THREE LESSONS MY COMPANY LEARNED DEVELOPING AR SOLUTIONS
The staggering success of Pokemon Go has confirmed that augmented reality (AR) technology is emerging as a long-awaited bridge to close the gap between humans and machines. Industries and enterprises are adopting AR solutions to strengthen their competitive advantage and get customers engaged in business activities. As an organization that has faced AR development challenges every day, we at Program-Ace have learned three essential lessons that could be handy for those seeking to create powerful and engaging augmented reality experiences.
1. AR helps tell a product’s story, so make it important for users.
Augmented reality technology enables storytelling. It makes us see everyday objects in a different light by making visible what has been invisible, enabling us to visualize 2D images, and bringing life to inanimate objects. In other words, it has the capacity to humanize the technology. This, in turn, dramatically increases the value and recognition of the product (or any other object of your choice). A good story not only positively influences the presence but also allows users to be closer to the product and engaged in the tech community.
To deliver valuable applications for the business world, Program-Ace conducts extensive marketing research that studies existing products, possible competitors, and consumer behavior in both B2B and B2C markets to discover weaknesses and consider the most profitable potential opportunities. In our development adventures, the Program-Ace team has drawn one important conclusion: AR development is not just about the smooth integration of CG content with the physical environment; it is about allowing consumers to be connected to the virtual realm. Moreover, the app ideation process (the phase in which you create the concept, define the technological feasibility, and understand the time constraints) can also be supported with product usage data and information regarding solutions already available in the market along with their strengths and weaknesses.
2. Gamification can be a successful way to drive user acceptance and productivity.
Augmented reality technology has had a significant influence on the development of various wearables, headsets, and head-mounted devices. And, of course, gamers are among the early adopters of these advanced accessories. For that reason, many people hold the opinion that it is necessary to develop games in order to be noticeable in the market. While that might be true for some industries, such as education and defense, when it comes to retail, government, or banking, you need a serious approach to the business. Still, gamification can be an effective approach for you.
Even though it originated in the gaming world, gamification has proved to be an extremely effective tool for user acquisition, virality, and customer conversion. At Program-Ace, we have long realized that companies should focus on what the gaming experience can bring to the AR application, instead of creating games. When you deliver proofs of concept to your clients using basic and advanced gamification features, such as multi-layered storytelling, competition, rewards, lifelike avatars, etc., you can drive user engagement and increase productivity.
3. Platform-specific apps are an endangered species.
Contrary to the conventional wisdom that, in the near future, one winning platform will become an AR market monopolist, we do not see any indication of this yet. Instead, the market is full of various products designed for different user needs and demands, and it is highly unlikely that in the next five years, the diversity of platforms will disappear. Accordingly, our experience has taught us to build platform-agnostic applications choosing a cross-platform approach that has worked well for our customers for more than 20 years now, helping them to pursue market supremacy while being platform independent and relevant to user requirements.
Multi-platform (or cross-platform) AR development, especially creating one application that can be deployed to any platform, is preliminarily customized to respect the features of a particular platform or device. However, in some cases, these approaches are ineffective, especially when the target audience is used to native apps. In this situation, our team eventually creates experiences aimed at a specific type of device. For instance, one of our mini games, Archy the Rabbit, was initially designed cross-platform for iOS and Android. With the introduction of HoloLens, we have ported it to this platform by changing the game UI, adding new features, and programming the app to recognize gestures, voices, and gazes. A combination of the Unity game engine and HoloToolKit helped our team to develop important app functionality such as spatial sound, voice recognition, and spatial mapping with minimal effort and improved human-computer interaction (HCI).
Shaping the future
As the next phase of computing, augmented reality offers an opportunity to shape the future of HCI and technology itself. In order to be creative and deliver compelling AR experiences, we have begun to focus on the principles above. These lessons have enabled us to design applications that maximize the value of the technology. By remembering these AR development lessons, you can crystallize your thinking and focus your efforts on developing successful and engaging AR applications.
This article was initially published at the AREA (Augmented Reality for Enterprise Alliance) blog.