How Well Do You Know Augmented Reality?

By Natalie Boesch
In Culture

Augmented reality (AR) isn’t new. Esquire released an AR-activated issue back in 2009, and Lego used AR to boost in-store product sales the same year. In 2010, some of the first AR apps, such as Blippar, were developed and released to iOS and Android phones.

I completely missed the beginning of the AR movement but with the increasing accessibility of smartphones, the technology has only expanded and improved. Now, instead of using stationary webcams to unlock digital content, anyone with a smartphone can quickly download AR apps to experience a digitally enhanced reality wherever they are. It’s likely that you’ve been exposed to some sort of AR without even realizing it, so I’ve put together a short list of AR marketing examples to show some of many ways the technology can be used.

photo courtesy of IKEA

photo courtesy of IKEA

1/ Snapchat
Snapchat has recently gotten more fun and interactive because it uses augmented reality in its filters. The camera detects the shape of your face and then turns you into a dog or a rainbow-spewing unicorn or a wrinkled old man with a monocle. The app allows us to see ourselves in a way that builds upon yet defies reality and to share that modified reality with our friends just like any other moment.

2/ Topshop AR Door
Topshop uses augmented reality to help its customers try on clothes without going through the hassle of trying on clothes. Where a full-length mirror would usually be, there’s a sort of door with a built-in camera. It recognizes the human form and then allows you to choose clothes from a virtual rack. The items you choose come up on the screen in 3-D and the camera fits it to your frame. Not your style? Simply raise your hand to try on the next item.

3/ American Apparel Shopping Assistant
Download American Apparel’s iPhone app for an augmented reality shopping experience. When you scan images and barcodes in the store, the app shows the product in all available colors, the customer reviews, slide shows, videos and suggestions on how to wear the item. Plus, you can easily share products you love with your friends through Facebook, Twitter or email.

4/ IKEA AR Catalogue
The fact that IKEA has come to STL is exciting enough in itself, but did you know that the catalogues you get in your mailbox use augmented reality? If you scan selected pages with the IKEA AR Catalogue app, you can virtually place furniture inside your home to see how it fits in your space. You place the IKEA catalogue wherever you want to see the furniture, the app scans and measures the space and then the product shows up to scale on your screen. No tape measure required.

5/ Absolut Vodka
Before I get your hopes up, let me tell you that this AR app isn’t available in the US. I still want to tell you how it works, though. Simply scan the tag on your bottle of Absolut with the Absolut Truths app and the company will transport you to Sweden to see the wheat fields, distillery and bottling plant that make your vodka cocktail possible. You can also view creative cocktail recipes.

6/ Home Depot
Use Home Depot’s augmented reality Project Color app to help you renovate your home or perfect a woodworking project. The app projects your chosen paint color or stain onto the space you scan and then adjusts the color according to lighting and angles. You can also use the app to scan a color you love and find the closest match available in stores.

7/ Google’s Translate AR App
Google’s Translate AR app makes it easy to travel in foreign countries without knowing the native language. Point your phone’s camera at any text you don’t understand and it will show up on your screen in any of the app’s 27 available languages.

8/ Marvel
Marvel is changing the way we experience comics with their AR app. Look for any of their products–comic books, paperbacks, posters–with an AR symbol and scan it with your downloaded app. You’ll get access to trailers, commentary from the creators and 3-D versions of your favorite characters.

9/ Ferrari 
With Ferrari’s AR showroom app, you can build and dismantle your dream car in real time. If you hold your phone or tablet in front of a Ferrari model you can change the features to personalize the car. The app also shows the internal machinery as well as a detailed breakdown of some of the parts which offers a deeper understanding of how a Ferrari is assembled and works.

10/ Crayola
Crayola’s Color Alive! app was developed for kids, but with the rise of adult coloring we may see something similar for older generations in the future. After coloring in an AR-activated page, it can be scanned on the app to make the cartoons come to life. They’ll appear exactly how they look on the page whether you stay in the lines or not. You can even take a selfie with your creation.

11/ Garage Magazine
Garage used augmented reality in its spring/summer 2015 issue to make the fashion editorial come off the page. With the AR app camera hovered over the pages in the spread, models Cara Delevingne, Kendall Jenner, Joan Smalls, Lara Stone and Binx Walton rose from their 2-D forms and became visible from all angles. This isn’t the only case of Garage Magazine using AR: The mag also teamed up with Jeff Koons for his first virtual sculpture “Lady Bug” in 2014.

12/ Sephora
As you walk through Sephora, you can use the store’s AR app to hover over in-store images to watch cosmetic tutorial videos and look through related product lines. They have also developed a 3D AR mirror that applies makeup in whatever color you choose. Sadly, the mirror is only at their Milan location.

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