According to Wikipedia, Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information. This information spans across multiple sensory modalities such as sight, sound, touch, nervous system, and smell. AR fulfills three basic features: a combination of real and virtual worlds, real-time interactions, and convincing three-dimensional chronicling of virtual and real objects.
Augmented reality (AR) allows people to transform their surroundings into learning, work, and entertainment spaces. Visualization, annotation, and storytelling are three things that AR does successfully. Using AR, people can immerse themselves in the outside world without leaving their seats. Using Google’s AR search on their smartphone, they can visit a virtual safari with 3D animals from their living room. Per Google, “Augmented reality overlays digital content and information onto the physical world.” AR immerses you in a different environment within your environment. It creates new ways for smartphones to be helpful every day and experience digital reality in the same manner you experience the world. Virtually reality opens up the opportunity for visual search and answers questions by overlaying visual, immersive content on top of a person’s real world.
Does that sound like science fiction has come to fruition? Sixty-nine years ago, in 1951, Ray Bradbury wrote The Illustrated Man, a compilation of 18 science fiction short stories. In the story, The Veldt, the Hadley’s live a life of leisure in a fully automated house called “The Happylife Home,” where augmented reality helps the home run smoother and childhood imaginations run wild! “George Hadley was filled with admiration for the mechanical genius who had conceived this room. A miracle of efficiency selling for an absurdly low price. Every home should have one. Oh, occasionally they frightened you with their clinical accuracy, they startled you, gave you a twinge, but most of the time what fun for everyone, not only your own son and daughter but for yourself when you felt like a quick jaunt to a foreign land, a quick change of scenery.”
In the story, if you were to read today, you might believe George Hadley’s homebuilder used Google’s AR Search developers and AR product designers. George was able to experience a virtual safari in his children’s room – to the concern of his wife, Lydia. “Walls, Lydia, remember; crystal walls, that’s all they are. Oh, they look real, I must admit—Africa in your parlor—but it’s all dimensional, super reactionary, supersensitive color film and mental tape film behind glass screens. It’s all odorophonics and sonics, Lydia. Here’s my handkerchief.”
The Illustrated Man provided some dark ideas around the use of sensory-marketing and AR of today. AR can provide many benefits and bridge the space between consumer wants and marketers providing content personalized to their individual needs. AR is great for storytelling presenting products and important information. From a marketing perspective, it’s easy to see the benefits of content creation, advertising, and PSAs. From product placement like IKEA’s furniture placement and visual search to public service announcements for air quality, Augmented Reality creates a new way to connect with people’s emotions and helps marketers to understand what motivates and joins people as humans.
A marketer’s quest to keep up with changing technologies and rapidly changing consumer behavior is ongoing. Consumer segments are growing and each generation has different experiences and emotions with regards to technology. An interesting fact about The Veldt, it was originally titled, The World The Children Made. Millennials and Generation Z are very comfortable with technology. Generation Z being digital natives, their entire life has been chronicled online. This same generation is in the midst of transitioning rapidly online amidst COVID19. The “old school” way of online learning is being propelled into the new millennium and AR opens the doors to design experiences that are meaningful.
Demand for AR apps in education, healthcare, retail, automotive, military, entertainment, and manufacturing is expected to increase in the coming years. As more industries are changing to incorporate AR and VR into their products and services, marketing is no exception. There are a lot of predictions on how AR and VR can be utilized by marketers to attract, engage, and convert customers, improve customer experiences, and build more immersive experiences with new products.
The COVID-19 curve may be flattening, however, when the next pandemic emerges, post quarantine, we may just join the Hadley’s and say, “Why don’t we shut the whole house off for a few days and take a vacation?”