Augmented Reality used to be a futuristic concept reserved for Hollywood, but it’s suddenly the hottest thing to arrive as mainstream technology. And as small and medium businesses, it carries with it opportunities to advance in your respective industry or fall victim to your competition leaving you in the dust.
That might sound harsh, but the ‘reality’ is that small businesses succeed when they find a competitive edge. North of 90 percent of today’s shoppers hold smartphones which are capable of displaying augmented reality. While AR is still relatively new, it’s one medium with extreme potential to be that deciding factor for customers.
What is Augmented Reality?
It differs substantially from virtual reality. In VR, the user experiences a view that replaces reality altogether. Augmented reality, by definition, is “a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.” It adds to a real-world view instead of replacing it.
In some instances, it’s used to distort reality for entertainment purposes. But for businesses, it can successfully be used to add layers to a customer view of reality.
How Can SMBs Integrate Augmented Reality?
With augmented reality, a small business can add consumer confidence before they ever set foot in a retail location. AR apps can mean a customer makes a better-informed decision on where to conduct their business or learn more about a company’s products or services through visual enhancements.
Gyroscope Based AR
One of the leading versions of augmented reality for small businesses uses a device’s gyroscope to add information or images to a customer’s view around them. A new IKEA app, for example, uses this kind of technology for a 3D viewer to help customers decide if furniture will fit a space, either physically or in the décor.
It has endless possibilities such as restaurants showing menu items on a customer’s table while they choose which location they’d like to visit.
AR with Markers
A key component in many early AR systems is the use of markers. These, essentially, are reference points that the augmented reality uses for placement. It’s best used in stationary forms. Imagine a car dealership’s showroom floor completely empty until you lift your phone and virtually see the image of the car you’re interested in.
An advanced form of AR takes input from GPS, WiFi, and compass in your device. It’s certainly complex and the technology is best left to experts. However, it can be used in amazing ways.
For example, it could be used in a storefront to show users the benefits of a product. Another use is geo-tagging. Or, imagine a landscaper creating a drab-to-fab AR display on certain GPS-based locations in their neighborhood to sell their services.
It Comes at a Cost
Augmented reality development comes at a price, one which can be steep for SMBs. Tecsynt Solutions states that gyroscope-based AR apps cost between $5,250 and $8,750 to develop while marker-based development can be $7,000 to $14,000.
The high end is definitely location-based AR. While the opportunities are virtually endless, it’s going to cost between $14,000 and $28,000 to implement.
But what is the cost of the status quo? Regardless of the industry, sales and marketing are becoming less traditional and small businesses need to embrace it. Early acceptance will set you apart from laggard competitors, giving you the edge you need to take a larger piece of the pie. Leave it behind, though, and your business could be the one to feel the pressure.