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Augmented Reality is the New Reality: How AR is Changing the User Experience

The emotional connections we make with the brands we love are strong and undeniable. Why does the streetwear community impatiently await the next Supreme drop or the latest shoe collab? People are passionate about the brands that they choose to both support and sport. 

Mediums like digital video, streaming services, and social media have demonstrated that people can strengthen their relationships with brands through motion, sight, and sound. 

This is where augmented reality comes into play. 

Augmented reality (AR) alters a user’s view of the real world through technology. AR can be enhanced with sound, touch, and in some cases smell, thus blurring the lines of reality for the user.

Have you ever wanted to be inside of your favorite video game? Pokémon Go made that possible for millions of players in a game-changing app. Pokémon Go leveraged AR in 2016 for its mobile app that layered elements of the game into the real-world surroundings of its players [Image A].  

The new world of AR offers us better ways to gather and connect virtually, particularly during a time when physical connections are limited. In other words, augmented reality isn’t just for fun and games anymore.

Evoking Empathy: How Non-Profits Are Leveraging AR to Prompt Social Change

Nonprofits are embracing this medium to spread their messages quickly and effectively. This can be seen in a recent partnership with the United Nations Foundation, World Health Organization (WHO), and Snap Inc. The organizations leveraged Snapchat AR lenses to create a unique AR experience and drive donations to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. Snapchat users can use these lenses to scan real-life objects and unlock a digital animation that illustrates how donations will support COVID emergency response efforts, like funding essential medical supplies. [Image B]  

An AR-enabled experience can help take supporters on a virtual journey and offer transparency into the communities that your foundation or nonprofit impacts. 

The United Kingdom National Health Service (NHS) used this technology to build awareness around the importance of blood donations. Their campaign included a virtual billboard depicting an individual in need of a blood transfusion. Volunteers then distributed stickers to in-person spectators and instructed them to place the stickers on their arm where the needle would go when donating blood. As volunteers scanned the sticker, the transfusion bag featured on the billboard would animate and ‘fill up,’  providing a visual representation of the impact blood donations would have on those in need.

Innovating the User Experience in Retail and Beyond

COVID-19 has also forced the closing of brick and mortar storefronts leaving many consumers without the ability to “try” before they buy. 

With no fitting rooms, car test drives, or home appliance showrooms, it has become increasingly important for brands to make online shopping easy and convenient. Brands who embrace technology solutions like AR were better equipped to pivot operations and maintain sales. 

For example, ASOS, a global fashion merchandiser, ‘digitally fit’ new items onto its models, allowing for promotions to proceed uninterrupted. They also implemented an AR tool that maps the clothing on the shopper to provide them with a more realistic, personalized view of the product.

According to Retail Customer Experience, retailers that encompassed AR like this into their online platforms saw an approximate 20% increase in conversion rates.  

Retail is not the only industry benefiting from advances in AR technology. 

Before COVID-19, digital media was seen as a supplement to experience-focused entities like museums, theaters, and performing arts centers. Now, these institutions are taking a more digital-first approach.

According to The Guardian, The Metropolitan Museum of Art experienced a 4,106% growth in online viewership with the inclusion of its award-winning video series, the Met 360 Project. This digital experience invites viewers to explore the Temple of Dendur, the Museum’s Great Hall, and other attractions using spherical 360° technology. 

By engaging audiences with online experiences, cultural institutions saw incredible increases in web traffic. Their audience expanded from their local jurisdiction to a global community. 

As technology advances, we will continue to see the adoption of augmented reality and other digital innovations. In the meantime, you can learn more about the budget-friendly digital marketing tools you can utilize during COVID-19 and why our work as marketers matters now more than ever on the Proof blog here.

Mark DePaul, Creative Producer

Mark DePaul, Creative Producer

Mark started his marketing and communications career when he began using social media to share his lifestyle and promote fashion. Through his passions, he quickly became a social media influencer, growing a following that ultimately reached tens of thousands. When not in the office, Mark can be found scouting photo locations, editing his next video production, keeping up to date with fashion trends and planning his next trip.

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