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The near Future for Augmented Reality – II

The IKEA app using augmented reality lets you get a feeling of how a couch, a cheir, a table available through IKEA would look like in your home. Image credit: IKEA

2. AR as a new way of shopping

According to Gartner AR (and VR) technologies have moved quickly on the emerging technology hype cycle curve reaching the point of industrial application (slope of enlightenment) and they are expecting 100 million people using AR in 2020 for their shopping (both on line and in the brick and mortar). That’s a significant number, and it may signal the start of an avalanche effect for AR in the shopping area.

IKEA has already created an app, see figure, letting you place their products into your home and get a feeling on how much space they would take up and how well they would fit.

Several real realtors are now letting their customers surf the cyberspace in virtual reality to look at the villas and apartments they have and architects are co-designing new buildings with the people that are buying the apartments.

Whilst VR requires special devices and as such is being used in niches, AR can be delivered on smartphones and tablets, an audience that is exceeding a billion devices.

Lacoste is offering an AR app to increase their customers engagement and of course it is not alone. Several brands in the apparel market have developed their own app leveraging on AR.

A growing number of department stores are offering AR fitting rooms and showrooms where clients can augment their experience of a product, be it a sweater (watch the clip), a cosmetics or a piece of furniture.

In the Shanghai metro (West-Nanjing rd station), Lili -a Chinese womenswear brand- has deployed pop-up stores to let you don -virtually- some of their clothes. If you like what you see you can scan the QR code with your smartphone and upload your virtual image for revisiting it later or buy it on-line.

It is clear that AR can enhance the shopping experience and this goes both for the on-line and the brick and mortar shops. These latter are seeing AR as a way to contrast the on-line shift and we can expect the emergence of very sophisticated solutions in the coming months.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.