Will Augmented Reality Explode Following the Latest Boom of Projects?

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Augmented reality isn’t just for games anymore. Adobe, Amazon, Apple—they all rolled out AR-building capabilities over the last few months for use in everything from brands to shopping to art. And that’s just the As.

Adobe, for example, debuted Project Aero in October, a beta version of an AR-creation platform it hopes could help democratize the emerging format to become as ubiquitous as Photoshop. Then there’s Amazon’s AR shopping app, Google’s ARCore kit for Android devices and Apple’s ARKit for iPhones and iPads. (Apple CEO Tim Cook even tweeted about an AR app in Germany for learning about historical places.)

As some of the largest players in tech begin expanding their tools and kits, they’re hoping anyone—and, they hope, everyone—will want to build AR experiences for entertainment, advertising and other industries. And the scale of AR-equipped devices—think& 2.1 billion smartphones—seems to be making bets a bit more attractive to brands looking for audiences. For example,& Adidas is testing AR in retail locations to let customers view a larger variety of sneakers. Fossil is using AR to allow users to try different watch bands, and this month Bose is debuting an AR podcast in Amsterdam. Meanwhile, Red Bull’s AR app brings a mountain biking competition to a user’s living room. Even& YouTube recently ran AR ads in the World Series.

“We’ve been interested in this stuff for a really long time, and it’s now reached this cost equity and tool democratization kind of inflection point where it’s about to get ubiquitous,” said R. Luke DuBois, associate professor of integrated digital media at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering. “We’re in that moment that film was in in the 1910s.”

AR ads are apparently effective. According to a study by Nielsen and AR/VR gaming engine Unity, results of a test on AR ads by QSR restaurants served within mobile gaming apps showed that brand awareness lifted 104 percent, while intent to visit a QSR in the next week increased by 180 percent.& That’s 11 times the benchmark of 9.7 percent for awareness and 33 times higher than the 5.5 percent benchmark for intent.

All this is happening as& VR companies are pivoting to AR. Jaunt in San Francisco recently announced plans to lay off a “significant” percentage of its VR staff as part of a refocus toward AR content. And the increased attention to AR could be good news for better content beyond much of the gimmicky early

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