The Oakley Mobile Blog

Augmented Reality… fad or value add?
Tuesday April 5, 2016

As our previous article (Can pixels and paper coexist?) explained, virtual reality headsets, interactive games, 360o videos and augmented reality apps all now play their role in enhancing printed media. Here we delve a little deeper into three specific uses of augmented reality with some good and not so good examples of how the technology has been put into practice with print.

Window shopping

IKEA, famous for flat pack furniture, car park arguments and meatballs (not necessarily in that order) recently developed an augmented reality app for potential alan-key-weilding assemblers to use pre purchase. Instead of ensuring all products ship with the right amount of fixings, they’ve addressed a common problem that most people face when choosing home furnishings; seeing what the item will actually look like in your home until it’s too late.

It can be difficult to visualise the size of a piece of furniture and many people have made mistakes buying sofas that are just too big for the room. As their video shows, you simply place the brochure on the floor, open the app’s viewfinder and ‘hey presto’ the 3d modelled furniture is magically augmented into your living room. The tech instantly provides the much-needed context to buy or not to buy.

We like the concept of the IKEA augmented reality app, but has it worked in practice? With mobile technology, there’s a balance to strike between quality and speed. In this case, IKEA may have placed the emphasis on quality in an attempt to make the product images look as realistic as possible, which has resulted in reports of the app being slow and clunky. The search and browse features could also do with some improvements to make it easier to find products.

We applaud the overall idea of enhancing the shopping experience, but it reminds us of one of their bookshelves, it looks finished, but some fixings are missing. 

Bringing colouring-in to life

Another great application for augmented reality is through children’s books. As we’ve explored in previous blog posts, the possibilities for augmented reality and print are endless. We use the phrase ‘bring to life’ a lot when talking about augmented reality, so if you think about it, print and augmented reality should be the perfect partnership.

Unfortunately this was not the case for Disney’s first venture into the world of augmented reality. The colouring book app received poor reviews, with many saying that the app doesn’t load properly or it just doesn’t work full stop.

Needless to say the original app was pulled from the app stores. However, a recent video from Disney Research Labs showcases an improved app in action whereby the colouring-in is augmented in real time. Now that is magical!

Driving the sales experience

Fans of AUDI (me included!), have come to enjoy not only the cars, but the whole experience of choosing a new car, through to on-going customer service and complimentary car washes! AUDI have correctly recognised the gadget geek nature of their target audience by developing an interactive version of their sales brochures.

We see time and time again, companies developing augmented reality apps just for the sake of it. But this app dovetails beautifully with their brand image of stylish design and cutting-edge tech.

The augmented reality app is exactly what your high expectations demand. Photography comes alive through beautifully shot videos and interior images can be explored via interactive onscreen hotspots. One of the only negatives we can identify is that app doesn’t automatically feature the brochure’s content. Once you’ve installed the app you then need to download specific brochure content separately. In our opinion this is a car crash in terms of user experience.

To combat this, we prefer to ‘bake’ the content in to our augmented reality apps. Today, we no longer expect buffering or loading of content from YouTube, let alone innovative technology such as augmented reality. The overall size of our AR apps are, as a result, a little larger in terms of download size. However, this trade-off is worth it for the instant magical gratification.

Augmented reality is only as good as how you use the tech. There are many things to consider. But correctly conquer them all and your printed media will be transformed into glorious interactive media.

Fad or value add? Let us know your thoughts.

Written by Bev M at 14:08