In HBO’s “Succession”, there’s a scene where Roman and Kendall Roy, the 2 hapless heirs to a fictional media empire modeled after News Corp, suggest innovations to a room full of nonplussed executives and stakeholders. Roman suggests that the future of media is VR, Kendall quickly dismisses the idea: “VR is a bubble”.
AR and VR are often grouped together and are similarly often dismissed together, too. The assertion that VR is a bubble may well be correct – hundreds of millions of investment dollars have flowed into a technology that requires the users to put on a goofy headset and look, well, goofy. Don’t get me wrong, VR can be tremendously useful in the right scenarios, it’s just that those scenarios tend to be highly specific edge cases in things like medicine, defense and training. Very few mainstream consumer applications outside of gaming seem to have gained traction.
Augmented reality, on the other hand, is different: Instead of isolating the user from the real world via a headset, AR adds a layer of data that a user can interact with, creating a tremendously powerful visualization medium. We are just scratching the surface of what that will do, but here are a few reasons why we believe in its future:
- For users that engage with AR, Epigraph sees a 49% lift in add-to-cart rate, which is an incredible shift in an important KPI. See our case study here for more information.
- In a recent survey of shoppers, 78% of users said they’d rather interact with AR than watch a 30 second video, with 57% stating that their ideal AR experience allows interaction with items they’re considering purchasing in their own environment.
- Only 1 in 5 users have experienced retail-based AR. Whereas many sites have “View In Your Space” as an option, it hasn’t been adopted by any of the major platforms yet – Facebook, Alphabet and Snap have done small tests, mostly with the front facing camera – there’s a lot of engagement to be earned when in-ad AR goes mainstream.
- There is tremendous earned media potential with AR: 2/3 of users shared their experience and more than half of users took photos. 90% of users reported that AR is fun to use.
- This technology is very young: WebAR has barely existed for a year! Currently, the technology is constrained on several fronts, with connection speed, camera hardware inconsistencies and USDZ glitches all contributing to poor AR performance.
- G: 5G will theoretically be 100 times faster than 4G/LTE, erasing any lag time associated with current WebAR implementations and allowing for massive improvements in visual fidelity and interactivity.
- Smart Glasses: The real game changer here is hardware. Let’s face it, a small 2 dimensional screen is not an ideal way to interact with information, no matter how much my kid yells at me when I take it away. Someday soon, our interactions with connected technology will be far closer to how we engage with the natural world: Our voice will control the input, rather than an awkward keyboard, intuitive, relevant information like directions will display intuitively, rather than requiring us to stop and search, and most of all: We’ll surf the web in 3 dimensions instead of 2, as is our naturally preferred method of experiencing the world.
The more we scratch the surface of AR, the more insight we have into this new paradigm of interactive creativity - let's build beautiful things in it!