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Taking Tech-Leaps: When AR Becomes Consumer Reality

04/22/2019

The best technologies are those that seamlessly integrate into—and enhance—consumers’ lives. And when it comes to augmented reality (AR), we’re on the cusp of seeing this fully realized in the retail space. From beauty to entertainment, retailers are continuing to integrate AR in ways that enrich the retail shopping experience—both in practical ways and in ways that surprise and delight to create unexpected brand moments.

Here at TF7, we’re continuously testing new technology and how it can be used to enhance retail experiences. Right now, we’re working alongside one of the most advanced AR tech companies—Magic Leap—to explore new retail applications of their next-generation tech. And innovations in this space have us a little more than excited.

Goggles & 4G? No, Glasses & 5G
AR is only in its infancy, and we are still unlocking the technology’s full potential. From a connectivity perspective, the adoption of 5G technology means consumers will no longer be constrained by Wi-Fi. And from a design perspective, companies like Magic Leap are transforming AR headsets from clunky goggles to lightweight glasses, equipped with their own dedicated computing platform and hand controller. If these two factors—connectivity & design—continue to evolve, we’re confident AR’s popularity will increase rapidly. And when it does, brands and retailers must prepare for the next wave of AR—a wave defined by customer experience.

AR: Seeing is Experiencing
The AR technology, like what Magic Leap is pioneering, is another step toward putting tech in the hands (or on the face) of consumers in a way that feels natural. In our Innovation Lab, we set our technologists loose so they can test, learn and discover how this technology can create novel consumer experiences. We’ve begun with interactions such as hand-gesture recognition and manipulating the controller’s accelerometer to expand our understanding and inspire our imaginations. Our aim is to show the variety of ways in which AR can be used as a tool, not just for entertainment, but for education, testing, and engagement. Because the retailers that can do this will connect with their consumers on a level like never before.

Working Together, Achieving the Impossible
We’re just in the learning and discovery phase with this technology, but it’s potential has us glued to our glasses. Consider building an IKEA shelving unit with virtual hands directing you exactly how to attach pieces. This scenario could very well be just around the corner. And around the next corner? Imagine if you could buy just one dress and then simply program the pattern the rest of the world sees. These applications might seem quite a way off, but it’s up to us—agencies, technology specialists and brands—to work together to achieve the impossible. Together with Magic Leap, we’re working towards just that.

Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves. No, we’re not mid-way through our favorite science fiction novel. This is reality. The time is now to start thinking wildly and testing relentlessly.

So how can AR work in the context of your brand?

The future looks more than bright. And we’re ready to see it. Are you?