Our relationship with the digital world is changing. In recent years, our vocabulary has evolved to include a host of new phrases and acronyms: Web3, augmented reality (AR), NFTs, virtual influencers, and the metaverse will no doubt be familiar to many, but perhaps not entirely clear. This change is exciting. It feels like we are on the cusp of the next iteration of our digital lives, one where mixed reality (a blend of the physical and virtual/digital) is the norm.

Mixing realities

Mixed reality is not new. Smartwatches, QR codes and haptics all fall under its remit. It is largely synonymous with AR, widely known as the mechanism that brought Pokemon Go to life. AR uses the real world setting and enhances it through the use of digital effects and elements. AR as a medium enables us to create possibilities that are the very best of both the physical and digital world. Bridging these two worlds will undoubtedly allow us to solve problems in novel ways. We can expect to see continued AR implementation across healthcare, education, wayfinding, entertainment, retail and prototyping. We have already seen art become widely accessible through AR, and how mixed reality can make music festivals more accessible for deaf people. 

AR implementation for brands

For brands too, the power of AR should not be underestimated. Gatorade has seen first hand what an AR filter can achieve. Its Super Bowl Snapchat filter received 160 million impressions, compared to 115 million people who tuned in to watch the Super Bowl itself.

How did Gatorade manage to steal the limelight, not only from other Super Bowl brand ads but of the Super Bowl as an event? The Gatorade Dunk consists of the winning players pouring a bucket full of Gatorade on their coach – it is a tradition that has been around since the 80s, and belongs squarely to winners. Gatorade used this moment to create a filter on Snapchat which allowed fans to experience their very own Gatorade Dunk. They tapped into something so culturally relevant, iconic, and true to the moment that it couldn’t fail. This filter provides entertainment, but more importantly it gives people the opportunity to engage with a brand in a way they can’t through traditional media.

Impact on consumer experience

AR is also changing the way consumers buy from brands. 61% of consumers say they prefer retailers with AR experiences. It is no surprise that brands such as Farfetch, Amazon, Sephora, Nike and Ikea are introducing AR into the consumer journey. Partnering with social media platforms is one way to explore AR – both Farfetch and Prada teamed up with Snapchat to create filters (or Lenses) that allow users to try on new items. In-app and web AR experiences are also proving popular. AR creates ease in the consumer journey, providing consumers with confidence and greater product interaction and exploration.

What’s next? 

Above is a glimpse into what AR means for us moving forward and how it can provide an added level of interaction between brand and consumer. But what about creators? Where do they come into this and what can AR do for them? In the next article we’ll explore AR as a tool for content creation and what this means for creators.

Article written by Kinda Savarino, Senior Designer at Billion Dollar Boy.

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