So we here at Hybris Labs have been working on a new AR prototype (well it’s under wraps for now, so pretend to be surprised when we actually unveil it); so I figured it’d be a good time to give a quick rundown on what AR is and how it works, as well as some of its uses in Commerce (just in case we decide to give you a pop quiz). I’ll also give one of my own ideas.
AR, in case you didn’t know, stands for augmented reality and what it does is enhance the real world by supplying computer generated data (augment it, if you will. You never would’ve guessed huh?) – this is often done by superimposing computer generated images (CGI) onto our view of reality but something like using sound to augment reality can also be done.
(Remember that one scene in Iron Man where Tony interacts with the holograms in his lab? You know how that made you think “that’s so cool! I wish we had that in real life”? Yea well that might be our reality soon, although you may have to be as rich as ol’ billionaire Stark to buy one when Microsoft’s HoloLens initially comes out)
Now onto how AR works (in a simplified way). For the most part all forms of AR work in a similar way (on a basic level anyways) with a few differences depending on what hardware is used (Head mounted displays, Spatial AR, smartphones etc.) In essence it takes information from the real world through GPS, compass, camera etc. (and if a server is required sends it to the server first) then processes and returns the data as media (text, video, image, 3D models etc.) and through an output displays the media (outputs such as: a screen, speakers, and… you know what? I’m pretty sick of how long all of these lists are).
There are several ways AR could be used in Commerce, one way is by displaying product information with AR through our smartphones. Just imagine pointing your phone’s camera at an item and having all its details floating around the object in question (well you don’t have to imagine, I do have a picture of it below after all). With this you could easily find out, say an article of clothing’s price, available colours and sizes as well as how the prices compare to other retailers.(Of course food works too, just don’t walk into a clothes store to look for a $2 chocolate bar, and then blame us when you can’t find it)
We could also use AR to visualise what an item of furniture would look like in your house. Say you’re unsure if you have enough space for that comfy leather sofa you want, or say you want to test what colour of a table would look best in your dining room; well this is where AR comes in. By simply pointing a smartphone’s camera at a spot where you’d like to place the table (and opening an app I suppose), you would be able to see a 3D life-size model of that table appear on your smartphone’s screen- thus allowing you to see what the furniture would look like in your home before you commit to buying it.
Finally my idea for a use of AR is to have a sort of virtual changing room. Honestly for me the worst part about shopping is how long the act of trying on clothes is. So I thought it’d be a cool idea if there was a changing room where you could have the clothes superimposed on you (as a virtual 3D model), so you can check its size and if it looks good on you without ever having to take off your clothes, as well as allowing you to easily change the colour and size of your clothes in the changing room(assuming they have said colours and sizes in stock).
There you have it, a quick rundown on AR and how it can be used; now you’re set to go out and do as you please with this new found knowledge you’ve acquired.