September 25, 2013

Augmented Reality and the Future of Commerce

Of the many emerging technologies that have been the object of much hype in the last several years, the one with perhaps the greatest potential to change the way we interact with the physical universe through devices is augmented reality.

Augmented reality can best be defined as a real-time graphical overlay of a user’s visual environment through a mobile device, tablet, computer, or other piece of hardware. It overlays computer-generated content like images or videos on top a user’s real-world visual environment.

Today, mobile augmented reality applications are beginning to make in-roads into the worlds of e-commerce and product marketing. The technology is turning out to be a dynamic tool in the hands of innovative companies like Ikea, Haagen Dazs, and Sharp.

Let’s explore how these 3 companies are using augmented reality applications to shape the future of commerce:

IKEA – IKEA’s 2014 catalog allows users to superimpose products right from the catalog to the precise area of their home/office where they would like to position the furniture via an augmented reality app for Android and iOS. This allows them to experience the look and feel of the product inside their home without having to spend a dime on it or even go to an IKEA store.

“This year the big difference is the augmented reality,” said Marty Marston, product public relations manager at IKEA U.S., Conshohocken, PA.

Here’s a video of the app in action:

Haagen Dazs – Ice cream heavyweights Haagen Dazs are taking product innovation to an entirely different level. They have launched an iPad/iPhone application dubbed Concerto Timer. This augmented reality application will let users point the camera on the lid of their ice cream and listen to a 2-minute violin concerto. Why two minutes? That’s the length of time needed once you remove it from the freezer for the ice cream to attain the perfect consistency.

See more on the process here:



Sharp – With a global headcount of more than 50,000, Sharp is a force to be reckoned with in the highly competitive television manufacturing business. Earlier this year, they unveiled free iOS and Android apps (although the Android version no longer seems to be available) that employ augmented reality to let potential Sharp TV buyers compare the look and feel of LED TVs between 50 and 90 inches on their own walls.

Photos can be clicked from within the app so as to let users share them with friends/family for feedback. Users can even go through the purchasing process within the app.

All these examples point to the successful adaptation of augmented reality technology into mainstream commerce functions, not just empowering customers but also building brand credibility in the process. Augmented Reality apps are set to drive the future of commerce.

Interested in reading more about why we think augmented reality is here to stay? See Vineet Aggarwal’s post  on augmented reality and its real world uses to find out more.