When augmented reality (AR) first came into public consciousness, the flashy new technology was mostly lauded for its novelty factor. Pokémon Go and SnapChat’s AR lenses, for example, employed AR as a vehicle for entertainment and quick laughs.

As the novelty factor wore out, businesses began to find more substantial use cases for augmented reality. In healthcare, for instance, AR has been successfully implemented in surgical and training settings. In engineering, AR is used in the field to help visualize how complex machinery is assembled or maintained. Google has incorporated AR into Google Maps to supplement its navigation experience.

Innovative companies across nearly every business sector have embraced AR as a way to merge virtual objects with the real world, allowing users to experience and comprehend complex ideas like never before.


Enter the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on society this year, single-handedly decimating some of our favorite pastimes and behaviors — and elevating new ones to take their place.

Eating indoors at restaurants – gone. Mingling face-to-face at bars and concerts – gone. Shopping at a “brick-and-mortar” store for shopping sake – not quite gone, but much, much harder to do.

Other options have emerged and grown to mainstream prominence: teleconferencing, streaming video on demand, and ecommerce, to name a few.

Living life “remotely” has required the public to adapt how it practices consumerism. Consequently, businesses are facing challenges when it comes to engaging buyers from afar.


Why AR is Important to Consumers Today

With consumers now reluctant to strap on a mask, wait in lines, or expose themselves to potential infection, many businesses are struggling to provide the tactile and immersive experiences many consumers require when making a purchasing decision.

When consumers are considering a purchase, standard product photos, a list of features, and even a product video might not be compelling enough for a buyer to pull the trigger, so to speak.

This is perhaps one reason why Apple now offers — front-and-center — AR-based demos of its latest iPhone, Apple Watch, and other consumer devices.

If you’re not willing to haul it to the nearest Apple Store, wait in a line to get your temperature checked, and then “play chicken” (AKA social distancing) with other shoppers once you’re actually in the store, you can simply open the product page on your iPhone using Safari browser to experience the latest and greatest Apple goods in glorious AR.

Fashion and furniture are two other product categories that stand to benefit from offering AR-based product experiences. Retailers like IKEA, Amazon, Michael Kors, and Gucci are all using AR to provide shoppers the ability to try before they buy, virtually.

IKEA Place

The IKEA Place app allows users to “virtually place true-to-scale 3D models in your very own space.” The iOS version of the app sports a 4.7 rating (out of 5) with more than 5,500 ratings.

While the aforementioned AR examples are relatively simple (mostly inanimate 3D objects layered onto the real world), other enterprise companies like Zoetis (NYSE: ZTS), a global healthcare leader, are ratcheting up the realism with their own AR-based product experiences.

In Zoetis’ case, their product marketing team asked CitrusBits to create interactive, animated AR experiences to showcase highly sophisticated lab equipment to doctors and vets. (Read the full case study here).


How to Start Building Game-changing AR Experiences

Many businesses are beginning to understand how offering their customers AR-enabled product experiences can be transformative for sales and marketing.

Yet, creating magically immersive AR experiences is usually not in the wheelhouse of the typical product marketer or sales/marketing executive, and this can present a challenge to bringing these AR experiences to fruition.

CitrusBits has a top-rated AR/VR division that partners with businesses to provide the end-to-end creation of lifelike and immersive AR applications.

“As an early pioneer in AR/VR, our team has worked on everything from VR games to AR medical demos, AR facility tours, AR beverage labels, AR social media apps, and more,” explains Harry Lee, CEO of CitrusBits. “We’ve worked with businesses ranging from venture-backed startups to Fortune 500s like DuPont, to translate their creative vision into cutting-edge AR experiences. Importantly, we take care of our clients’ AR needs from soup to nuts – from 3D modeling to UI/UX design and all frontend/backend development. Our clients love that we make augmented reality easy and approachable for them.”