Part Two: Virtual, Augmented or Mixed: Which Reality Will You Choose?

By Camille Blanchard, VP, Head of Innovation, West Cary Group

When last we wrote, we examined how Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) are set to disrupt the digital landscape. Now, we begin exploring which channel might be best in which to invest your marketing dollars, beginning with AR.

Augmented Reality: Where Virtual and Physical Collide

Augmented Reality (AR) is a term that was coined in the early 1990s by Boeing researcher Tom Caudell. He used it to describe a head-mounted digital display used by aircraft electricians to guide them as they assembled electrical harnessing for the plane’s equipment. Twenty-five years later, the term has come to encompass all experiences that supplement or enhance the real world with virtual information.

There are several characteristics of AR that make a good case for persuading marketers to pursue it. As Gaia Dempsey, managing director of AR developer DAQRI, says, the true beauty of AR is that it “puts digital information into the real environment so you can see it in the context of the word around you.” This proves valuable on several fronts. AR technology can:

1.     Provide a non-jarring experience. Unlike VR, with AR, the brain can easily discern between what is real and not real, so the likelihood that the body will retaliate (read: regurgitate) is infinitely smaller.

2.     Offer rich experiences as an extension of the self. Currently, mobile applications have the power to enhance users’ mental capacity by exposing them to a steady stream of information via the internet. They alter users’ physical capabilities by turning them into builders of villages or killers of zombies. AR works splendidly in conjunction with mobile devices, so users’ capabilities can became infinitely richer when introducing a virtual world into the physical mix.

3.     Tap into a receptive market. According to comScore, smartphones and tablets accounted for the bulk of growth in digital media consumption (up 394 percent and 1,721 percent, respectively) from 2011 to 2015. For marketers, this means there’s an eager audience craving digital media that has the device to receive said media in the palm of its hand. Half of your work is done for you.

That’s not to say that AR is perfect. At the beginning of 2015, only 39 percent of all global mobile connections were classified as “broadband” – meaning they can acquire either 3G or 4G service. With such a wide connectivity gap between blazing mobile speeds and those who actually have access to them, employing sate-of-the-art AR to the wrong geographic audience too early could cause companies to create a dissatisfying consumer experience that might tarnish their brand.

Moreover, AR is not fully immersive by its very nature. It takes an excellent content creator to craft a believable illusion – especially when placed in proximity to real-world context. In the absence of stellar creative and skillful development, consumer disconnects can easily occur.

WCGi views the above as obstacles, not obstructions. We’ve been developing AR strategies to overcome its inherent shortcomings while driving better business results by deepening immersion and increasing user engagement.

Curious? Contact us about our digital service offerings and find out how we can use them to maximize your revenue and separate you from your competitors. And be sure to tune in to the next blog in our series to continue the reality discussion.

Next: Virtual Reality – A 360° Experience

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