Removing the Barriers to Enhanced Reality Content

Removing the Barriers to Enhanced Reality Content

Removing the Barriers to Enhanced Reality Content Removing the Barriers to Enhanced Reality Content
Enhanced Reality Lead
Valtech Montréal
Paul Varlet

October 20, 2020

What do you think of when you think of Enhanced Reality? For most, something to do with big bulky headsets and flailing around in a crowded space comes to mind. But the future of enhanced reality needn’t be so daunting. In fact, as the technology continues to advance, the truth is that everyone has access to all they need to have a great Enhanced Reality experience.

The most common barrier to adoption of ER has long been the software and hardware requirements needed to create a strong experience. Likewise, the belief that ER wasn’t the best vehicle for connecting with consumers made brands less interested in pursuing it as a viable option. However, both of those barriers are falling quickly, and we’re heading into a world in which the use and need for brands to adopt Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality offerings is ubiquitous.

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Connecting Emotionally With Augmented Reality

If we go back only five years, no one was talking about enhanced reality outside of the tech industry. Internally, we were all excited by the possibilities, but in the real world, it seemed like no one was interested in pushing forward. And then Pokémon Go launched in 2016 and the perspective changed dramatically.

Any reservations about whether or not AR could be effective for consumers was blown out of the water by the 500 million users who downloaded the Pokémon Go app within the first year. But more than that, the popularity of the mobile game proved something else: the technology needed to create a strong AR experience was already in everyone’s pocket. All that was needed was for the end user to download an app, give that app access to the phone’s camera, and that was that.

However, even that need to install and give personal data over to yet another app is a barrier to entry for a number of users. Even in the wake of the success of Pokémon Go, the world might not have been as ready for mass Enhanced Reality adoption.

Web-Based AR Experiences

With modern smartphones, it is now possible to deliver high-performing AR experiences from the browser using web technologies. One thing all brands can adopt to make use of this technology is QR codes, for example. These barcode upgrades fell out of favour in many Western nations due to poor use and weird cases where URLs weren’t maintained. But with the popularity of apps like Snapchat and Venmo, the userbase is getting new exposure to the power of these simple creations.

Because of this, Apple and other phone makers have quickly adapted, building QR code readers into all phones’ base operating system and bypassing the need to download and install an app to function. The simple meaning behind this is that every person with a smartphone (that’s 96% of American adults alone, according to Pew Research) has access to a functioning QR code reader and has the ability to experience AR right in their hands. In Asia, for example, QR codes are so common their use is ubiquitous in many different countries for many different reasons.

Try Our AR POC For Yourself

This is the foundation of the next movement in connected experiences because it has uses that apply to just about every industry imaginable. Museums have the ability to pair a QR code with a piece of art or natural science in an exhibit and deliver more interactive and detailed information through a web AR environment directly on customers’ phones. Theme parks can create AR games and low-touch interactions among guests with QR codes placed throughout the park. Retail brands can easily offer more information on products and give shoppers access to more options.

It was with this last need in mind that we created our own web AR POC. Through scanning a unique QR code, the user’s phone delivers an AR experience that allows them to see the different options for a stock item as well as the ability to interact with that item, in this case a jacket, in realistic lighting and manipulate the item in a safe, digital space. All without needing to download a special app or give permission to share data.

Imagine a world in which you can go to your favourite clothing store, scan a QR code on a jacket you’re interested in and see it in all of its different colour options. Now imagine that right from your phone, you can see what that jacket would look like in different lighting, being worn in different elements, and learn about each of its features that benefit your particular lifestyle. And then, after selecting the colour you want, you can see that the store doesn’t have that colour in stock, but you can place an order and have it ready in however long it takes to get the stock item transferred from another store location or from the local warehouse, all from the comfort and safety of your own phone without needing to download a new app.

This is where the world is headed. Particularly in a post COVID-19 landscape, these types of experiences give consumers confidence to head back to stores knowing they won’t have to interact with high-touch contact points to get needed information, and it protects staff from needing to be called on and put in close contact with shoppers for simple product and stock information. In a real sense, the Enhanced Reality revolution is closer at hand than ever before.

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