Augmented Reality From Fiction to Retailing, Part 2

Susan Fourtané, Journalist, Writer | 12/11/2012 | 38 comments

Susan Fourtané
In part one, we gave examples of clever uses of augmented reality in retail and showed how AR can be a great tool for increasing sales, customer engagement, and enhancing the brand.

To go a little further on what a retail CIO needs to know in order to better deploy AR in their organization, we asked Qualcomm's director of business development in Europe and managing director of the Qualcomm Sweden Branch, Richard Savage, to unveil some tips for retail CIOs who want to get started with AR.

E2: How difficult/time consuming is it for brands/retailers to implement AR, also considering budget?

Richard Savage: The effort and cost varies greatly with the type of experience you're seeking to implement. On one end of the spectrum, you can deploy a direct-response campaign within marketing-oriented apps such as ViewAR or Blippar. This can be done in a matter of days, and with almost any budget. On the other end of the spectrum, you can implement an immersive, high-fidelity 3D experience that provides a whole new layer of digital interaction on top of your physical products. Such an effort can easily exceed several months and requires a higher level of investment. Successful AR projects have been implemented across the entire spectrum.

E2: What are the three things CIOs need to know about AR?

Savage: First, all AR platforms are not created equal. Customers are easily frustrated with apps that don't work. If your AR experience doesn't work the first time, your customer is not likely to try it again, and you risk creating a negative association with your brand. The quality of AR platforms and computer vision technology varies widely. You should select a platform that is most likely to provide the best experience in a widest variety of real-world situations. Customer usage environments tend to be much more challenging than those where you'll see demos -- lighting can vary widely, devices and objects can be moving, and objects can appear deformed and/or obstructed.

Second, use a developer/agency that understands AR. The most common complaint about AR campaigns is they can be gimmicky. This results from experiences that use AR for AR's sake vs. using AR where it really contributes to the experience. If your developer/agency can't explain to you what makes a good AR experience and back it up with a successful campaign in their portfolio, you may want to look further.

Lastly, get started now. While AR is still in its early days, brand and consumer adoption is growing quickly. It is very likely that in the near future, consumers will expect a layer of digital interaction on top of your products, packaging, and print media. This kind of interaction is an unprecedented opportunity for brands to build, maintain, and measure direct relationships with their consumers across multiple touch points in both retail environments and at home. Depending on your product, it may also represent a new revenue opportunity. In either case, it's best to understand AR as soon as possible.


It is now in the hands of the CIO and CMO to evaluate the best possible strategy to bring the marketing plan and the technology together. Getting the timing right, the message right, and most importantly, the technology right, is key. We'd love to hear from you. Does your organization intend to implement AR this coming year? If so, how do you plan on implementing it?

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The_Phil   Augmented Reality From Fiction to Retailing, Part 2   1/30/2013 7:31:21 PM
Re: Which type to start with?
It's an AR app but the maps/coordination/overlays aren't that great. I am not sure if it's a device issue or they do not have too many data points in their source system yet.
SaneIT   Augmented Reality From Fiction to Retailing, Part 2   1/30/2013 8:14:13 AM
Re: Getting it right
That is awesome and a great example of how companies can use the data that they already have to change the customer experience.  Some of the data might not be all the useful but if there was a question about the freshness of ingredients, the look at their supply chain would be able to answer those doubts quickly.  The AR here doesn't look like it was tough to develop either, it's data that they already have, it was just a matter of building a safe query to return that data.
Susan Fourtané   Augmented Reality From Fiction to Retailing, Part 2   1/30/2013 6:08:37 AM
Re: Which type to start with?

You mean an update to Windows Phone that uses the Ikea AR app, or something else?

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Susan Fourtané   Augmented Reality From Fiction to Retailing, Part 2   1/30/2013 6:06:07 AM
Re: Getting it right

Did you see this McDonald's AR app? It allows users to track the origins of the ingredients in the burger you are eating. It follows the supply chain of food using AR to display the results, and it seems to be quite educational as well. 


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SaneIT   Augmented Reality From Fiction to Retailing, Part 2   1/29/2013 8:02:02 AM
Re: Getting it right
The app I downloaded left me less than impressed.  Maybe I got an old version or the Android versions is lagging behind.  If the catalog can do the push products around the room thing then I'm going to download it again and start playing because that is a perfect use for AR and a great way to demonstrate some things I'd like to do from an app standpoint.
The_Phil   Augmented Reality From Fiction to Retailing, Part 2   1/28/2013 10:30:52 AM
Re: Which type to start with?
There's an update to Windows Phone that uses it (not very well). But it's cool to see the potential.
Susan Fourtané   Augmented Reality From Fiction to Retailing, Part 2   1/28/2013 8:05:30 AM
Re: Getting it right

Have you seen or tried the Ikea AR app? The 2013 catalogue is full of AR. It's the closest I have seen to what you are saying about pushing furniture around. The catalogue is quite interactive. 

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Susan Fourtané   Augmented Reality From Fiction to Retailing, Part 2   1/28/2013 7:54:39 AM
Re: Which type to start with?

Yes, but in the case of AR we are going to see rapid changes, also in the sales front, during this year first and then between this year and 2015. Have you tried any AR apps? Do you use AR at your work at all?

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SaneIT   Augmented Reality From Fiction to Retailing, Part 2   1/28/2013 7:36:41 AM
Re: Getting it right
I'm sure it will eventually get there, on smaller scales like home building a model home that can be sold later can be a good tool when it comes to visualizing a new home but when it comes to things like commercial or office buildings a really good virtual walk through would be very useful.  I'm sure we've all seen the really bad flyover type walk through but I'm thinking something more interactive where you could push furniture around, ride in the elevator, etc.  In this case I think demand would go a long way to push the development so I hope someone out there is actually looking for an AR solution to the problem of selling things too big to build on speculation.
The_Phil   Augmented Reality From Fiction to Retailing, Part 2   1/26/2013 11:33:20 AM
Re: Which type to start with?
Much like with most technologies, the majority of sales is in the middle option or tier. So that's probably the trend that will take the lead.
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