Augmented reality, also known as AR, is increasingly everywhere. Businesses across industries are turning to augmented reality app development to help them create new ways to engage their customers. Educators are using AR to develop new ways of teaching, and medical professionals are using it to transform the way they approach treatment. People of all ages and backgrounds are trying out the built-in AR functionalities of their smartphones.
The future of AR is blazingly bright. In today’s blog, we offer up eight awesome augmented reality solutions that help showcase the technology’s incredible potential.
What Exactly Is AR? And How Does It Compare to VR?
Augmented reality is an interactive technology that combines computer-generated and real-world elements — including audio, video, and text — to create an enhanced version of reality. Though it’s not a new technology, it has improved significantly in the past few years. It has also gained a lot more traction as smartphones and other AR-capable devices become increasingly accessible around the world.
It’s not uncommon for augmented reality to be confused with virtual reality, or VR, but the technologies are fundamentally different. VR focuses on creating a fully virtual interactive environment devoid of real-world components. AR simply adds new layers to the existing world.
Why Is There so Much Buzz about AR and VR?
Despite their differences, both AR and VR’s immersive experiences have proven to be highly engaging for consumers. They’re also highly effective in attracting customers, solving existing problems, aiding education, and boosting entertainment, among other things.
In other words, the technology can be applied to a massive number of use cases, and there are still countless AR and VR opportunities to be explored and developed.
Augmented reality is already being used in some truly amazing ways. Read on to learn about some of the best augmented reality apps around.
7 Augmented Reality Solutions That Lead the Pack
1. IKEA Place
First released in 2013, IKEA’s approach to augmented reality stemmed from the need to solve an existing problem. IKEA’s solution is, in many ways, revolutionary. In particular, IKEA addresses the difficulties related to buying furniture by allowing customers to go through their furniture catalogue, select items of interest, and place computer-generated versions of their favorite pieces in their homes. The digital furniture is true-to-scale. This helps users make well-informed purchases, eliminating the risk of buying something that will be too big or that might not match the rest of their decor.
2. Sephora Virtual Artist
Sephora is another brand using AR technology to remove uncertainty from their customers’ shopping experience. Sephora’s Virtual Artist makes use of smartphones’ facial recognition capabilities to allow users to try on virtual makeup. Customers no longer have to wonder if a certain lipstick color will look good on them, or whether a specific eyeliner shade will be flattering. With Sephora’s Virtual Artist, buyers can try on makeup from the comfort of their homes.
3. Pepsi Max’s AR Entertainment Campaign
A few years ago, Pepsi used augmented reality to entertain UK commuters via a window-like screen connected to a camera in a bus stop in London. The screen displayed a live feed of the street they were on, but computer-generated graphics such as aliens, tigers, and giant robots were added to the scene to surprise and delight the audience. The campaign video went viral, contributing to a notable increase in sales.
4. Pokémon Go
It’s hard to talk about augmented reality without bringing up AR games and the groundbreaking success of Pokémon Go. This mobile phenomena combines location-based technology with AR, encouraging users to physically explore their surroundings while searching for Pokémon to capture. Pokémon Go was released in 2016. Since then, it has been downloaded more than 500M times and grossed over $2.01B worldwide.
5. Brain Power
Brain Power brings neuroscience, wearable technology, and augmented reality together to create meaningful, life-changing products intended to improve the lives of people on the autism spectrum. Through computerized glasses, users can receive coaching that helps them better understand the world that surrounds them. As a result, they learn to go through their daily routine in a more self-sufficient way.
HoloAnatomy is an award-winning application intended for use with Microsoft’s HoloLens. This technology drastically changes the way medical students learn by allowing them to view and analyze 3-dimensional holograms of the human body. Students can look at the human body as a whole, select and examine individual organs in great detail, and even see how certain physical processes happen. The tool has the power to fundamentally change the medical and educational industries by providing its users with never-seen-before assets.
7. GAP Virtual Dressing Room
GAP is another well-known brand looking to revolutionize the way customers shop. Through the power of augmented reality, this worldwide retailer allows users to select clothes from their catalogue, pick one of the five body types available in the application, and "try on" items they’re interested in purchasing. If consumers like what they see, they can complete purchases right from the application. They don’t even need to go to the store.
AR Supports Innovative Solutions Consumers Want
The more consumers experience awesome AR solutions like these, the more they see the potential for ways they can harness AR in their lives and businesses. That’s why it’s unsurprising that augmented reality software development is a fast-growing sector that shows no signs of slowing down.
As a designer focused on finding innovative ways to solve design problems, I’m excited to see what’s next for AR. In the meantime, you’ll find me trying out some new IKEA pieces in my living room and seeing whether that new GAP jeans style is worth bothering about.
Do you want to learn how to make an augmented reality app? Let us know!
As a Senior UI Designer at Distillery, Luciana Flora brings a balanced perspective to her work that’s based on equal parts artistry and practicality. Since she’s studied UX, UI, and programming, she has a strong understanding of what’s possible at the intersection of design and development. Luciana loves learning new languages, writing fiction, and going to karaoke.