Technology 5 min read

In-App Shopping: The True Purpose of Augmented Reality Technology

Apps like the are mostly in the concept phase right now. When will the AR medium really take flight? | Zapp2Photo |

Apps like the are mostly in the concept phase right now. When will the AR medium really take flight? | Zapp2Photo |

Aside from Niantic’s hits and a bunch of furniture shopping apps,  virtual and augmented reality are still finding their niche in the mobile app market.

The company Wayfair, known primarily for furniture and home decor, also contributed to the app market, too. The app offers enables augmented reality shopping where, for a moment, products appear in your home. The app also makes use of Apple’s AR platform ARKit as the feature “View in Room 3D”.

But this is not the first app to employ augmented reality in such a useful if mundane way. The AR app market seems to be overflowing with interior decorating and eCommerce, but not much else.

Will the AR/VR mobile app market ever offer real utility outside of furniture shopping and catching Pokémon?

Usefulness of AR in Imagining a 3D Space

Wayfair definitely wasn’t the first furniture outlet to jump on the AR app market train. Houzz, a major competitor, has one available via Apple, as well. Coincidentally, Wayfair and IKEA launched their Android AR apps around the same time (March 20th).

Using IKEA Place, customers can fill various rooms for their home using virtual furniture on a tablet or phone. You can even purchase that item via the app after seeing how it would look using AR.

As suggested in Forbes, this kind of technology can apply to clothes shopping, too. The author suggested that this could further spell the end for brick and mortar retail.

This would need to be integrated with something akin to Google Glass.

Trying to hold your phone in such a way that you can see yourself in AR applied clothes might seem like a challenge, but Obsess has a solution for that. With the system the startup proposes, you can put the clothes you wish to buy on a real model using AR.

Watch the demo below.

The perk of brick and mortar is always service which AR apps can’t offer either. Again, Obsess takes a stab at this issue by offering applications for specific retail stores.

That didn’t stop car companies like BMW and Porsche from joining the app market with their respective takes.

Using the 3D World Lens on Snapchat, BMW developed a 360 degree AR view of the X2 model. You could even adjust the color if you wanted to do so. Porsche developed a similar idea using ARCore from Google.

But seeing a model of an expensive car in your driveway doesn’t do anything. It might #dreambuilding, but if people are in the luxury car market, what’s to stop them from just going to a dealership and buying one? Why use the app first?

They could also order one from Carvana, or get a subscription service.

AR apps are useful in rendering approximations of objects in 3D space. But beyond in-app shopping and spatial renderings, do AR apps have a place in daily life?

An Argument For AR Apps: Real-Time Aid and Teaching Tools

We have written before about AR and VR as teaching tools regarding the pros and cons.

Obviously, one of the biggest obstacles to overcome (especially for VR) is equipment. The barrier to entry that is the sheer cost of equipment is enough to delay integration. Accessibility is a huge factor when integrating a new technology.

But that doesn’t negate the power of seeing gifs come to like via GIPHY World. Little kiddos can even use apps like My Very Hungry Caterpillar AR.

American Airlines developed “Augmented Reality Wayfinding” using the ARKit. You can use it to see interactive, real-time maps on your phone in the airport. It can lead you to food, shopping, and your appropriate gate.

My question here is simply: “Why do I need this?”

I can see signs and locations with my regular eyes. Am I saving time by using this app or am I just wasting time with a neat phone trick?

A better application of AR technology in an app comes out of the app Chalk.

As Tom’s Guide covered, Chalk makes tech support easier for both the IT worker and the person needing tech support. Users utilize cell phones to show what device needs fixing. They connect in a phone call of sorts and use the camera to share information.

The user in need can “doodle” on their phone which shows up on each phone. Then, the IT specialist can guide you on what steps to take from there. The visual aid helps to minimize miscommunication and increase efficiency.

Developed by Vuforia, Chalk is also free to download but it is only on Apple devices.

Final Verdict: AR Apps Are Still Mostly Gimmicks

Unfortunately, technology hasn’t quite caught up with ideas yet when it comes to AR and VR.

It is super neat to see Warhammer 40K characters in real life, but it has a shelf life. So do other AR apps on the app market like the Wayfair and IKEA apps.

The American Airlines app might be useful for some users. But it falls in the same category as AR MeasureKit for me. The idea is cool, but technology is not at a place to effectively support it yet.

What are your favorite AR apps?

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Juliet Childers

Content Specialist and EDGY OG with a (mostly) healthy obsession with video games. She covers Industry buzz including VR/AR, content marketing, cybersecurity, AI, and many more.

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