Augmented Reality (AR) is on the verge of becoming mainstream.
Over 1 billion devices support AR today, and by 2022 that number will surpass 3.4 billion.
You have most likely first heard of it during the Pokémon Go AR game craze back in 2016, spotted images of Google’s viral AR animals on social media or used Snapchat and Instagram filters.
AR's entertainment value continues to grow but in recent years, companies across industries, like healthcare, education, construction, interior design, have also started discovering business applications of AR.
The one business use case that is on the fastest route to entering the everyday, especially after its Coronavirus pandemic boost, is eCommerce.
Unlike Virtual Reality (VR), which fully immerses users in a digital world, AR overlays virtual objects onto real-life objects and environments, making it possible for online shoppers to "try on" products virtually in the real world before making a purchase.
This is especially compelling for businesses who sell high-consideration products, like wallpaper, tile. paint or furniture, as "try-before-you-buy" AR experience helps customers make more confident choices in less time, increasing conversion for brands.
In fact, those who have invested in AR early are already seeing a direct impact on their bottom lines, with companies like Shopify noting that products with 3D/AR previews saw 94% higher conversion than products without.
For brands who don't want to be left behind, AR is a no-brainer, but new technologies can be hard to navigate.
So here are 5 things you need to consider before diving into the world of digital transformation with AR.
Not all AR visualizations are made equal but it's extremely important that you provide your customers with the most realistic visualizations if you are to make AR worth your while.
There's been a rise in AR companies and startups since the release of development tools like Apple's ARKit and Google’s ARCore, and though the technology has been improving, the level of accuracy and realism can vary from totally flat to as good as real.
When shopping around, ask the companies you're considering for a demo to gauge the level of product detail and color match you'd be able to capture with their 3D models (this applies to agencies and AR studios, but especially to pre-built DIY software solutions, whose visualization quality tends to suffer).
And don't forget to ask about Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) capabilities. LiDAR is a relatively new but growing technology which has been a game-changer for interior design as it's able to map the layout of the room and make AR visualizations work around different surfaces, objects and even pets.
This all sounds great, but how much does it cost?
A bespoke AR experience can indeed be very expensive, whether you're creating it in-house or working with an agency.
So far, only large home décor retailers, like IKEA, have been able to afford their own AR apps for mobile devices or experiences for wearable AR devices that are being developed to encourage handsfree use (think smart glasses and headsets like Apple's AR glasses, Google Glass and Microsoft Hololens).
Pre-built DIY AR software solutions are certainly cheaper, but as mentioned above, you will most certainly need to compromise on quality, as well as scalability and technical lift.
But worry not! There are plenty of Augmented Reality development companies that can create high-quality AR experiences that plug into your website, samples and showrooms, starting from just $2 per SKU.
Building and maintaining a custom-made AR experience is a workflow of its own, which can be out of reach especially for small businesses.
So outsourcing your building efforts to an AR studio is the best option for most.
But rather than building your own app, consider integrating AR previews into platforms that your potential and existing customers already use to explore your products, like your website, physical samples or showrooms.
Once you've considered quality, platform and cost of building, make sure that your AR partner can also maintain your AR functionality and solve any technical issues when necessary, so you're not left stranded with broken technology.
Now that you have the bases covered, let's talk speed of execution.
This will vary from company to company, but it is now possible to get one product visualized in a matter of minutes.
And you can expect to get your whole catalog up and running in AR in 4-6 weeks, depending on the complexity and quantity of the products.
Last but not least, it's worth considering the future.
As you expand your product offering, you want to ensure that your AR partner can help you scale by adding new product categories and AR visualizations with ease.
Talk to them to find out what would be possible, how much notice and execution time is needed, and what would be the additional cost.
At Primer, we're building an AR platform specifically for the home décor industry.
Primer brings best in class AR technology to brands in a way that feels custom, with an understanding that every product is unique and ensuring that customers are getting the most accurate product previews possible.
To achieve this level of unmatched accuracy, we create extremely detailed virtual 3D models of products, capturing their exact textures, sheen and finish.
We then turn the 3D models into AR visualizations that take into account the layout and other objects in any given space, and adjust to the lighting conditions in real time with the help of LiDAR.
In 4-6 weeks, Primer can model your entire product catalog, starting from $2/SKU!
Once your AR experience is live, our team of 3D artists and software developers will take care of the technical maintenance and can easily add new virtual products to your AR offering.
What's more, Primer provides a smooth social user experience, making the design process collaborative and fun with easily shareable AR visualizations that users can send to clients, colleagues, friends, family and social media accounts.
But we'll be expanding our supported categories over the coming months to include flooring, furniture and many other items for the home, and are very excited to collaborate with more brands, big or small.