Augmented Reality is a technology that has the potential to completely change industries. IKEA and other retail apps have been experimenting with AR. Snapchat have AR filters. Pokemon Go showcased AR gaming. The problem is, all of these examples are nothing more than a gimmick currently.
The AR in Pokemon Go is more of a hindrance than something that heightens the experience. I have noticed that many marketers talk about Pokemon Go as an example of the success of AR, but that is certainly not why Pokemon Go was a global phenomenon. Most players turned off the feature completely because it made the game unnecessarily more difficult. The success of the app was due to the idea of a GPS game. The idea of taking a cultural phenomenon, and placing it in your local town, where you’re outside visiting areas to play the game is why it was so successful.
Snapchat’s AR filter is used for a bit of fun and doesn’t realistically serve any real commercial benefit.
IKEA’s AR feature is definitely the one here that showed some true potential. It genuinely makes sense to be there, it just isn’t that great at the moment. The idea is for AR to show a room of yours, but with furniture you’re thinking of buying. Creating that illusion gives customers great insight into what their house would look like with furniture they’re interested in.
If the likes of the IKEA app can truly understand the full scope of rooms and truly simulate a room with new furniture in there, we really could be onto a winner. It would revolutionise the online furniture industry. Maybe dooming physical retail, but taking online retail to a whole new level. I really believe that if this technology grows, it will only be a matter of time before it explodes into the mainstream.
What if augmented reality made its way into our everyday lives? What if augmented reality became an integral part of map navigation? Well, Google is looking to answer that question. Google is testing Augmented Reality within Google Maps.
Maps will path out arrows in front of you by using your smartphone camera and your GPS route on Maps. Google has already got AI camera experiences with their own Google Lens feature that sits within their Google Photos app. This is another technology that has genuine real potential. Again, it’s not quite there yet, but the whole prospect of being able to take a photo of something to receive prices and information about that photo is huge.
Time will really tell how reliable Google Maps AR will be, but if it works well, I think it could revolutionise the way we use maps.
Something that holds higher value here compared to their AR competitors is purely the install base and how often Google Maps is used every day. If you’ve got an already established app and service, with millions of people using it every day, throwing this in as a feature will have a much bigger impact.
I think Google really needs to get this right before pushing this live to every user. If it is yet another gimmick or doesn’t work very well, I think users will try it and then give up on it. Even if they keep improving it, I think it will be a battle to convince users that this is the future. If they get it right early on, I really believe it could fire this entire technology straight into the mainstream and set the precedence for how users use their smartphones.
It’s certainly interesting times, we are on the cusp of a technological breakthrough that will change retail and smartphones forever. We previously spoke about some of the technologies looming that have huge potential here.