Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Augmented Reality: profit driver or techy toy?

You may have read about ‘Augmented Reality’, or AR, the latest techno catch phrase used to denote gadgets or software that superimpose layers of visual data onto ‘real life’. Two examples from the world of ecommerce caught my eye this week and both are worth looking at. But should merchants be adding AR to their list of website upgrades?

The first is an AR application for Glasses Direct:




You can try it for yourself (if you have a PC) by visiting www.glassesdirect.co.uk/video-mirror.

The second is an application that is supposed to help shoppers decide if clothes suit them:




My advice is to avoid this sort of feature for the foreseeable future. It can’t really replicate the experience of feeling and wearing a pair of glasses or a shirt and it is probably beyond the technological capabilities of all but the most dedicated shopper. The best AR can do is replicate holding up a garment in front of you, but holding up and trying on are two very different things. The Glasses Direct application - when refined - might be the exception that proves the rule, but for most other fashion categories I predict that AR will not be useful.

These both remind me of ‘My Virtual Model’, a feature introduced by Lands End in 2005 or so. It was very fiddly to use and although it is still active on the Lands End site it is hard to find and I haven’t seen it anywhere else.

None of these applications are playing to the strengths of the internet, just trying (and failing) to reproduce the experience of real shopping.

1 comment:

Gregory Saumier-Finch said...

Hi. I work at My Virtual Model and we are currently launching our latest technology called Quick3D. This breakthrough means that retailers can add their entire collection to our Virtual Dressing Room because it takes 2 minutes to create a 3D garment that can be mixed & matched on any personalized virtual model. Read about it on our corporate site: http://corpo.mvm.com.

You can visit our community to see how active we are in adding new brands on a daily basis. You can now vote for the garments and brands to be added each week. http://www.mvm.com.

My virtual Model also allows you to add a photo of your face, and create stunning outfits to share with your friends. In my opinion it beats AR mainly because of the quality and outfitting capabilities.

I am interested in what others have to say about the AR hype. My Virtual Model has proven mertics that show increased conversion and AOV on ecommerce sites. I have yet to see any metrics on sites using AR. Has anyone else hear of positive metrics?