Since the introduction of Pokémon Go, the app has been downloaded over 75 million times across iOS and Android and earned the record of being most downloaded app during a launch week. The app owes its success to a mix of nostalgia, ease of use and addictive incentives, e.g. levelling up as you capture and evolve more Pokémon.
The app points towards a rise in augmented reality and businesses are already using the craze to their advantage. For example, T-Mobile has put signs in their shop windows, encouraging customers to upgrade their phones to catch all 151 Pokémon. But what is augmented reality and how does it differ from virtual reality?
Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality
Augmented reality uses computer-generated enhancements over an existing reality to make it more meaningful through interaction. Virtual reality is an artificial recreation of a real life environment, usually achieved through a headset. Both technologies are an inverted reflection of each other, with virtual reality offering digital reconstruction and augmented reality delivering virtual enhancements to the real world.
Both don’t always work independently of each other./ They can often be blended together to offer an immersive experience. This mixed reality can be seen in Microsoft’s HoloLens, the first self-contained holographic computer that will allow the user to interact with holograms of their environment.
Advantages of augmented reality
With augmented reality becoming mainstream it’s only a matter of time before brands start using it more to connect with customers. Brands could benefit from improved conversion rates, especially retail stores as virtual shops will reduce inventory costs and long, physical queues. The gamification of products can lead to greater customer interaction and work as an incentive for a quicker purchase.
The technology could be used to develop a virtual catalogue, showing scaled models of a product and demonstrating how they fit inside a home. Brands could potentially develop anything from reading nutritional value on a box of food to creating a coupon that customers can redeem at check out.
Augmented reality as a reality
Snapchat are making the most of augmented reality through their geofilters, which target users in a specific area. When a picture has been taken, the user can choose a filter that generates brand awareness. Their ‘Memories’ feature allows customers to create real time moments as well as piece together a story using previously published content.
Fashion retailers New Look developed a free app called Reality Engine that allowed young people to scan their New Look student card to reveal special offers and interactive features. Students were able to look around certain stores and be exposed to unique content such as designing their own style with New Look products via mobile.
Looking to the future
With the augmented reality market expected to reach $150 billion by 2020, the future is looking bright for apps. Pokémon Go won’t be the last location-based augmented reality game, but it will certainly be deemed as one of the most popular. Through a combination of video, GPS, sound and images, augmented reality has proven that its only limitation is imagination. Ultimately, the main revolution is not in the technology itself but in the accessibility. All that’s needed is a phone with internet connection and the excitement is within reach of all.