For brands, the promise of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is crafting immersive and inclusive experiences.
Some are already using AR and VR-powered applications to let customers try out their products. The IKEA Place app allows people to virtually position a particular piece of furniture in their house and get an idea of how it would look in their living space. Maybelline’s virtual makeover and online makeup application tools let customers experience their products virtually. Not just brands, large events and festivals are using AR, VR, and 3D applications to create interactive and immersive experiences.
But these are far and few between. Companies are really yet to buy into these technologies. The discomfort of wearing a heavy AR/VR headset, the disconnect with the real world when wearing one, and the high price tag these solutions come with are obvious hindrances to their uptake. But with innovations like the Apple Vision Pro coming into the market, are we going to see mixed reality finally taking off? And have marketers finally got what they need to deliver truly immersive experiences?
A new era
Blending the digital world with the physical world seamlessly with spacial computing
With Apple, a company that has revolutionized industries from phones to movies entering the headset market, we could be looking at the beginning of a new era of immersive experiences in marketing. One where using an AR/VR solution doesn’t mean cutting yourself off from the real world. Where you could easily navigate between a virtual world, a digitally augmented one (with virtual objects in your real world), and the real world. The company calls the Vision Pro a ‘spatial computer’ that blends digital content with the physical world seamlessly while allowing users to stay present and connected, making it clear it is not about escaping into an alternate reality. With a solution like Apple Pro, you can get as immersive as you want or come back to reality instantly by simply scrolling with the user interface.
For marketing, the possibilities are many. Imagine browsing through a retail website, being transported instantly and seamlessly into a virtual representation of the company’s store, and interacting with store colleagues who can provide extra assistance. This could happen with a tool like Vision Pro, and at a time when brick-and-mortar stores are fighting for survival because of competition from online shopping, innovations like this could help companies combine the best of both worlds. Brands can leverage such innovations to allow customers to explore new places, new products, and new experiences without them taking the trouble of physically going to these places.
Raising the game
Intuitive interfaces and ‘no touch’ controls can drive AR/VR adoption in marketing.
Until now, AR/VR-powered digital experiences have relied on physical interactions, either through a mouse or keyboard, a touchscreen, or hand-held physical controllers. The Pro Vision could be a game changer. Apart from the intuitive interface, features like controls through eye-tracking and hand gestures mean users adapt to it naturally. Users need only look at a virtual element or pinch their fingers together to get a reaction from the object or to select, drag, or scroll through texts or images. They can also dictate or use a virtual keyboard or dictation to type. Advancements like these are sure to help AR/VR go beyond gaming and help these technologies find more takers across industries and among marketers. For the headset industry itself, the eye and hand gesture control instead of hand-held controllers could be the stylus ditching moment that happened when the iPhone touchscreen came along.
Hardware and software specifications also are changing rapidly. New operating systems focusing only on the AR experience are coming into the market. The Apple visionOS, for instance, is an operating system entirely controlled by the user’s eyes, hands, and voice without the need for any physical touch. It’s packed with technology—5 sensors, eye tracking technology, LiDAR scanner, 12 cameras, and 6 microphones, among others.