First published on CHATTYBRAINS.COM on August 16, 2013
It wasn’t that long ago that the word “augmented” simply meant that something had been made greater in number, size, strength or value. Although most of us didn’t use this adjective on a daily basis, we were comfortable in understanding it’s meaning.
Recently however the term Augmented Reality (AR) seems to be appearing everywhere, although most people would have difficulty defining it, providing an example or using it in a sentence.
Although AR has been around for decades, last year’s announcement of Google Glass attracted such a huge amount of media attention that many would be forgiven for thinking augmented reality had just been invented by the Silicon Valley giant. According to the media hype we were all about to turn into Minority Report-like characters with all the information needed to complete our daily routines accessible through odd-looking eyewear and a few waves of our fingers. As more information about the glasses was released and understood, it soon became obvious that Tom Cruise was going to retain his futuristic status and that Glass could do a few interesting tricks but not augment our reality.
Since then there have been a series of announcements, crowdsourcing fundraisers and even early launches of glasses that claim to offer a true AR experience. Companies such as META are now taking orders for their glasses which are already proving to be more exciting than Google Glass (view demo here) and Microsoft filed a patent this month for AR gaming glasses with facial recognition and voice commands.
Without realising it however, many of us are already using, or are exposed to, augmented reality technology. The arrival, and success, of smartphones has been a marketer’s dream, suddenly planting a direct, personal and targeted distribution channel right into the consumer’s hand.
This month IKEA will launch its 2014 catalogue app (available for iOS and Android) with a key feature that will distinguish it from last year’s version. To compliment the print copy of their catalogue, customers who download the app, will be able to place over 100 of the famously funny-named products directly into their home or office through a 3D image. A physical copy of the 2014 catalogue must be in the shot as the app uses the book’s dimensions as a guide to get the scale just right.
Downloading time for the images has been drastically reduced thanks to the optimised use of cloud delivery systems that do not require the user to download images locally.
The app is already available for download but will be activated at different dates throughout August in each location. Hong Kong’s users will be able to reinvent their homes via smartphone from August 19th.
Peter Wright, country marketing manager of IKEA UK & Ireland explains the background behind the need to help customers plan their purchases better. “Our customers want to be able to test out whether the products they’ve been inspired by in our catalogue will work in their own homes – particularly when it comes to larger pieces of furniture. Offering a way of using mobile technology to enable to test products means the technology has a practical purpose and really helps customers visualise the way their homes could look.”
According to the company’s research, “many customers suffer from ‘Square peg, round hole syndrome’ as 14 per cent say they’ve bought the wrong-sized furniture for their rooms and over 70 per cent say they don’t really know how big their own homes are.”
Other ways in which the print and the digital catalogue will compliment each other are the 50 pages that can be scanned with the mobile app to receive additional product information, videos and alternative views of products.