While digital advertising has enabled a whole new scale of consumer messaging, creative storytelling has unfortunately taken a backseat. But there’s an exciting counter-revolution underway, powered by technologies like real-time 3D, AR and VR. Here are a few predictions for where that might take us in the coming years.

[Adapted from my recent Cannes Lions Live “future gazer” presentation.]

Digital is all about the data. But where’s the story?

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If you think about it, the last decade of advertising has been all about data. Advertisers got serious about digital, optimizing for the ability to finely target and deliver seemingly personalized messages to mass audiences. This obsession with scale and performance delivered results, but it left creativity by the wayside. Messages have tended toward the short, soundbite-y and vacuous. …


Watch the Inaugural Episode of our Virtual Event Series Now

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Dear NFR readers,

NFR Live, our virtual event series focused on the Near Future of Retail, is now underway. The inaugural episode is an encore presentation of our talk, Immersive Retail in the New Era, originally given during PSFK World Retail Innovation Week 2020. In this version, we got to stretch out in a longer format, and answer many more audience questions. Give it a watch below!

Upcoming episodes will focus on other aspects of retail in the new era, with a special lens on the accelerated changes and emerging opportunities related to COVID-19. We’ll also feature guest speakers at the forefront of retail innovation. We hope to see you virtually soon.

— Neil and Tony


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Here’s a quick list of my upcoming virtual events for May… so much retail! All heavy hitter talks; all different takes on a broad topic.

All times PDT

May 14th, 11AM-12PM. Digital Hollywood. XR and Immersive Retail, Advertising and Branding Strategies. Our gang from last year’s DH is back to dive deep into marketing products with XR.

May 15th, 11AM-12PM. Encore presentation of our Shape the Future panel, How AR Will Transform Retail in the Next Decade. …


From upper funnel to purchase, brands are increasingly turning to Augmented Reality to market their products and services online

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YouTube’s AR Beauty Try-On delivers product try-on capability in an ad

Since the release of Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore in the summer of 2017, mobile AR has made a slow and steady push into the mainstream. The introduction of the technology into the core of mobile operating systems opened up a wave of energetic experimentation across industries over the past two years, and it’s starting to find purchase in a few key sectors.

Unsurprisingly, gaming has become one of the leading categories to latch onto AR. 2019 saw a resurgence of Pokemon GO usage and the introduction of other top game titles. But somewhat quietly, brand-supported AR — in the form of sponsored content and novel advertising units — delivered consumer value and significant revenue last year, and it is projected to be the fast-growing category in the mobile AR landscape. Expect this trend to continue, and have broad implications for brands trying to reach audiences with novel and engaging ways to show off their products. …


Real-time 3D could alleviate the real pain that comes with creating and delivering e-commerce content. Here’s a look at what some of the innovators in this space are up to.

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Image courtesy of Hayneedle Photo Studio

Cynthia Maller has a problem. Several, actually. The director of creative innovation at Hayneedle, a division of Walmart, recently sat down with me to talk about how the company creates the original digital photography content for their customers.

“Hayneedle owns and operates its own photo studio, and we touch every facet of imaging, from conception to post-production — which is an advantage on many levels,” Cynthia began. “But, the lengthy time it takes to ship physical samples to our studio compresses the upfront time that we have to create engaging stories for our customers. …


Lessons learned on the way to creating the next global advertising format

[Adapted from my recent talk at Augmented World Expo 2019. https://www.awexr.com/usa-2019/agenda/470-deploying-brand-ar-at-scale-dispatches-from-the-fr]

Summer, 2017: the ink wasn’t dry on Apple’s ARKit announcement, and people were already thinking about how to use AR to advertise at mass scale. …


The near future of retail will feature interactive real-time 3D models of products in search results, digital ads, mobile apps and AR/VR — changing how products are discovered, explored and purchased online.

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IKEA Place: view furniture virtually and try it in your home with AR

In late April, the Khronos Group, an open industry consortium for 3D graphics technologies, issued a press release announcing the formation of an exploratory committee to create standards and guidelines for representing retail products in 3D. The announcement was accompanied by little fanfare, but it marked the beginning of a big change in how products will be sold online.

The Khronos 3D Commerce initiative is being driven by major players in technology, retail and manufacturing, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Adobe, Autodesk, Unity, Deloitte, Houzz, IKEA, Lowe’s, Target, Walmart, Wayfair and Samsung. The goal is to leverage the amazing capabilities of 3D, VR and AR to enable a global infrastructure for consumers to better discover, engage with and ultimately purchase products, and suppliers and retailers to scale up production of 3D content, making it as commonplace someday as text and images. …


The transition of the computer interface from 2D to 3D is upon us. Here are some thoughts on what’s driving this change now.

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The BMW 8 Series Coupe: one is real; one is rendered real-time in the Unity engine. Which is which?

Real-time 3D has emerged as the next interactive media type. Forged in gaming, it’s now being used in nearly every industry. Soon, 3D graphics will be as pervasive as images, videos and web pages. Why is this happening? And why now?

Decades in the Making

3D graphics is nearly as old as the computer itself, tracing its roots back to the 1960s. It’s been used in applications spanning engineering, architecture, sales and marketing, defense, gaming and animation. …


The biggest tech companies are leaning in, and the playing field is shifting.

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Into the Spider-Verse: Amazon Sumerian and 8th Wall Bring WebAR Magic Without an AR Browser

It’s that time of year again. We’re almost through an XR-laden conference season that peaks at Augmented World Expo later this month. Unlike past years, which were anchored by the SVVR and VRLA shows, the action has shifted onto much bigger stages. From the first-ever Snap Partner Summit, to Facebook F8, Microsoft Build and Google IO, immersive experiences were on display in a big way, many of them based on web technology.

Last year I posted about how Facebook was leading the charge on the Immersive Web. They are still driving hard. But in the time since then, we’ve seen big moves by Snap, continued emphasis on the importance of web browsing in XR from Microsoft, and major innovations from Google. All this, and Apple’s WWDC is still a month out; we have no idea what they will unveil. …


My afterword to the new O’Reilly Media book Creating Augmented and Virtual Realities, on sale April 14, 2019.

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Image via Lifewire

VR. AR. MR. XR. AI. CV. ML. AR Cloud… the list goes on.

This isn’t just a grab-bag of trendy tech buzzwords; it comprises the foundation of a spatial computing future that is right around the corner.

We are moving to a new paradigm for accessing information, consuming entertainment, learning, doing our jobs, and communicating with each other. It’s a shift from 2D graphical representations viewed on flat screens — pinhole cameras into today’s incomprehensibly vast digital world — to immersive 3D visualizations of objects and spaces laid out all around us. This will not only imbue us with brand new superpowers that allow us to transcend space and time; it will, generally, make these computer thingies that are inextricably enmeshed in our daily lives so much easier to use. We live in a 3D world: people move, think and experience in three dimensions. Isn’t it time our computer interfaces got out of the way and let us do the same with digital information? …

About

Tony Parisi

VR OG. Entrepreneur. Investor. Co-Creator, VRML & glTF. Head of XR Ad Innovation, Unity Technologies. Pre-apocalyptic author. Music. @auradeluxe

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