Back in October 2017 I was invited to speak at UK Construction Week at the NEC and gave an interactive demonstration of how to use Augmented Reality (AR) in architecture and interior design.

AR lays digital information over your view of the real world, offering countless potential consumer and commercial applications.

I was keen to stress that any business from any industry can benefit from using AR.

I was able to demonstrate some of our recent AR work including working in partnership with architects to promote new construction projects.

You download an app, in this case the Feilden+Mawson AR app, and then point your device at the printed image below to augment a computer generated building.

F+W found using AR a great way to generate interest in both them and the project.

Only a couple of weeks before I spoke and demonstrated AR back in October, Apple introduced its iOS 11 update which included the new and exciting framework called ARkit. AR works brilliantly with printed images, but with ARKit you can now show computer generated objects on any surface without the need for a printed image. With ARKit you can incorporate 3D data and objects into the physical environment of the user. Moreover, objects can be interactive, offering a richer experience of the real world. This new technology is a game changer for AR.

A perfect example of a company using this new ARkit is Ikea. Their new Ikea Place app lets users experience, experiment and share how their different products will look within a space such as a home, office or school.

ARKit opens a lot of possibilities for developers like us to create innovative apps. But currently this technology only works on Apple’s newer devices (iPhone 6s and newer). The new iPhones’ cameras offer a perception of nine levels of depth and combined with powerful processors, make it possible to create rich and immersive worlds.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook is a big fan of AR. He said, “Put simply we believe AR is going to change the way we use technology forever.”

Here at EI we are starting to get our heads around this new technology. Our early development work allows a visitor to a London showroom to visit a school in Worcester. We create a virtual portal door and allow the user to walk through it into another room.

Just imagine the possibilities with this technology. Your customers can walk around your showroom or your exhibition stand without you actually having to build them (or pay for them).

AR technology allows a visitor to a real showroom or exhibition stand or other to see construction products on the floor in front of them. Many products are big and heavy and create numerous problems when trying to take them to meetings or events. With ARkit you can take all your products with you, not just one! All you need is a phone.

We always encourage our customers to allow people to interact with their products. We are now interacting with our surroundings too. With this technology you can look down and select a number of materials and surfaces and see them on the floor in front of you. As you can imagine it was of big interest to the architects and interior designers in the audience of my talk.

The advantage for business of using AR is that the hardware and software exist right now in the form of our smartphones. A device we all have and rarely put down.

It allows you to try before you buy. Therefore lowering the risk of a return.

So, what would your business get with AR? An amazing product showcase. Better customer interaction, remote access to products, 3D models in real surroundings, real size representation, increased sales and new customers to name just a few.

Despite what you may have seen or read, any AR headset (a pair of glasses to replace your phone) is a few years away. Online content from CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2018 tells us that we are a few years away from this. Hugo Barra, who runs Virtual Reality products for Facebook/Oculus, says “we’re far away from an Oculus AR headset.”

It is my belief that companies who aren’t ready to adopt or refuse to adopt these types of technologies will simply not survive. A prime example is Blackberry amongst many others. When you use innovative technology it reflects that you are an innovative company.

If you are interested in us delivering an interactive demonstration of Augmented Reality at your event, or you would like to see how Augmented Reality can help your business, then get in touch by emailing us at hello@exhibitinteractive.co.uk or calling us on 01386 833105.

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