- Ikea, Major League Baseball (MLB), personal finance app MoneyLion and quartz producer Cambria are among the brands trying out Apple's ARKit, which offers tools to develop new augmented reality (AR) apps for iOS 11, set for release on Sept. 19.
- The Ikea Place app uses AR to help shoppers visualize how furniture and decorative items would look in a home before reserving them to purchase from a nearby store, TechCrunch reported. After downloading the app, shoppers need to take a picture of a room they want to furnish and browse through the in-app catalog to find an item to virtually test out. Similarly, the upcoming Cambria AR app lets consumers and trade professionals map countertops and kitchen islands and overlay virtual images of Cambria designs, according to a press release made available to Mobile Marketer.
- Apple, unveiling its next lineup of iPhone and Watch devices, demonstrated the AR capabilities of iOS 11 using MLB's At Bat app, which lets baseball fans attending games point their iPhones at players to see their stats on the mobile screen, Geekwire reported. MoneyLion's app features an AR-enabled tool that lets users see a virtual representation of their account balance as stacks of cash are projected on a view of the real world, per Tearsheet.
Pokemon Go last year introduced the masses to AR technology, which is now exploding in popularity thanks to a quick proliferation of easy-access development platforms, including Apple's ARKit and also a new offering from Google. While Pokemon Go pointed to AR's mobile gaming potential and ability to tie real-world and digital experiences together, a number of new apps from organizations as eclectic as the MLB and Ikea underscore a broader range of use cases and how the immersive tech might reshape the way many industries engage shoppers via their phones.
Ikea appears very well suited for AR in the same way that direct marketers easily transitioned to e-commerce sales because they had catalog artwork ready to place on a website and back-end operations poised to handle packing and shipping. As Michael Valdsgaard, head of digital transformation at Ikea, explained to TechCrunch, the retailer has significant experience with photographing its products or rendering them with design software for its catalog and website. Ikea also is familiar with 3-D imaging, which is a key part of creating virtual objects that people can move around in AR environments.
Ikea isn't alone among home furnishing and retail companies embracing AR. In March, Williams-Sonoma announced a Pottery Barn app that lets customers see how a specific product will look in their home before purchasing. For marketers, integrating this tech into brands' mobile strategy will likely ease customers' shopping journey and boost sales.
As Apple demonstrated in this week's product introductions, AR has the capability to enhance people's experience of the real world, including live entertainment. MLB's At Bat is an interesting example of using the tech to engage fans who are physically present via a useful app that provides real-time information during a sporting event.
The wave of companies adopting AR speaks to its power in lessening friction in consumers' path to purchase and also shows how the tech can boost in-app engagement and sales, particularly for those looking to harness younger, mobile-savvy consumers. Whether the surge of AR app creation will taper off after the tech's novelty has settled remains to be seen.