Augmented Reality: Not Just for Big Businesses

AR designs are becoming more and more accessible to both create and consume.

by The Creative Cloud Team

posted on 05-08-2018

Imagine you hand someone your business card. It’s an ordinary business card until they put it in front of their smartphone’s camera. Suddenly the card comes to life. Your product appears in 3D on the table, or your contact information pops up on the phone screen, or an animation begins, inviting the person holding your business card to immediately engage with you. This is the power of augmented reality (AR).

Emerging technologies like AR offer more options for sparking customer interest and standing out from the competition. And now that AR is supported on smartphones, it’s a viable tool for all businesses. Using Adobe Creative Cloud for teams, you can create designs for engaging AR experiences that will add a wow factor to your customer interactions.

Is augmented reality right for me?

“The technology to create eye-popping AR is finally ubiquitous,” says Mark Asher, director of corporate strategy at Adobe. “There are billions of smartphones in use today with cameras, sensors, bandwidth, and processing power all capable of enabling truly magical AR experiences. For business in particular, AR can open-up new forms of engagement with customers.”

As long as your customers are smartphone-equipped and willing to try new technology, you have a great foundation on which to build something that will set you apart from your competitors.

“You might consider starting simply with 3D modeling of your inventory so customers can view a 360-degree view of your product offering. Or you might add interactivity, allowing users to virtually try your product in their home, on their person, in their car, etc.,” says Mark. “This isn’t just true for consumer businesses, but also for business-to-business companies. Imagine, for example, letting your customers match a part to their machinery by holding up their smartphone with a 3D model of the part to virtually ‘fit’ it.”

From social media filters and adding furniture images to your home to trying on clothes and even makeup, AR is full of possibilities. It doesn’t need to be complicated — but it should help make the experience engaging and memorable. Some of the first customer-interactive AR applications involved using devices to help customers design their own products on the spot. This has evolved to allowing people to stand in front of an interactive mirror and see clothing modeled on their person via AR.

One of the more simple, effective AR integrations is interactive business cards. Another iteration of AR allows users to flash their phone or tablet at real-world objects and receive product information on their device. There are even companies that provide all the support and infrastructure you need to make this a reality for your business. With so many possibilities, the hard part will be choosing just one AR application you want to pursue.

Designing augmented reality

Designing AR is new in a lot of ways, and there are some important considerations. You need to spend time in the planning process to make sure you have a goal in mind, access to the necessary technology, and that your vision of AR is usable for your customers. Bobby Gill, CEO of AR design firm Blue Label Labs, says, “Be as thoughtful as you can in your discovery, planning, and design process. We always meet with the client to align on our goals, technology stack, and usability. That has been key to our success with AR.”

The first thing to consider is how your customers will engage with AR, and where it makes sense to add it into your strategy. Bobby sees AR as essentially fitting into two main categories: “Marker-based AR overlays information onto digital information at a specific location — such as placing furniture in a room — or location-based AR, which displays a digital overlay in a certain GPS location, such as with Pokémon Go,” says Bobby. Determining which of these categories fits your business needs is essential to the overall strategy for AR integration.

Once you’ve determined the type of AR, the next priority is to make sure your AR experience is intuitive. If your customers can’t use it, it’s useless. However, don’t forget this is new technology and there is still a learning curve. Bobby suggests including tutorials and calls-to-action to improve and encourage engagement. “Users need to figure out how to properly engage with the AR, and if they can’t, that’s a problem. Don’t be afraid to help your users by holding their hand a bit.”

Finally, focus on simple, straightforward concepts. Design the experience according to location and surroundings. “It’s always important to be considerate of how and where users will be consuming your AR content,” says Bobby. “AR is cool and fun, so in your design process, think of ways this AR experience will make the product or brand more memorable and useful.”

Coming full-circle

“For the better part of 20 years we’ve been engaging with customers through an awkward, artificial interface using a keyboard, mouse, and 2D screen,” says Mark. “But the combination of voice, touch, gesture, and now AR enables us to start interacting like we were meant to — bringing humanity back to technology. By combining the virtual and real worlds in one interface, AR promises to create more engagement, open up access to more users, and provide far more personal experiences.”

Using AR in your business can open a world of possibilities and increase customer engagement like never before. And now, AR is more accessible to any business.

Discover more design trends you can pursue with Creative Cloud for teams.

Topics: Creativity, Creative Inspiration & Trends, Digital Transformation

Products: Creative Cloud