Augmented reality has made some giant strides in recent years, and e-commerce functions seem poised to give it a disruptive role. For our deep dive into everything mobile, Adam Mingay, Head of Customer Partnerships at Unit9, chooses which technology to watch for in the near future.
The evolution of mobile AR over the past few years from a social gadget to the cornerstone of innovation has been fascinating to watch. With recent advancements and rumors in hardware and software, it really feels like we are now on the precipice of a new dawn of hard-hitting augmented reality. And the way it is used in commerce is at the forefront of this charge into the future. With cutting-edge tools at their fingertips, consumers discover a tailored yet accessible approach to online and in-person shopping that is meant to transform the way they browse, shop and interact with brands.
Mobile technological innovations announced last year, such as the integration of the lidar sensor, are now increasingly adopted, and we are seeing real use cases emerging from brands like Ikea. Built into the iPhone 12 Pro, Lidar technology elevated home shopping into something that does what the in-store experience can’t – allowing consumers to try on AR items in their own space before shopping. ‘commit to buy, while moving around the item to view it from all angles. Checking if this new super king will fit your room has never been easier. The sensor itself will continue to be improved on Android and iOS to increase accuracy in the near future. Soon it will be able to scan greater distances and recognize smaller objects, allowing buyers to have a fully tailored navigation experience tailored to their own homes.
More recent Apple updates also improve the mobile AR experience. The WWDC conference in June announced the release of Object Capture: a tool that will allow brands to create photo-realistic 3D models of products in minutes by taking photos taken on iPhone, iPad or DSLR and optimizing them for the augmented reality. This will be huge for retailers, allowing them to create really high quality assets that look as good as the real thing. And for buyers, that will mean an even wider array of options available to them, all at their fingertips.
With Wayfair and Etsy already on board, mobile e-commerce is about to undergo a serious upgrade. Enhanced actives like these will give AR fittings for clothing, accessories and beauty products a technological makeover. And with users now twice as likely to buy when using these experiences, brands stand to benefit tremendously. Snapchat recently announced a plethora of innovative new updates to make the home shopping experience more intuitive and realistic than ever. Shoppers can now not only try on branded items from the comfort of their own homes, but can also use voice control and hand gestures to instantly change outfits and try out new styles. Improved body tracking technology allows multiple users to try on digital garments for the same purpose, while the augmented fabric can now realistically drape and respond to movement as if affected by gravity.
Mobile trial experiences not only become more realistic and intuitive, but the path to purchase is now more convenient than ever. With purchasable augmented reality features built into a number of key social platforms, as well as retailer websites, we now have the best thing next to an in-store fitting room. Users can try out new styles based on their unique body shape to make decision-making easier, with the ability to complete the purchase in one place with a simple tap or swipe.
As AR becomes a more important part of everyday home life, users will start to expect it wherever they go, including Main Street. Mobile AR activations are designed to liven up today’s retail setup for an interactive browsing experience. We are approaching an era where shoppers will be drawn to stores with gamified AR storefronts, able to instantly test new virtual shades at the makeup counter, and even guided around the store by their phones, visualizing augmented product overlays. and orientation on demand – all without downloading an app thanks to ultra-accessible WebAR technology. Burberry’s social retail store in Shenzhen is a prime example of how smartphones can be used as in-store shopping companions to create a more personalized retail experience, with users able to unlock content. exclusive while they shop. With consumer demand for these types of interactive, shareable experiences showing no signs of slowing down, we’ll see many more additions to physical stores.
So what’s the next step? If there are any rumors, Apple’s highly anticipated mixed reality headset and glasses are set to be a game-changer and will perfectly complement advancements in mobile technology. They aren’t the only ones in the great portable gun race: Facebook and more recently Snapchat have also made clear their intention to make AR glasses a reality, and they’re getting there at a faster pace. Combine this new frontier of wearable devices with the rapid improvements happening on mobile, and consumers will soon be presented with a complete AR shopping ecosystem that will forever change the face of retail. The future of personalized shopping experiences is here for the everyday consumer, and it’s in the palm of their hands.