Augmented Reality Glasses Are Re-imagining Brand Engagement

Whether it's a furniture retailer using AR to help customers visualize how a new sofa might look in their living room before making a purchase, or a car dealership providing customers with in-depth vehicle design experience prior to purchase, virtual experiences are already a part of the brand engagement ecosystem. 

BMW, for instance, already offers immersive product demos using AR, allowing customers to explore various car models from the comfort of their location. Eyewear brand Warby Parker allows customers to virtually try on glasses, and L'Oréal uses AR to enable customers to virtually test makeup products. These immersive touches make the online shopping process far more engaging and rewarding for customers, increasing the user’s brand loyalty and the amount of time they spend on the brand’s website. 

Although modern smartphones are capable of handling AR programs, the experience of relying on one’s phone for AR is a strikingly limited experience. Not only is the user’s view of the AR experience limited to their phone screen, the user’s phone is no longer accessible to them to use independently. These inconveniences serve as barriers to widespread adoption as they prevent users from integrating AR experiences into their daily routines. AR glasses aim to allow users to experience an immersive augmented reality by producing a graphical overlay for the user’s entire field of view - independent of their phone screen. This means that user’s utilizing AR glasses will be able to use their phone and generally behave as usual, all while reaping the benefits of a deeply immersive virtual reality. 

In a world where customers can engage with products and services intimately from the comfort of their own homes and couches without facing significant inconveniences, brands will be able to elevate their sales and marketing strategies in ways that were previously out of reach. AR glasses are poised to turn that possibility into a reality.

The concept of AR glasses isn’t new, but recent advancements are redefining what's possible. The most historically notable attempt at AR glasses is the Google Glass project. Limited by its battery and processing capabilities, as well as a dearth of AR software on the market at the time, the Google Glass project was ultimately scrapped. However, the failure of Google Glass was far from a harbinger of doom to the burgeoning industry. Instead, AR and VR technologies have been experiencing a renaissance in recent years, pushed forward by major advancements in mobile processing and wireless communications technologies. These advancements are dramatically expanding what a pair of consumer grade AR glasses could reasonably be expected to do for their users, growing far beyond what Google Glass was ever able to handle. As their usefulness grows rapidly, so too will their adoption amongst the general public. As AR glasses become increasingly commonplace, brands will be able to craft marketing campaigns centered around this intriguing new segment of consumer electronics.

Today, a new wave of AR glasses are beginning to emerge. The successor to the original Google Glass - the Google Glass 2 - is an enterprise edition kit available to developers and organizations. Microsoft HoloLens 2 is a similar enterprise-focused AR headset that has even been used in military applications. However, while these big-name, expensive devices meant for professional settings are indicators of just how high-quality a set of AR glasses can get in 2023, there are a slew of companies beginning to develop smaller, more accessible AR glasses for true daily use. Examples of these are the Vuzix Blade and Nreal Light AR glasses. These glasses look on the outside like normal sunglasses, but hide within them small, high-resolution screens that can display notifications, directions, texts, transcripts/translations, 3D objects, and myriad other visual assets. By making AR not only more immersive but more accessible, these companies are opening the door to widespread adoption.

The future of AR glasses in sales and marketing holds even more exciting prospects. Imagine donning AR-powered glasses to access instant customer support or receive guided assistance, whether troubleshooting a product issue or navigating to a store. The benefits of incorporating AR glasses into sales and marketing are manifold. These include increased sales through immersive product experiences, enhanced customer satisfaction via personalized interactions, cost savings from reduced physical showrooms, more effective marketing campaigns, and data-driven insights to refine strategies.

AR-powered analytics is yet another facet of the future. Businesses can gather comprehensive data on customer behavior and preferences through AR glasses. For example, retailers can track how customers navigate their stores, what products catch their eye, and for how long they engage with each item. This data can then inform decisions on store layout and product placement, optimizing the shopping experience.

Still, some challenges accompany this technological growth. The initial cost of AR glasses is still significant, and they remain a luxury good for consumers - unlike smartphones which have quickly become a basic resource despite their high prices, and user adoption may be a hurdle for some customers with limited technological backgrounds. Furthermore, concerns around privacy often arise whenever customer’s are contending with new, more intimate forms of interactive media such as AR. The modern public’s vigilance regarding privacy will require businesses to take care in safeguarding customer information, and in demonstrating to customers that they take their privacy seriously. Finally, creating and maintaining high-quality AR content demands a large amount of upfront investment given the expertise and tools required to craft quality AR experiences. Although these issues are significant, they are similar to the issues faced by any nascent technology - and can and will be soon addressed by continued technological refinement. 

Looking ahead, AR glasses are poised to jumpstart the widespread adoption of AR amongst the common public. It is likely that, in the near future, people will regard their AR glasses as highly as they regard their smartphones, and interact with AR experiences small and large in every part of their daily lives - from online shopping to walks in the park - through the medium of their glasses. With AR and VR becoming an integral part of brands’ branding and marketing strategies, it's worthwhile to keep an eye on the current state of AR glasses, and what's coming on the horizon.