There seems to be a lot of noise around augmented and virtual reality currently. To find out what all the fuss was about I did some research and took the rest of the Kingpin team through my findings. 

Here's what I found...

Augmented reality vs. virtual reality?

'Augmented' reality (AR) is actually quite different from 'virtual' reality (VR). 

Virtual reality is 'a fully immersive, interactive computer-generated environment '. 

Whereas augmented reality 'adds digital elements to a live view of the world, often through a camera or smartphone'.

Augmented reality in today's world

Augmented reality is usually thought of as a 'technology of the future' - but actually - it has been around for years. 

For example, fighter aeroplanes have featured augmented reality 'heads-up' displays as far back as the 1990s - showing information about the attitude, direction and speed of the plane. 

The current main use for augmented reality is on smartphones - where anyone can download an AR app to use in their day-to-day life, including the Pokemon Go! app that swept the nation a few years ago! 

The future of augmented reality

Phones and tablets are not the only vehicle for AR. Currently there is research on AR in contact lenses, and other wearable devices. The ultimate goal of augmented reality is to create a convenient and natural immersion, so there's a sense that phones and tablets will get replaced, though it isn't clear what those replacements will be. Even glasses might take on a new form, as "smart glasses" are developed for blind people.

Like any new technology, AR has a lot of political and ethical issues. Google Glasses, for example, raised privacy concerns. Some worried that conversations might be recorded or pictures taken, or thought that they might be identified by face recognition software.

Is AR a fad in B2B?

Far from it. When it comes to these technologies, this is just the start of the B2B marketing journey. Numerous studies show spend on both AR and VR is due to rocket, with B2B being key to this growth. Sectors driving this include manufacturing, construction, transportation and professional services. One piece of research suggests B2B adoption will nearly catch up with the consumer world, and that by 2022 the number of AR/VR experiences in B2B will account for 40% of all experiences.

Why aren’t more B2B organisations using AR?

Many clients are worried about trying new technology before it has been thoroughly tested. They don’t want to waste time and money tackling unchartered territory and are waiting to see competitor results before diving in. Some discount it as expensive, others as a gimmick, or, as time-consuming. In some industries (like travel), there are concerns about quality in comparison to say, HD or high-quality photography.

2014 IKEA catalog

Challenge: IKEA operates in an industry which stands to be the most benefited by AR applications. Often, when we purchase furniture and other home accessories either online or in-shop we struggle to picture how it would look in our actual home. Despite measurements and product estimations, the uncertainty in your buying decision is troubling for consumers and costly for retailers.

AR: IKEA launched an AR app, aided by a product catalogue to solve this problem. They use augmented reality to place virtual furniture in your home. You would unlock the feature by scanning selected pages of the catalogue or browsing them in the digital format on your tablet or smartphone. Then you would place the catalogue where you wished to place the furniture, select the appropriate product in the app and modify its colour and size to see what best fits the space.

Topshop Kinect dressing rooms

Challenge: For many people trying clothes on can be a hassle when out shopping, you may have a disability which doesn’t allow you to be as mobile as others or may not have time to try things on but still wish to know if the clothing will suit you and see what it looks like on. 

AR: Topshop aimed to solve this problem with its AR Technology dressing room in Moscow. They built a kiosk that displayed the image of the person using a built-in camera and overlays the selected outfits on their body. Also, the person can change outfits using simple gestures as waving in the air. Topshop’s instalment was one of the first live-activation uses of augmented reality.

AR Business cards/Banners at Trade shows

There is a way of creating and programming a business card or banner so that when a person views them through a mobile app it comes alive with virtual content such as video. This allows you to captivate your audience and connect with them in a warm way by putting a face to your brand and then you can also engage them visually with your message/product/service and then direct them to take next steps through virtual call to action buttons in app that would show up when in use. So you can take them through the entire buyers journey in 60 seconds.