03 Dec Setting a good example – These global corporations already benefit from the advantages of Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality (AR) has long been on everyone’s lips. No wonder, since it is one of the most promising technologies currently available. Some large and well-known companies have already recognized its potential. They already use AR successfully and surprise their customers with brand experiences that are fun.
It is the very big names that are attracting positive attention here: Mercedes, Audi, ThyssenKrupp or Wacker Chemie were convinced of the possibilities of the AR at an early stage and have now launched groundbreaking solutions for initial applications – three of the companies mentioned with the support of VISCOPIC.
The example of IKEA
Blue-yellow, practical and with a good feel for customer wishes – that’s Ikea. The children play in Småland, while the parents buy efficiently packed, timeless furniture, eat a cheap hot dog and enjoy the extras of their family card. That’s how it used to be, and it’s likely to remain that way for some time to come, but in IKEA’s future laboratory “Space10” in Copenhagen, the company is constantly working on modernising our way of life. It’s not just about furniture. In the basement of the laboratory, tomatoes and leafy vegetables are grown without soil and delivered to a nearby restaurant. On the upper floor, bioengineers, chefs, designers and architects ponder how our cities will change and how IKEA as a company fits into this world. So it’s no surprise that IKEA released its first AR app already in 2013.
Long before AR became known to a wider audience through Pokémon Go and other applications, IKEA experimented with the new technology and tested how it could benefit the furniture company. The beginnings were comparatively complicated, but the basic idea has survived to this day.
The app that was published in 2013 allowed the user to scan certain items in the IKEA catalogue marked with a label and see how they looked in the real world. After scanning, the catalogue was placed in the position where the article – e.g. a piece of furniture – was to be displayed. On the screen of the terminal device, the scanned piece of furniture could be seen in its real environment. The catalogue served as a reference so that the product from the catalogue could be realistically displayed. The app did not miss its mark. Both the app itself and the catalogue made headlines and generated a wide reach.
The current app “IKEA Place” was developed in the future lab “Space10” and is considered one of the first applications to highlight the advantages of ARKit, Apple’s Augmented Reality Framework. This means that it uses the motion sensors and cameras of smartphones to blend digital elements into the real world. Unlike the 2013 app, which included a few hundred items, “IKEA Place” now accesses an enormous database of 3D models, so almost every item the company sells can be retrieved. IKEA is more skilled than any other at creating and displaying 3D models. As a result, a large part of the current IKEA catalogue is compiled not from photos, but from photorealistic product models.
IKEA is working with Apple to develop the app. “IKEA Place” was first launched in 2017 for users of Apple devices before being made available to Android users in 2018. In contrast to virtual reality applications, AR does not create a new environment. Instead, virtual components are transferred into the real world and are realistically placed. With the app, approx. 2000 virtual pieces of furniture can be projected into one’s own living room. They are displayed in 3D and are scaled with an accuracy of 98% to view on a terminal device. With the help of an optical search function, the App IKEA recognizes furniture and suggests similar pieces of furniture to expand the inventory. The AR animation generated by the app can be saved as a photo or video and sent to family and friends via social networks such as WhatsApp or Instagram. Apple CEO Tim Cook described the app as “the future of shopping” when it was released.
The example of Lego
The classic is a rectangular stone in rich colors and with six humps. If you’ve had enough of them, all you need is a little imagination and a knight’s castle, a pirate ship or a pyramid is created. Lego has been increasing the creativity, motor skills and spatial imagination of children and adults for generations – with a concept as simple as it is convincing. The toy has undergone massive further development. Numerous different parts, complex kits, additional technology – Lego is compatible with every trend. Soon also with AR! In the near future, the company wants to bring a new AR experience to the App Store. “LEGO AR Studio” offers six virtual Lego sets that can be brought to life on a table or in the living room. In contrast to earlier AR versions of Lego, this time the app seems to be mature and has the potential to revolutionize the way the colored bricks are played.
The app is free and does not include in-app purchases. The idea came from Lego’s Creative Play Lab and was developed as a creative tool that would not only allow children to play with digital versions of the popular construction kit. “Lego AR Studio” is an imaginative game at the interface of physical interaction and digital engagement. The app is not to be understood as a static, virtual copy of the real Lego game. The sets are dynamically populated by talking Lego characters. There are also scripted events that provide access to additional digital content, and the app can be used to remotely control Lego models. This means interaction with physical building blocks and virtual content. A combination of interactive worlds and characters is also planned. These combine in a variety of ways to form a “gold stone hunt”, as was previously the case in Lego video games – but now the adventure is taking place in the real world. Of course, interactions can be recorded and video clips stored directly on smartphones.
The app shows that AR is better for community games and family environments compared to virtual reality, especially in terms of accessibility. The question already arises as to the popularity of this application. It is clear that it has enormous upscaling potential. The question for Lego is whether such applications increase or decrease the desire to buy physical building blocks.
The example of Mercedes
Thanks to artificial intelligence, the revolutionary infotainment system MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) is an adaptive multimedia offering that adapts to the user. At the presentation of the new A-Class in Amsterdam, it became clear that the company – in conjunction with the hard disk navigation and the central display – would also offer an optional MBUX Augmented Reality function. In the navigation display, a video image of the surroundings recorded with the help of the front camera is enhanced with driving instructions and helpful additional information. These can be, for example, information arrows or house numbers, which are automatically displayed as an image on the touch screen of the media display. The system is independent of the engine and represents one of the highlights of the new series.
The examples of Bosch and DHL
The applications do not always serve to generate immersive and emotional customer experiences. Some companies use the technology to optimize processes, increase productivity, improve services, or provide training.
Bosch uses AR for service, marketing, training and the production of complex products. For example, technicians can use augmented reality to see where cables are located in machines and display this information for repairs, maintenance, or learning purposes.
DHL has reviewed and positively evaluated the benefits of AR in logistics. Meanwhile, logistics employees wear data goggles that show them where goods and merchandise are in a warehouse. According to the company, AR has increased picking efficiency by 25%.
Similar to Bosch or DHL, you can also use AR for your own purposes. With VISCOPIC Pins and VISCOPIC Steps, we have launched two software solutions with which you can create your own AR applications without programming knowledge. The programs offer considerable added value in the areas of training, maintenance, repair, installation and quality assurance.
Is your interest in AR solutions aroused? We would be pleased to present our products and services to you. Contact us or subscribe to our newsletter to be regularly informed by VISCOPIC about new application examples and advances in AR technology.