Most people started talking about Augmented Reality (AR) with the success of Pokémon Go back in 2016 – and the mobile game certainly highlighted the significance and potential of AR to capture the public's imagination. Since then we've seen its adoption in the world of ecommerce from a variety of different brands and industries.
What Is Augmented Reality?
AR involves virtual objects being superimposed on to a user's real, physical view of the world to create the illusion that they’re in the same space. AR devices have a display, input device, sensor, and processor; smartphones, tablets, monitors, head-mounted displays and gaming consoles will all suffice. AR can be seen then as a mix of both Virtual Reality (VR - where the entire environment is simulated) and, well...reality.
Use in Ecommerce
Do we really need all these alternatives to 'actual' reality? AR has been applied very practically to the world of ecommerce. Below you'll find some key examples.
In 2014 IKEA made an augmented reality version of their catalogue. The 3D function in its catalogue app did though require a physical copy of the paper catalogue to work. Since then the company have launched IKEA Place, which allows users to place virtual IKEA furniture into their own home to see how everything looks before purchasing. The new app is said to be 98% accurate in scale, rendering 3D images to react to light and shade, to give a fair reflection of how IKEA products will look in after purchase.
Dulux launched Dulux Visualiser to help customers visulaise what their house will look like painted in their selected colour. Smartphone based, you simply point your camera at the wall(s) in question and the app will detect what it determines as being wall (rather than a mirror, for example) and fill-in the colour of your choosing. Tap on the paint colour you like, and then the wall you want to paint. Visulisations can be saved and retrieved at a later date if you're not ready to make a decision. You can also pick a colour from an item in the room (say the couch) and the app will pick colours for you that best match. Users can then share their proposed colour schemes with friends on social media directly via the app to get a second (or several!) opinion.
L’Oreal formed a partnership with the world’s most popular mobile makeup AR app YouCam, which surpassed 100 million downloads in 2016. Launched in August 2014 by makers Perfect Corp, YouCam uses augmented reality to allow people to try on lipsticks, eye makeup, faux lashes, contacts, and more, as well as save and share the looks they create. YouCam has gone from strength to strength. Rather than license its software to other companies, Perfect Corp. partners with existing cosmetic lines, including L’Oreal. The app then allows users to try on L’Oreal ranges and then purchase via links off-app directly from the brand.
Specsavers has recently launched virtual try on technology that uses facial analysis to scan face shape and features. The Frame Styler technology available in optician stores takes a 3D scan of a customer's face on a tablet, imaging software then produces a high-resolution 3D model of the customer’s face. The idea is to take the guess work out of buying glasses by automatically pulling in a selection of glasses that suit an individual's face in under a second. Specsavers also has a Virtual try on feature on its mobile site. Customers simply use their smartphone or tablet to take a picture of their face, navigate to a product page that features the virtual try on button, and when pushed will make the glasses appear on their face.