Augmented Reality and the Future of Brands

Brands are leveraging the power of Augmented Reality to drive business, writes Ravishankar Krishnan Iyer

Pokémon fans were delighted when Niantic launched the Pokémon Go game in July 2016. The dream that millions of fans had of throwing poke-balls to capture their Pokémon was finally fulfilled. People were spotted roaming around streets at all odd hours trying to catch Pokémon. In fact, the game created a buzz worldwide for being an unique attempt to bring the Poke-world into reality.

Pokémon Go was the gaming industry’s brush with Augmented Reality (AR).

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What is Augmented Reality?

 AR attempts to blend the digital and physical worlds experience seamlessly. It is an interactive, reality-based display environment that takes the capabilities of computer generated audio, display, effects to enhance the user’s real-world experience. Since the invention of ‘Sword of Damocles’ by Ivan Sutherland in 1968, AR has grown enormously and has found itself in every field that humans have known. It is currently used in Military, Medical, Navigation Apps, Games, Advertising and Promotion, Automobiles among others.

Several brands across the world are using AR in innovative and immersive ways to draw in the customer. Take the example of US fast food restaurant chain, Burger King. In March 2019, Burger King’s campaign ‘Burn That Ad’ used AR to stand out among its competitors. This was used by Burger King, Brazil. The crux of whole campaign was that the user had to point their smartphone at a competitor’s advertisement. Any kind of advertisement would work – a printed page, coupon or billboard. Once the AR app was pointed towards the competitor’s advertisement it went up in flames revealing a coupon for a free Whopper. The fire theme was used to showcase the long-standing selling point of flame-broiled burgers. Burger King planned to give away half million Whoppers. The campaign was designed to engage mobile user with the activity while promoting the Burger King Express service which allowed customers to skip the line and quickly pick up their food. Using this app Burger King was able to drive more customers to outlets.

Another brand closer home is using AR to drive more business. Furniture and home products marketplace Pepperfry has launched a 3D AR feature on their app. Selecting furniture is a tricky business when one is at the store. It can be confusing to find the right fit among the bewildering variety of options available. Pepperfry’s AR feature takes a picture of one’s room by accessing the camera and whichever furniture piece that has been chosen can be placed with the help of AR. This feature not only allows the customer to see how the furniture will look in their offices and homes but they can also make changes to the arrangement if required. The colour of the furniture can also be changed.

With media becoming mobile-first, brands are experimenting with AR to create better customer engagement and enhance on-ground experiences online.

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