December 17, 2021Comments are off for this post.

What is Parallax? (An Arlene Extended Reality Glossary Post)

A standard definition of parallax: the effect whereby the position or direction of an object appears to differ when viewed from different positions, e.g. through the viewfinder and the lens of a camera.

In Extended Reality (XR) applications, Parallax is a 3D effect observed when images and other elements in the foreground of a screen move at a different rate than those in the background.

XR developers use parallax techniques to make the virtual world look more realistic. By adding in a parallax effect, the 3D world seems to behave much more like it would if the person were actually in that environment.

December 10, 2021Comments are off for this post.

5 Key Takeaways from the “State of AR Shopping” Report

Recently, Extended Reality company Wool & Water conducted a 1000+ consumer research survey to “identify emerging trends, opportunities and behavioral shifts among shoppers both for individual clients and to understand the broader consumer.”

Download your complimentary copy by visiting the VR/AR Association

The report investigates consumer perspectives of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), to help brands better understand how to connect and engage with retail consumers in the Metaverse.

The following are key points from this compelling research and what they mean to brands.

85% of consumers are interested in using Augmented Reality with products

Takeaway: AR is here and easily accessible from today’s smartphones. Why miss a chance to better engage with your customers who are—by a wide majority—wanting to interact with AR?

83% of consumers believe Augmented Reality or Virtual Reality improves their shopping

Takeaway: The future of shopping is Extended Reality (XR). Do not let your competitors beat you to the punch.


86% of consumers would choose a brand that offers Augmented Reality or Virtual Reality over ones that don’t

Takeaway: Shoppable AR that delivers both confidence and convenience is a competitive advantage for retailers that can result in higher sales and strengthened loyalty vs competitors.

Just 6% of Snap users list “Buying products using AR” as their primary activity on the social network

Takeaway: Even though Snap has become the posterchild platform for Augmented Reality, brands cannot solely rely on the social network to reach consumers with AR. Companies must build their own Extended Reality programs to reach users at scale with this innovation.

Only 18% of Snap users have purchased using AR shopping

Takeaway: The significant cost of partnering with Snap to reach a small group of users buying on the platform is better spent on long-term investments into a retailer’s own omnichannel footprint to develop in-store and online shoppable AR capabilities.

What this research means: Brands must develop AR shopping capabilities quickly in order to compete in the new digital-first marketplace

Extended Reality (XR) innovations such as Augmented Reality are no longer emerging technologies. As consumers spend more time and money online, they are open to interacting with brands in new ways during their purchase research. AR in the shopper’s journey enables users to better understand and examine products before they buy whether that’s inspecting items closely in the virtual world or even trying products on themselves (i.e. glasses, makeup) or in their homes (i.e. appliances,  furniture).

Brands that embrace XR for how it can impact and influence consumers as they shop will have a leg up on their competitors. Right now, there’s a gap—some forward-thinking brands are using it while laggards are missing the boat. This is the time for your brand to strike and offer shoppers immersive experiences that can steal sales from your rivals.

We also learned in this report that even though Snap has been a company synonymous with XR since its inception, the XR category is growing faster outside of the social network than within it. Simply bucketing your entire Extended Reality strategy within the walls of Snap isn’t good enough. Brands must embrace these innovations and build their own XR practices and programs in order to maximize the benefit that immersive experiences can offer.

For more information on how to build your own XR programs, reach out to Arlene today for a quick conversation.

November 30, 2021Comments are off for this post.

XR in the Wild: Etsy House

XR Program: The Etsy House

XR type: Virtual Tour

Description:  Walk through and explore curated items from Etsy’s marketplace displayed in a 360-degree visual augmented setting. Visitors can virtually tour the house and click on items to learn more about them and be transported to a buy page.

What we like about it: It doesn’t require an app; users can stay within their mobile browser. Users can interact with the virtual drum machine using pieces of the cereal to make real beats. It’s a really fun application for both children and adults.

Here’s what Etsy said about it:

“With photorealistic and true-to-scale renderings, seamless navigation, and 360-degree visuals, The Etsy House transports shoppers to a one-of-a-kind virtual home filled with holiday decor and gifts, Etsy Design Awards winners (both past and present), bespoke furniture and artwork, and other fun surprises. Even better, the house is shoppable – when you hover over select items, a pop-up will provide more information on the product and a link to purchase.”

What we like about it: It adds a spatial context to Etsy’s wide variety of eclectic products that shoppers may have trouble visualizing how they would look in a room. It’s also very accessible, easy to navigate, and can be experienced within both desktop and mobile browsers.

What we think could be improved: The products themselves are not in 3D and cannot be interacted with inside the Etsy House. For example, you can't rotate it to see better nor do they have an AR component to see how they would look in the user's own space.

The Etsy House has a ton of rooms, each filled with clickable items to examine and explore

So, for example, maybe while you're "walking" through the Etsy House, you see this lighting fixture:

When you click it, it opens a pop up that can take you directly to the Etsy marketplace to buy it.

November 19, 2021Comments are off for this post.

What is AR Quick Look? (An Arlene Extended Reality Glossary Post)

Ever wonder how developers can enable 3D objects to appear in your real-world environment via Augmented Reality? For example, if you’re on a furniture store site that lets you see how a chair might look in your living room before you buy it. If you’re on an Apple device, the developer probably used AR Quick Look.

AR Quick Look is a feature of ARKit, Apple’s augmented reality development platform for iPhone and iPad. Although many people may not have heard of it, it’s an important step towards making augmented reality (AR) mainstream.

AR Quick Look enables 3D files of objects to be embedded in Apple’s suite of pre-installed apps such as Safari, Messages, Mail, News, and Notes. With AR Quick Look, you just need to tap on an AR object on your iPhone and you’ll be presented with an interface for placing a 3D object within a live view of your surroundings. These virtual objects can be moved around the room as if they were interacting with the room itself.

Arlene AR Quick Look Example

Check out the AR Quick Look used in the Arlene project: United Imaging

Click the image below to access this AR content.

November 17, 2021Comments are off for this post.

Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration Includes Innovative Snap Lenses to Enhance the Guest Experience

Disney World resorts turns 50 this year, and the company is going all-out with its celebrations as a way to help bring back its pre-pandemic visitation.

The fiftieth-anniversary celebration will be an 18-month affair, called "The World's Most Magical Celebration" with various new shows, new rides, and a slew of other entertainment including digital, immersive experiences like Augmented and Virtual Reality to enhance the adventure of visiting the iconic resort.

"How do we take these really rich, deep stories and environments and do more with them? We don't want to be constrained just by the physical brick and mortar,"  said Gary Daniels, vice president of Disney's digital experience. "We just have so many tools in our toolbox now. When you look at things like [AR], we're going to be able to just connect and engage guests in very different, incremental ways."

Snap AR brings the magical resort to life

Disney has been an early adopter of Extended Reality (XR) and immersive experiences, including games, coloring books, and even Augmented Reality within their cruise ships.

Earlier this year, Disney first announced a partnership with Snap to offer official Disney lenses. According to Snap and Disney, in a combined press release in May, guests will be able to "transform Cinderella Castle with augmented reality," using the My Disney Experience. This app helps guests manage and make the most out of their visit. Resort goers also can add Disney magic to their photos and videos via Snapchat, such as taking pictures holding virtual Disney park balloons or wearing Mickey Mouse ears. You can even get a digital Mickey Mouse to pop up in your photos and hug you.

Disney believes that XR applications such as these new Snap augmented reality lenses can bridge the gap between the past and the future by tapping into the metaverse.

"Generations of families have gone to Disney Parks around the world and been able to have these really magical, unforgettable experiences," said Ben Schwerin, Snap's senior vice president of content and partnerships. "And now you have a generation of young people who've grown up with smartphones in their pocket and cameras that are connected to the internet."

As Disney continues to experiment with Augmented and Virtual Reality, the possibilities are limitless, whether that’s enabling fans to better interact with them at home or while they are guests at their theme parks. This partnership with Snap is just another example of how immersive experiences are helping brands to connect with customers in new and innovative ways.

To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort, Disney PhotoPass and Snap are working to transform Cinderella Castle within your photos virtually. Using the My Disney Experience app, you’ll be able to place your favorite image captured by Disney PhotoPass photographers on the iconic castle with augmented reality. Look through your camera lens in the app, and you’ll see a beautiful mosaic of special moments shared by other guests to celebrate the 50th Anniversary. 

Check out some of these new Disney Snap lenses

November 15, 2021Comments are off for this post.

XR in the Wild: Reese’s Puffs Beatmaker

Brand: Reese’s Puffs cereal

XR Program: Beat Maker

XR type: Augmented Reality/Connected Packaging

Description: On the back of the special Reece’s Puff’s cereal boxes is a diagram of a drum machine. You scan the QR code with your mobile phone and it takes you to a special Reese’s web app that accesses your phone’s camera. Place cereal puffs wherever you like on the drum pad spaces and then hover your camera phone over the box. Using AR, the app “reads” where you placed your puffs and generates a beat accordingly. Move the puffs around and the beat changes.

General Mills calls this the RP-FX series, which features the Crunchy Drum Machine, the Creamy Lead Synth, and Chocolatey Bass Synth

What we like about it: It doesn’t require an app; users can stay within their mobile browser. Users can interact with the virtual drum machine using pieces of the cereal to make real beats. It’s a really fun application for both children and adults.

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November 12, 2021Comments are off for this post.

What is SLAM tracking? (An Arlene Extended Reality Glossary Post)

Ever wonder just how your mobile device can combine the digital and physical worlds in Augmented Reality apps?

Chances are, the AR app you are using is leveraging SLAM tracking.

SLAM is short for Simultaneous Localization And Mapping which instructs a device to map its surroundings and then identify itself accurately in real-time within the map. This enables the device to run digital applications that can virtually interact with the physical world. This is accomplished by using algorithms that simultaneously localize and map (SLAM) the objects.

SLAM algorithms use computational geometry and are often used in applications such as robot navigation and mapping for virtual reality or augmented reality. When virtual content reacts rightfully with real objects within the surroundings, Augmented Reality applications can best interact with the real world.

SLAM tracking attempts to map a device’s surroundings so that it can interact with the area

Arlene SLAM tracking Example

Check out the SLAM tracking used in the Arlene project: NYC Pride.

Click the image below to access this AR content.

 

November 10, 2021Comments are off for this post.

What is Connected Packaging and Why Are Nearly 3 out of 4 Younger Consumers Interested in Engaging with Brands This Way?

There are already 100 million people shopping with AR online and in-stores, with 95% of them saying they expect to use the same amount or more AR when shopping next year.

But how and where do consumers want to engage with brands via Extended Reality (XR)?

That’s the new frontier of XR like Augmented Reality in retail. Brands are experimenting with immersive experiences such RugDirect’s virtual See It In Your Room feature on its website. With this innovation, customers can upload a picture of their own room and see how different rugs look in the space.

Is the next frontier in retail AR “connected packaging”?

Connected packaging refers to the transforming of regular packaging into a digital experience, by scanning, tapping, or pointing with their devices to provide a whole new way for brands to connect with customers - and to collect invaluable customer data, too.

For example, Reese’s Puff’s cereal released a series of boxes with virtual synthesizer prints on them that work with its app to enable customers to make real beats with them.

Forward-thinking brands are using connected packaging to better engage customers and the variety of XR creative executions are innovating rapidly. Böen Wines, launched a connected packaging program called Tap our Cap through an app-less experience on their smartphones using Near Field Communication (NFC) tech hidden inside the cap. Wine drinkers can tap the cap of Böen Wines bottles to learn more about each product’s provenance and food pairings.

However, the new Connected Experience Report 2021, released by SharpEnd, shows that connected packaging is the next big trend in retail technology. According to the research, 53% of consumers would pay more for a connected product.

That’s huge! And this represents now only a way for a company to better engage its customers, but to generate more revenue by pairing immersive experiences with a brand packaging strategy.

Connected Packaging Survey

But how many young consumers are actually interested in engaging with branded packaging to activate these digital experiences? To find out if this is a marketing trend that just marketers love or actually reaching Gen Z and Millennials, we recently used our on-demand survey platform PULSE to ask 16-34-year-olds to ask, starting with if they have ever seen brand packaging digital packaging on any products:

To learn about this new trend, Ypulse asked Gen Z and Millennials (16-34-year-olds) a few key questions to see what younger generations have to say on this topic.

What they found was that:

70% answered that they were interested in connected packaging and 62% had seen it before


And how best should brands engage customers with connected packaging? What kinds of creative executions? Interactive packaging was the second most popular answer behind Games.

Have you seen any great examples of connected packaging?

November 8, 2021Comments are off for this post.

XR in the Wild: Rugs-Direct.com

Brand: Rugs-Direct.com

XR Program: See This Rug In Your Room (Room Virtualizer)

XR Type: In-browser Virtual Try-On

Description: Place one of its rugs in any room photo to get a better sense of how it will look in your space.

What we like about it: It doesn’t require an app; users can stay within their browser and seamlessly go from a product page to seeing the rug in their room. The feature has pre-loaded rooms so the user doesn’t have to stop, but can upload a picture of their own room if they would like.

See it in action below or visit the See This Rug In Your Room (Room Virtualizer) to try it for yourself

October 11, 2021Comments are off for this post.

Keeping Travelers Engaged During the Pandemic: 4 Extended Reality Examples

Out of all of the industries that the COVID19 pandemic has impacted the most, it’s hard to imagine any sector as negatively affected as travel and tourism. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), international travel fell 74% in 2020 compared to 2019.

They say Necessity is the Mother of Invention and tourism boards across the globe needed to innovate quickly in order to keep locked-down and stay-at-home consumers engaged. They knew that one day, people would be traveling again, so it was important to find compelling ways to interact—and drive revenue—with these potential customers in the interim.

One of the most powerful tools to do this has been the use of Extended Reality.

Extended Reality (XR) includes such innovations as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Virtual Tryon, Virtual Tours, 360° product views, and other cutting-edge technologies.

Check out 4 unique ways that tourism boards from around the world have used XR to stay top-of-mind with their travel-deficient, pandemic customers:

XR Tourism Example #1 - The Faroe Islands remote tourism tool

The Faroe Islands’ remote tourism tool, with which users can interact live with a local and use the latter as their eyes and ears to experience the islands. From the Faroe Islands tourism website:

Like all other countries in the world, the Faroe Islands has felt the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Early on during the global crisis, we wondered how we could recreate a Faroe Islands’ experience for those who had to cancel or postpone their trip to the Faroe Islands – and for everyone else stuck in isolation around the world.

We had an idea. What if we could allow people anywhere in the world to explore the islands as virtual tourists through the eyes of a local? Or even better; what if the virtual tourists could control the movements of the locals in real-time?

A couple of weeks later, our idea became reality. We created a new remote tourism tool, the first of its kind. Via a mobile, tablet, or PC, virtual visitors could explore the Faroes’ rugged mountains, see close-up our cascading waterfalls and spot the traditional grass-roofed houses by interacting – live – with a local Faroese, who acted as their eyes and body on a virtual exploratory tour.

To learn more, view the video on the Faroe Islands remote tourism project

XR Tourism Example #2 - Virtual Reality reconstruction of the Baalbek ruins in Lebanon

In a non-pandemic time, travelers would be flocking to check out a new dig site that uncovers some of the most compelling new ruins of the Western World. The ruins at Baalbek are a once-in-a-lifetime archeological find the entire world should experience.

From the SmithsonianMag.com article, Virtual Tour Restores Baalbek’s Stunning Roman Temples to Their Former Glory:

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, few visitors can currently travel to Baalbek, a city in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley that houses some of the Roman Empire’s greatest temple ruins. Luckily, a new virtual tour allows people anywhere in the world to view the site both as it appears today and as it looked at its peak in 215 A.D.

The free app—available for computer, mobile devices, and virtual reality headsets—offers interactive, 360-degree views of 38 locations in the city. Users can listen to expert audio commentary in Arabic, English, French or German and call up additional images and text for more information about specific spots. They can also toggle between seeing the buildings as they appear today and as they looked almost 2,000 years ago.

XR Tourism Example #3 - &Beyond’s virtual safari program

The luxury tour and travel company &Beyond offers a virtual safari program that features live streams from South African game reserves. Virtual travelers can also book Zoom sessions with park rangers to learn more about the region.

From the Forbes.com article, Take A Virtual African Safari In 2020 In Real-Time From Your Sofa:

While a physical visit to Africa isn’t possible, the chance of seeing rhinoceros, elephants, and lions in the wild is, thanks to some game reserves and organizations offering virtual game drives. Virtual safaris are being live-streamed allowing you to virtually “drive” with expert guides who offer commentary and a chance to ask questions along the way.

South African travel company andBeyond has joined forces with wildlife broadcasting experts WildEarth to stream personalized game drives, twice daily, that travelers can view from their living rooms. Viewers are able to join two live safaris a day, one in the early morning and one in the afternoon, each of which lasts approximately three hours. 

XR Tourism Example #4 - Lights over Lapland VR-based northern lights tour 

Before the pandemic, Lights over Lapland offered amazing in-person tours for travelers to see one of the amazing natural wonders, the Northern Lights, in Sweden. While tourists are back and doing things in reality, the company still offers these virtual tours.

From the Lights over Lapland website:

While nothing is as exciting as an evening of chasing the northern lights in person, we believe that we may have found the next best thing – watching the lights in virtual reality (VR)! We realize that it is difficult to travel right now so we thought our loyal fans might enjoy watching a few VR videos that we captured last season.

The first video captures a typical day in Lapland: We start at the world-famous Icehotel before traveling north to the shoreline of Lake Torneträsk where we watch the waves gently roll in. We then head south to Rautas to spend a few minutes with a herd of reindeer before hopping on a sled and moving through pure Arctic Wilderness. Finally, we head back to Abisko and visit the Sami hut at the STF. After a long day of exploring we finally get to see what we were all waiting for: the northern lights dancing in the sky above Abisko National Park, Sweden.

Keep your customers engaged...wherever they are

As transactions continue to surge online during the pandemic, brands struggle to compete in a landscape where customers can move on to your competitor’s products in just a single click.

Arlene’s Extended Reality (XR) platform delivers an epic customer experience that drives consideration, increases sales & revenue, and enables you to interact with consumers showing interest in your products and services.

  • Interacting with products that have AR experiences leads to a 94% higher conversion rate
  • 76% of people expect and desire to use it as a practical “tool” in their everyday lives

Reach out to chat with us for more information or to schedule a demo.