Augmented reality applications represent the next frontier of mobile engagement
Mobile enterprises have been enjoying increased engagement among smartphone users for some time now. The sheer ubiquity of mobile devices, along with society’s growing dependence on round-the-clock connectivity, has created unique opportunities to reach customers in new and exciting ways.
This rapid pace of mobile innovation has left many asking, “What’s next?” Augmented reality applications could very well be the next influential evolution for enterprises and consumer brands alike.
It’s all about perspective
The term “augmented reality” typically brings connotations of high-tech gizmos and interfaces more suited to a science fiction blockbuster than anything useful to the modern enterprise. Though it’s certainly true that augmented reality has been used for some pretty wild applications, it’s also recently been applied to some surprisingly useful tasks.
Augmented reality applications center on the technology’s ability to give users a fresh perspective on the world around them. In other words, it lets them experience familiar locales and objects in new ways. It can also be educational. For instance, according to Ars Technica, Hyundai’s augmented reality manual app, which was recently demonstrated at CES, uses the camera in a user’s smartphone or tablet to recognize various components of a car. Rather than dig through a clumsy paper manual while trying to figure out what a particular component is called, the user can simply point his or her smartphone at the knob, button or handle in question and have instant access to detailed information. This is simple yet practical.
In a slightly less educational application, augmented reality can also be used to bring the digital and virtual worlds together. This scenario involves the use of augmented reality to supplement physical materials with the richness, flexibility and dynamic nature of digital content. A great example of this can be seen by The New Yorker’s augmented reality tricks in a recent issue. AndroidHeadlines explains that the implementation gave smartphone users an entirely new way to experience the magazine.
A new level of engagement
All of this talk about new perspectives and experiences begs the question of what exactly this technology offers the mobile enterprise. First and foremost, augmented reality applications present organizations with the ability to further engage their mobile customers. One of the greatest allures of mobile technology from a customer engagement standpoint has been the new and unique experiences it brings. Augmented reality is a prime opportunity to keep those experiences fresh and exciting, and as several companies have demonstrated, they can be practical, too.
Augmented reality’s usefulness as a business tool — be it for marketing, customer support or any other function — lies both in its ability to motivate users to explore products more in-depth and its reliance on non-passive engagement. Simply put, augmented reality applications have the potential to encourage users to pull out their phones more often and engage with content on a deeper level. This is especially true when augmented reality serves as a portal to either additional and meaningful content or when it goes hand in hand with incentives such as digital coupons or special promotions.
Last but not least, these apps find themselves at an intriguing point in mobile enterprises. Mobile devices have reached a significant saturation point, and mobile development platforms have made the process of custom app creation more manageable. As a result, taking advantage of the engaging nature of augmented reality to build truly exciting and useful new experiences for users has never been easier. In a mobile world with so many apps clamoring for user attention, separating yourself from the crowd with augmented reality features could make all the difference.