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Q&A: The future of VR for brands

If 2016 is the year of 360 degree video, 2017 will be when Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) moves beyond Star Trek and into our living rooms. Case in point: Pokemon Go.

Ahead of the Convergence VR and AR Festival, we caught up with Chris Bell, Business Director of Blippar, about how VR can be used by brands.

SMK: What are the differences between VR and AR?

CB: Virtual reality creates an immersive, artificial environment for the user. With VR, the user is isolated from the real world while immersed in a world that is fabricated. VR is experienced through specific hardware devices like the Oculus Rift.

Augmented reality uses the existing environment around a user and overlays digital information on top of it. With AR, the user is able to differentiate between the real and virtual content.

AR can be experienced without the aid of any specific hardware.

SMK: What are the challenges facing AR adoption?

CB: At the moment there are not enough credible players in the field – industry has not yet achieved the critical mass required to achieve economies of scale and scope. We are getting there though with big players like Google and Microsoft throwing their hats in the ring.

SMK: Tell us about Blippar.

CB: Blippar is the leading visual discovery browser using augmented reality, artificial intelligence and computer vision technology to transform how people connect with the world.

When people are curious about objects or brands, they scan (or “blipp”) them, and they instantly discover useful and entertaining content on their mobile device.

SMK: Can you share some examples of how AR has been used successfully by brands?

CB: AR has been used in a myriad ways by many brands such as Nestle, Coca Cola, Disney, and Procter & Gamble.

The applications have ranged from creating brand awareness and launching new products to enhancing the shopping experience. These are done through connecting physical media and packaging with digital content and experiences. 

We have worked with Guinness in Singapore to extend their advertising onto the Smartphone device through an engaging, interactive experience. (Case study link here.)

We’re in the process of developing future experiences to allow makeup brands to launch try-on AR experiences at scale on our platform.

SMK: What type of brands can benefit from AR?

CB: Any brand looking to leverage technology for their increasingly technology-savvy, digital-oriented and connected user will find AR beneficial.

This includes brands that are looking to develop a robust mobile-first marketing strategy, or engaging younger consumers, or even those looking to deepen engagement with their existing brand campaigns

SMK: How is Australia placed globally, when it comes to AR adoption?

CB: Australian consumers have been exposed to augmented reality in many forms.

Our recent campaign with Sunny Queen Farms in Australia resulted in a high degree of consumer interaction and engagement, indicating that there is definitely a strong interest both from consumers and businesses in this technology.

In addition, some AR solution agencies and startups have been getting increasing media attention for their work. The recent success of Pokemon Go has  served to make AR more mainstream among Australian users.

We are currently in conversation with some notable brands in Australia, and very soon, you will be able to blipp your favourite brands and discover loads of entertaining content.

Chris Bell is appearing at Convergence on September 15 at The Refectory, Sydney University.
For more information and to book tickets visit convergence.events.

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