With the advent of Ikea introducing an augmented reality (AR) app to enhance its 2014 catalogue, we are starting to see a gradual shift in how retailers can use the power of digital to improve the customer experience.
It seems as if augmented reality is no longer just for enhancing advertising campaigns, there are now many more practical applications of the technology.
Here we’ll look at the Ikea AR app, and then a general round-up of other companies making great strides in the realm of augmented reality.
Ikea’s AR app is available to download now from Apple’s app store and Google Play, and will work with any smartphone or tablet.
All the customer needs to do is place the 2014 catalogue in any space within their home, activate the app, and they can see exactly how a virtual Billy bookcase or Ektorp sofa fits into the real-time environment.
Here’s a video that explains the process in a way possibly clearer than I can, but with a slightly twee soundtrack…
Around 90 products from the catalogue will be available to view and arrange in your home via the app, with a further 50 pages that can be scanned for additional product information, videos and alternative product views.
Ikea has backed up this innovation with some sound reasoning. It suggests that…
Many of [Ikea’s] customers suffer from 'Square peg, round hole syndrome'. 14% of customers say they’ve bought the wrong-sized furniture for their rooms and over 70% say they don’t really know how big their own homes are.
This is of particular importance to the UK customer as our houses are the smallest in Western Europe. Data on the UK’s sense of spatial awareness is not quite so readily available.
Developed by the augmented reality software company Metaio, which also developed the immersive Ikea catalogue mentioned above, the Audi eKurzinfo app is an interactive owner’s manual, designed to replace the weighty paper tome taking up valuable space in your glove-box.
Supporting the Audi A3 and Audi S3, from 2012 onwards, the app allows the user to point their device at any feature of the car, that weird blinking light that you’ve never quite figured out, and the app gives quick assistance to your mechanical query.
Although the app won’t actually diagnose your problem for you, it will help you identify more than 300 elements and quickly pull up maintenance guides in a 3D overlay.
Metaio has also collaborated with VW on a similar app, called MARTA (Mobile Augmented Reality Technical Assistance), acting as a manual for VW’s 2014 XL1 hybrid model VW.
Audi has also enlisted Somo to develop an AR platform called Audi Vision which allows potential customers the ability to bring to life Audi’s spring 2013 brochure.
A previous app developed by Somo for the Audi A3 in April allowed the user a ‘paint the A3’ function, so you can 'spray paint' the car with your choice of colour.
An ‘on your drive’ section also let you resize and rotate the car so you can visualise exactly how it will look on your driveway.
Founded in 2009, Layar was the first company to develop an augmented reality app for mobile, and is currently helping publishers bridge the gap between print and ecommerce with AR functionality for magazines.
In September’s issue of Seventeen, it was possible to scan over 220 pages with you mobile device and add any item to a shopping basket.
It was also possible to create an in-app mood board to pin your favourite clothes or styles, unlock discounts when scanning certain adverts, and the ability to unlock bonus content such as videos and playlists.
dwell and AHAlife Magazine
Layar was also responsible for the first digitally shoppable magazine, published in November 2012.
A venture between the extremely tasteful dwell magazine and AHAlife.com, a luxury ecommerce site for ‘lifestyle products’, this had a similar functionality as the Seventeen app and was responsible for some fairly hefty sales. A $3,000 rug to be exact.
Somo and Mataio as well as Zappar, which recently teamed up with Pedigree to add augmented reality to children’s annuals, are making a compelling case for augmented reality’s effectiveness in engaging with the consumer and in helping traditional print media integrate itself into the digital market.