Last week, The New York Times announced that it is bringing augmented reality to its readers—or more specifically, its smartphone app users. This marks a big step in the world of AR as an everyday news tool, but if the technology seems familiar, it's because of the big AR furniture-retailer boom of 2017.
What is AR, exactly? According to The Times, "It is a new pathway that can lead away from the abstract depiction of objects and toward a more visceral sense of real-life scale and physicality." Simply put, it's a new-ish technology that allows users to experience what would normally be a flat photo as a 3D image. The Times uses the example of an honor box and how an AR user would be able to explore the box looking over and all around it as if it were in their living room.
The Times said they'll be starting AR with an article about the Winter Olympics this week, so if you'd like to experience the triple axel of a figure skater as if it's happening right in your living room, now there's an app for that.
If this seems to you like a technology that would be particularly useful in helping people pick out furniture, you wouldn't be alone in that thought. Last year IKEA, Chairish, Wayfair, and a whole bunch of other brands all either introduced or made serious upgrades to their AR offerings. The benefit for online shoppers is clear — you get a sense of what your purchase will look like in your home before pulling the trigger. The gamification of shopping has benefits for retailers as well, with users spending more time on their sites and even sharing screenshots from the tool.
Have you used AR apps? And if so are you a believer? Do you think you'll give them a try? Let us know!