According to a study from the International Data Corporation (IDC), the research firm, worldwide spending on AR and virtual reality (VR) is set to hit $17.8bn in 2018. This is up massively from what was estimated at $9.1bn in 2017 as consumer and business use cases grow. “There is currently a huge appetite from companies that see tremendous potential in the technology, from product design to retail sales to employee training,” said Tom Mainelli, program vice president, devices and AR/VR at IDC. In the commercial arena, retail will be leading the charge as largest sector for 2018 spending on AR and VR. Moreover, retail and online retail showcasing are expected to be the largest use cases with $950m of spending. This just demonstrates the importance of recognising mixed realities for the sales and marketing agenda. Marcus Torchia, research director of IDC customer insights & analysis, said: “Phone-based AR is likely to garner most of the excitement for the near term and many companies are already experimenting with AR apps and services. Some of these will be useful, many won’t be, but over the course of the next 12–18 months, we should start to see developers beginning to grasp the potential of AR.” In the UK, there has been a decline in high street shopping with the advent of online but Warwick Business School believes that AR apps can transform the high street for the better. A study based on a survey of almost 21,500 smartphone users in the US revealed that 48.8% were happier with goods bought through an AR app. Integration of AR is therefore expected to help stores stand against rivals on the web, as 41.2% said they’re more likely to
There is currently a huge appetite from companies that see tremendous potential in the technology, from product design to retail sales to employee training purchase items from a retailer using an app. Notable AR benefits include tracking down extra information and testing out products before they buy. Meanwhile, full integration, fast speed and ease of use are key areas that retailers integrating AR into stores will need to be on top of, as respondents highlighted those as issues stifling use. Bose, the audio equipment manufacturer and retailer, is one business capitalising on the AR movement this year as it revealed Bose AR, which was dubbed “the world’s first audio augmented reality platform”. The idea is that AR needn’t just be visual – businesses effectively have the means to mould it to suit their needs, whether that be interaction, brand awareness or, in the case of Bose, sound-based. In what is specific to its audio business model, Bose AR was showcased in the form of a pair of glasses that allow the wearer to hear what they’re seeing rather than primarily amending it with an
alternate visual reality. The wearable is said to know where the user is looking, thereby adding music, travel, educational and other layers to the experience, such as weather updates or restaurants nearby, for example. To that end, the business has opened its doors to collaborate with others, counting TripAdvisor and Yelp among partners. “Bose AR represents a new kind of augmented reality – one that’s made for anyone and every day,” said John Gordon, vice president of the consumer electronics division at Bose. “It places audio in your surroundings, not digital images, so you can focus on the amazing world around you— rather than a tiny display.” According to Forrester, the research firm, the previous “immaturity” of AR meant that marketers had failed to lock onto the opportunity of mixed realities. As such, it would be prudent to wake up to the technology’s potential. Certainly, as was the case of Bose, it would seem that brands need to keep their eyes, and ears, open.