Augmented reality is not a thing of the future. It’s here now and its use case for product showcases and industry exhibitions is huge.
What is augmented reality? Augmented reality, often just called AR, is the mixing of the real world and the virtual world. When looking through a device like a smartphone, AR software can overlay virtual objects into the surrounding real world. Remember Pokemon Go?
AR allows for immersive and interactive experiences that aren’t possible in the real world alone. The future in this space will be mind blowing. It will blur the lines between everyday experiences and the outer reaches of our imagination.
This blog post will discuss why AR will be a game changer for technical marketing in particular. And why it will disrupt soon.
Augmented reality is rapidly becoming more accessible
Twenty years ago, AR was a conceptual novelty. Only the likes of NASA had the resources to make use of it (check out their Synthetic Vision System).
The proliferation of smartphones and advances in tech over the last 10 years have paved the way for commercial AR. The aforementioned game from 2016, Pokemon Go, was AR’s mainstream break. It has been continuing to make its way into everyday aspects of life ever since.
Even so, making augmented reality experiences is difficult. Developing an AR app requires coding and expertise in game engines like Unity. This is putting AR in the too hard basket for many companies that could use it for their product marketing.
But this is changing. Right now.
Introducing Adobe Aero
In late 2019, Adobe released a beta version of Aero. This software allows you to make AR experiences without any coding. Simply import images or 3d models, wave your iPad around so that it can read your surroundings, and presto: your virtual object is right in front of you.
The motion tracking and spatial awareness of Aero is stunning. No amount of camera wobble displaces virtual objects from its fixed position in the real world. And you can walk right around 3D elements, like the rocket engine I put in my lounge room.
Aero also allows for the animation of virtual elements, which makes an augmented reality experience even more remarkable.
Currently only Apple mobile devices support Aero. There are limitations in functionality and there’s not a lot of documentation around it. The level of interactivity is also much lower than what you can achieve with a custom AR app.
But, no doubt Adobe has big plans for Aero. It will be very interesting to see what will be possible with it as it develops further.
Augmented reality allows you to show off products that are unavailable, intangible, or too big
Dragging large products to a showcase may sometimes be worthwhile. I’ve seen some grand machines displayed at exhibitions. But doing this is expensive and not always viable.
And sometimes the solution you have for your client may not be on hand for you to show off. It could even still be in development.
What will companies soon be using in these cases? Yeah, you guessed it, augmented reality.
Whenever a physical product is unavailable, AR will allow it to be viewed in all its glory. In large exhibitions to small meetings.
AR could even present intangible products in creative ways. AR Infographics and AR videos could help explain systems and software in a novel way.
Augmented reality creates immersive product experiences
Sure, when you can’t show off a product in the real world, you could use a video or infographic could instead of AR. Videos and infographics are great for presenting technical products and services.
However, if you want to turn your marketing up a notch, AR will provide a more profound learning experience for your customers. AR allows them to immerse themselves in your offering.
With a physical product, AR allows scale to be communicated in a way that no other medium can. AR places the product right in front of you and can be at a 1:1 scale to provide context with real world surroundings.
Or when you need extra detail or a different perspective, you can make the scale of the product bigger or smaller.
Augmented reality also conveys 3D space better than videos or infographics. With AR you can walk around a product as if it were really there. You can basically poke your nose into it.
Augmented reality helps explain product function, dynamics, and things under the hood
When a real world product is available to show off, AR can enhance a showcase in a few ways.
Firstly, augmented reality can provide x-ray vision. This allows you to show the inner workings of your product without the need to pull it apart.
Secondly, by overlaying virtual items onto a real world product, components can be labelled. Or notes and annotations can be added to explain function. This informs your audience on details that may otherwise need to be explained in person.
Thirdly, animation can also be superimposed to convey how parts move. This could be used to show how a piece of machinery works without turning it on in an environment that is unsuitable. Or it could be used to show the movement of invisible things, like air, for example.
With augmented reality you can showcase a product remotely
Online meetings are now a big part of our working lives. And it is likely to stay this way, regardless of how the COVID-19 pandemic plays out.
AR helps in this changing paradigm as it allows you to send a product showcase to your audience virtually. All your audience needs is the appropriate app installed on their smartphone and away they go.
So now, neither you nor your product need to be in the room to provide the real deal.