AR apps like Ikea’s Place let users see selected products in augmented reality in a location of the users choosing. Additionally, users can highlight a real or virtual piece of furniture to find similar items sold by Ikea. While these concepts have not become a necessity for every company, they will soon become the new normal that users expect.
Apps like this could be used to sell a variety of products. Instead of companies like Amazon shipping clothes then the user sending back what they don’t like, users could simply look a mirror and see the clothes they are interested in on them. Also imagine larger projects such as home improvement. Users could see what their house could look like as a different color, different interior configurations, etc. Consider, however, everyday purchases such as food. Apps could show what certain produce looks like and how to pick ripe produce. They could also show where certain products in the store are located. Imagine following a flying Cheerios box to the cereal aisle.
Environments could be shared among users. A family could furnish the house virtually and, as long as they don’t want to physically use the furniture, would be fine. Users could also spruce up their existing furniture by placing new items over it. For example, placing a new table from Ikea at the exact some position and scale as a folding able.
This technique has great potential to motivate users to buy products. For a lot of people, seeing is believing. Imagine a user being hungry and their favorite food from their favorite restaurant appears on the table. Or imagine a user really wants to buy a car and they can put different models in their driveway using AR to try them out. There is also a flip side to this. For some people, the augmentation would be enough to satisfy their wants for the product. Art, for example, could be placed on walls using AR glasses and the user would not need to actually buy the product.
There are some cons and problematic topics to discuss, however. Users would need to be in full control of the augmentations they are seeing. They should be able to turn off “sponsored” augmentations in their home and while participating in potentially high risk activities like driving. Additionally, augmentations should clearly be labeled as virtual. For example, a user should be able to tell a virtual couch from a physical one before they sit down and fall through the augmentation. For now this is not a huge problem as photorealistic rendering is not available on phones and users are not seeing augmentations in their full field of view. Apps would also potentially need the ability to differentiate between screens and the physical world. Nobody would want an Ikea table appearing in front of the screen during the next Marvel movie or while they are trying to file their taxes.