2018 was a massive year for augmented reality (AR) with major leaps in not only innovation but application. It’s no overstatement to say that 2019 is shaping up to bring even more significant changes to the market that will have a tangible impact on the way that marketers and businesses interact with their audiences. Before diving into the possibilities, let’s explore the major AR trends that happened in 2018 and the innovations we can look forward to in the coming year.
- AR gained mainstream attention, attracting bigger players. While public knowledge of AR increases gradually each year, 2018 was significant for the sheer number of major players that announced plans to dip their toes in the water. AR and social media have always had a lot of potential together, so it makes sense that the giants of the sector would bet on AR being the next big way to create new engagements and interactions for marketers to use. This means there will be more access to AR tools than ever before.
- Interactive packaging has arrived. Last year, the word got out about the untapped potential of passive print in packaging. Increasingly marketers looked to AR-connected packaging to turn limited, single-use experiences into a valuable opportunity for direct dialogue with their end users. The growing experience economy is more relevant than ever before, and marketers are pulling out all the stops in areas that have creative potential.
- The power to teach through AR. 2018 solidified AR’s status as a legitimate tool for learning and development in the workplace. More and more research has come out about the positive effects that AR can have on the brain in processes like learning and training – especially when it comes to enhancing memory encoding. For employees who require intense training in their positions, this technology allows for a deeper level of interaction that keeps contributes greatly to safety and efficiency.
On The Horizon
- Mobile Web AR becomes more prominent. While native apps tend to dominate how users interact with major brands (such as your banking app, retailer loyalty app, etc.), most small businesses are not equipped to develop and support an app of their own. AR-integrated social media solutions may be helpful to start, but there is little flexibility in tailor-making those services to the needs of individual companies. Mobile web AR will present itself as a viable solution for many who have the budget and still want to get into the AR game.
- Consumer MR takes a step forward. The most challenging part of consumer MR is the amount of time that goes into collaborating on such massive, shared experiences. However, technical advancements with AR signal that a leap forward is likely to occur, and we’ll all be closer to the huge collaborative experiences the medium has been building up to. Some companies have already made some positive first attempts, which bodes well for the coming year.
- Evolution into an always-on content source. So far, the most common type of AR application has been creative and immersive marketing. While this is great, many companies and brands are looking to adopt an AR strategy that moves beyond simply an initial, one-off experience. Rather than having one interesting interaction with a single product, AR has the potential to become an opportunity for consistent interaction between brand and audience. Whether used for product information or to showcase brand lifestyle, AR will very likely grow into a constant source of content.