Night at the Bookstore

AR reveals magic hidden in retail spaces

Augmented Reality is by no means the newest (technology) kid on the block. Though it seems that we’re only now tapping into its true potential — to enable us to connect in a more immersive way with the world, brands and with each other.

New Augmented Reality (AR) businesses are popping up everyday. Blippar for example, has more than 65 million users worldwide with over 1000 brands — including Coca Cola, Nike, Universal and Jaguar — getting in on the act. Super secret startup, Magic Leap has just partnered with Lucasfilm to develop Star Wars related content for their much debated (and still mostly undisclosed) technology.

AR allows digital information — videos, photos or games — to be displayed on top of real world items when viewed through the lens of a smartphone, tablet or wearable device. Its potential is huge, with Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella stating earlier this year that “AR has much more potential than VR”.

With AR finding use cases across a variety of industries, we got together at a recent design lab to explore industries, sectors or even businesses where AR could make an impact. We asked: Where can AR make an improvement to the customer’s experience by an order of magnitude? Rather than disrupt a specific, can AR be used to enhance a retail brand or product by applying a digital layer? … a window that leads to a deeper relation with brand or content?

The question led us to books.

No industry has been challenged and disrupted by technology more than publishing. With the introduction of digital books and readers, the decimation of physical book sales was inevitable, but surprisingly not within the age-group one might expect. Between 2010 & 2016, there has been a notable decline in the amount of children reading for pleasure… a drop of nearly 10%. Bookstore AR solves this problem. By enabling kids experience of books to be greatly enhanced at the point of purchase, we imagine a future where bookstores become magical worlds filled with talking books that invite children to engage with content, characters and stories.

Imagine ‘The Gruffalo’ inviting customers to join him as he follows the mouse through your local book store, imagine ‘Harry Potter’ showing off his Quidditch skills on the cover of ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’ or ‘The BFG’ reading the first chapter of Roald Dahl’s classic.

Augmented Reality could transform the way we experience books within the retail environment. The advent of next-generation mobile devices anticipates adoption of AR as a mainstream technology making opportunities like Bookstore AR very much a reality. We believe its potential to engage or reconnect kids with stories is enormous — adding value both in cultural and commercial terms. Bookstore AR is about enhancing our experience of bookstores and our relationship with books.