being able to add video or audio to your product manual and customers can access it on their phone.
  • Customer experience – AR has the potential to add rich information, games and other interactions that your customers can tailor to what they want. This makes their engagement with you richer, more personalised and a whole lot more fun – all the time adding to their perception of you.

Augmented Reality in commercial use

These example are already in play today, changing how companies are communicating with their customers to achieve better results. Despite this, we’re still finding that many clients see AR (and to a greater extent, VR) as an emerging future technology – the stuff of Blade Runner, not of the shop floor in 2019. And we’re keen to address this.

AR demo image

Last month we launched our own AR experience to help our clients understand, and visualise, the potential of AR. Nellie the astronaut is a great piece of wall art (and a printed document) that highlights a multitude of AR techniques from video, to games, to user interaction and response. Clients think it’s cool and enjoy playing with it, providing us with the perfect platform to discuss potential applications for them. Already this has seen us develop client specific ideas to demonstrate key issues to investors, improve property selling and to enhance the effectiveness of destination marketing activities.

Along with the medium being unfamiliar to most of our clients, cost remains the biggest barrier to client take up. And that’s the next big challenge for us – making AR cost accessible enough for clients to trial it. And we are not far off from making this a reality as well.

 

You can experience our AR demonstration for yourself right here, right now. Simply download the free ScopeX app from App Store or Google Play, open the app and hit the top square: 'Scan an AR image', point the phone at the above image of Nellie the Astronaut and wait a few seconds. Each of the spinning artefacts takes you down its own fun rabbit hole.
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