The real promise of AR – from stories to experiences

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It is definitely happening. It is out there. Everyone is talking about it.

2017 is definitely the yeAR.

New versions of Reality are hitting us everyday. Augmented, Virtual and even Mixed Realities are becoming the talk of the town. People are really eager to discuss, explore and experiment with AR.

The willingness of people to “play around” is pure and in my view stems from the fact that all this is “fun to be part of”. Wearing and Oculus or wondering around the office in a Hololens or sharing your cardboard with your colleagues, creates an ambiance of entertainment and clearly touches upon the child that exists in everyone of us.

The playful, gaming connotations coming with headsets and smartphones are really helping pitch the technology right, left and center. After all, who wouldn’t enjoy a spaceship flying over the heads of their colleagues or zombies walking around the company’s parking lot?

But is that all there is to AR? The answer is a clear NO.

While launching First Parallel (www.firstparallel.com), we convey countless presentations to potential customers and partners coming from all walks of business.

A common finding (that eventually becomes a pattern) was that the first part of every presentation was met with enthusiasm regarding the AR evolution. This was followed by a discussion around the platform and its capabilities. The last part however takes the cake! All the enthusiasm and interest disappears when the question was posed “How can we make this work for you?”.

Let me try and attempt an explanation.

I am convinced that the biggest “WOW” element around AR, is at the same time its greatest weakness.

AR’s potential is so much more than games and entertainment. This is the key aspect that limits the perception of the technology’s potential.

AR can really effectuate the transition from products to experiences and help drive engagement with audiences to unprecedented heights.

Effectively, augmented reality introduces new interaction paradigms and brings the user at the center of the experience.

Personalization is redefined. Storytelling becomes storyscaping. Produts become experiences. Buildings and cities become “brand playgrounds”. Calls to action become ever more compelling.

Imagine virtual stores popping up around high-street billboards or while your are at the beach. What about a new loyalty experience in the form of a strategy game? Launching a product? Organizing a music festival or a business expo? Could it be training your employees or running team-building activities throughout the company? Think about shop-floor support to personnel in factories becoming real-time, seamless and effective.

These are mere examples of how this new evolution can make sense to businesses. The sooner technologists advocate that part of the potential, the sooner the penetration of AR to daily interactions with brands, products, services and operations will happen. It is our job after all to drive our technology’s adoption through business impact.

A piece of advice from an Mixed-reality technology enthusiast: Always focus on the business objectives and then make sense of how these can be better served with AR/VR/MR.

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