Unlocking New Worlds in Business with Web AR

WebAR, or web-based augmented reality offers users a chance to experience AR without the limitations of app installations or on-board processing power. In this blog post, we'll take a deep dive into the world of WebAR, exploring its current state, the path of future adoption, and the opportunities and challenges businesses will face when attempting to onboard this cutting-edge technology themselves. 

Although augmented reality (AR) has captured our imaginations for years, its widespread adoption has been hampered by developers’ limited ability to create genuinely useful mobile AR tools accessible to an audience on the go. This limitation has largely been caused by the relatively small amount of processing power available on-board mobile devices compared to the modern desktop PCs traditionally used for such applications. 

The adoption of Apple Silicon and ARM architecture does open the door to more demanding mobile applications, but such leaps in mobile processing will likely remain the territory of only the highest-tier ‘flagship’ devices such as the iPhone 15 Pro for the time being. Given the limited market size for on-board AR processing then, true widespread adoption of mobile AR will need a lift from something other than on-board processors to become viable within the short term. 

This is where WebAR comes into play. Leveraging major improvements in cloud and communications technologies, WebAR is a system for implementing AR wherein the AR application is run on the cloud, but allows for the AR experience to be ‘beamed’ to a user’s mobile device, thereby eliminating the need for high-end processing power on board teh device. 

Web AR represents a shift in how brands are approaching the AR space, as it suddenly allows most or all of a brand’s audience to utilize AR where only a select few could have before. Similar to how the adoption of smartphones resulted in a rapid increase in social media activity, the adoption of WebAR could very well mark the beginning of the era of spatial computing. So how can your business take advantage of it?

New use cases for WebAR are being developed every day, but the best way for your brand or business to begin adoption is by implementing it in a few tried-and-true forms before delving into further experimentation. Below are a few use cases and best practices for implementing WebAR early on:

  • Tailored Experiences: Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of a brand’s unique identity, and often identify that identity as the most important aspect of their purchasing decisions. Communicating that identity is made even more important when you’re providing an immersive experience to your users, such as in AR (if you’re going to immerse them in something, you better make it good). Therefore, creating experiences and generating assets unique to your brand and identity for use in your AR applications could serve to dramatically improve your standing with your audience (especially if community and experience are core tenets of your brand). Tailoring your experiences will also prevent you from generating disappointment amongst the many users who come to AR looking for truly unique experiences.

  • Marketing & Audience Growth: Curiosity is a powerful force, and few technologies on the market today inspire as much curiosity as Augmented Reality, which has been further accelerated by modern audiences’ burgeoning demand for immersive experiences. Businesses clever enough to leverage AR can craft truly interactive marketing campaigns that stand far apart from the background noise by actually offering users something they already want as a part of you marketing campaigns. pay money for. 

  • Product & Service Intimacy: Giving users an opportunity to see and, if possible, to touch, feel, and use your products dramatically increases conversion rates. From packaging to influencer marketing to retail experiences, smart businesses know the value of creating a more intimate relationship between product and user. In the age of online retail, the distance between product and user has never been greater - and major companies are investing in AR to bring the personal touch back. AR technologies enable companies to place their products in the hands of users from thousands of miles away, creating a stronger bond, and ultimately boosting businesses’ ability to convert. 

  • Innovation & Product Development: AR and VR tools have actually been adopted far faster than you might expect - it's just all hidden from sight. For years, the highest end of AR and VR technologies have been the domain of professional organizations and institutions with the financial backing and niche requirements necessary to justify such investments. For example, Lockheed Martin has incorporated AR displays into its pilot assistance hardware/software for years, and even Apple’s new Vision Pro headset caters primarily to the enterprise market. This adoption amongst enterprise users is due in large part to the power of AR and VR to aid in product design and development work. 3D modeling, simulation work, and a slew of other visually-intensive tasks benefit greatly from AR technology. With WebAR, business are able to make AR technologies accessible to their employees at a far lower cost, due to the decreased reliance on on-board processors, thereby enabling a greater segment of businesses to adopt AR-based workflows internally.

  • Customer Service & Training: Virtual experiences, such as car tours, virtual appointments, etc. allow users to have a taste of the in-person experience while minimizing the time they have to invest into the interaction, and minimizing the need for businesses to maintain a robust in-person infrastructure. Improvements to the quality of engagement of services can benefit employees as well by reducing their workload for each customer they serve, and even by improving the experience of undergoing internal training and certifications. For example, many medical schools have begun to adopt AR/VR technologies to offer their students additional surgery/treatment practice time without the need for additional patients.

As with any burgeoning technology, Web AR will continue to have its drawbacks and limitations during the early days of adoption. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Device Compatibility: Not all devices are WebAR-ready, as some devices may be too old for even WebAR, or have operating systems not supported by the WebAR technologies you utilize. Although the percentage of users affected by these lingering issues will decrease over time, businesses must ensure their content aligns with their target audience's tech.

  • User Experience: Slow-loading content and battery drain can frustrate users greatly, even if the experience you are attempting to offer them is of high-value. Users are impatient, and a fussy user experience could suggest to them that your business is not committed to quality. While AR experiences can greatly improve a user’s perception of a brand or business, offering them a poor experience can have the opposite effect. Optimization of your implemented technologies is key to ensuring a smooth experience, and is a reason why we recommend hiring AR experts to build and implement your AR experiences.

In Conclusion, WebAR is a highly promising, nascent technology that creates a new world of opportunities for both businesses and consumers. The increased accessibility of AR enables it to become the revolution we expect it to be. While challenges exist, the potential for innovation and engagement are limitless. It's time for your businesses to embrace WebAR. 

Pave Creative Marketing Agency is partnered with industry-leaders developing the cutting edge of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality technologies. If you’d like to learn more about how your business can get a jump on utilizing future technologies to grow, reach out to schedule a free 1:1 with our team of experts.