AR on the web too!
|Erik Murphy-Chutorian in Augmented Reality Wednesday, July 25, 2018|
Augmented Reality usage on mobile is exploding as everyone realizes how much it can add to the experience of playing a game, or using software. But where is AR for the web? This article by Erik Murphy Chutorian explores the opportunities for Augmented Reality on the web.
Augmented Reality belongs online. To date, AR has primarily been confined to the app store, but there’s a growing group of visionary developers and companies that have figured out that by “AR-ifying” their products for the web, they win in a larger number of more satisfied and enthusiastic users and customers.
At the moment, we’re seeing an explosion in mobile apps utilizing AR to bring their experiences to life. According to a recent report from Tractica, the market for mobile AR apps is anticipated to grow from 342.8 million unique monthly active users (MAUs) globally in 2016 to a staggering 1.9 billion MAUs by 2022. Yet, the web experience for AR seems to be getting left behind, and its absence is glaring.
As it currently stands, hopeful AR users are required to download a mobile application. If they’re lucky and the app is compatible with their phone and their operating system, then, fingers-crossed, they may have the opportunity to experience it. We call this the AR app gate. With so many factors required just to get an application up and running, the delays and number of potential issues lead to a less satisfactory AR experience and it deprives users of the full benefits and features of an AR experience right from the start.
While native, cross-platform mobile apps may make sense for interactive games, brands demand a different approach. If you’re an e-commerce site, for instance, accessibility and ease of use are the priority. You want to avoid the user experience nightmare of shopping in-browser, only to be redirected to download an app (that may or may not work on that phone). These additional steps create unnecessary barriers to the purchasing process that frustrate customers. Frustrated customers abandon carts.
On the other side of the coin, there’s a huge opportunity to leverage AR for the web to enhance the user experience, by creating a seamless flow of exploring and trying out products before purchasing. Just like a customer would inspect an item before purchasing it in a store, the same experience should translate to the digital world in order to boost buyer confidence. Customers are more likely to feel empowered by these tools and satisfied with their purchases, fostering an overall positive brand experience.
E-commerce websites aren’t the only companies that stand to benefit from AR for the web. We will likely start to see brands incorporating AR into their content strategy, thus connecting with their customers on a much deeper level. Once it becomes browser-based, it’s inevitable that a tsunami of creative AR-branded content will follow, including interactive 3D ads embedded within articles and chatty avatars on websites. There’s something about being able to see a product or character in your own space and interact with it that creates a more memorable brand experience. This, coupled with the shareability factor of the web, is a recipe for content that truly moves the needle.
So, if AR adoption is on the rise and companies have so much to gain from enabling these experiences, why is AR still confined to the App Store? Well, it shouldn’t be for long. Companies like Google and Amazon are already experimenting with AR for the web, and developers are catching on. Since brands like Ikea and Wayfair have already introduced their own AR mobile apps this year allowing customers to view furniture to scale in their homes, browser-based AR is the next natural step. It will be exciting to see how companies leverage AR for the web to bolster their brands and to deliver a smooth and delightful user experience to their customers.
The fact of the matter is, as users become more accustomed to using apps that incorporate AR, they will likely anticipate this experience to translate to the web. It isn’t far-flung to assume that by 2020, customers will expect to be able to try on clothes, view furniture in their home and interact with humanoid customer service representatives - all within their mobile browser.
Augmented Reality is well on its way to becoming the standard in content consumption, and in order to democratize this new and powerful technology, it’s time to get online.
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