Augmented reality (AR) certainly caused a buzz in 2018, with plenty of media coverage and heavy investment from tech giants like Microsoft, Apple and Google. Expertshave forecast that the industry - comprising AR and its fully-immersive cousin, virtual reality (VR) - will be worth $200 billion by 2022, with AR contributing the lion’s share of revenues.
This emerging technology involves the mapping of interactive, digital elements to the real world, by superimposing computer-generated graphics, sounds or touch feedback on to a physical setting or environment - like a “digital layer” over reality - to enhance user experience.
Until now, most of us will only have experienced AR as a medium for delivering entertainment, for example, in the videogame Pokémon Go, where virtual anime creatures (our resident gaming expert Kirsty says they are monsters) are superimposed into the user's environment, or in apps like Snapchat or Facebook, where AR filters that track and enhance the subject’s features in real-time can be applied to photos as graphic overlays.
But outside the worlds of gaming and social media, the possible applications of AR are limitless, and as this technology matures and becomes more readily available, it is set to become a game-changer.
A POWERFUL TOOL FOR GENERATING INSIGHTS
As human beings, we process more information visually than through all our other senses combined. So, there is a huge opportunity for researchers to leverage this technology to visualise data more effectively and land insights more memorably. At the same time, AR can be employed as a visual tool for collecting data in a way that is more natural and engaging for respondents.
AR is set to become an incredibly powerful tool for collecting and conveying information, and here is why:
· It lets users visualise multiple dimensions simultaneously, opening up more dimensions than those offered by traditional, static visualisation tools so users can see - and more readily comprehend – additional information like direction, speed of movement and scale.
· It offers an interactive environment for data exploration, users can reach out to touch, manipulate and interact with digital graphics using their hands. This makes data seem more tangible and intuitive to navigate.
· It provides an immersive experience, which can be used in reporting to communicate concepts and ideas to clients more richly and, in data collection, to understand how consumers would react in certain scenarios (e.g. using an AR store environment in shopper experience research)
EMBRACING CHANGE THROUGH TECHNOLOGY
At Netfluential, we exist to help brands grow by embracing change, and as part of this mission we constantly challenge ourselves to embrace change for the benefit of our clients. We’ve already started using interactive video to help us to convey multi-discipline research findings in a more engaging and navigable way. And in 2019, we’ll be looking for opportunities to pilot the use of AR to collect and land insights more powerfully for our clients!