Augmented reality might turn out to be one of the big winners of the coronavirus crisis: People need more fun in their lives, and brands need new ways to attract customers. And since most AR experiences require only a smartphone, they are cheaper and more accessible than VR. From animated tattoos to interactive models of office spaces, here are 10 innovative studios bringing AR into our everyday lives.
Aircards creates fun and engaging marketing merchandise – in particular, business cards, as the name suggests. When you scan the QR code on a business card, it comes alive. For instance, you might see the card's owner talking to you, suggesting that you follow him or her on social media.
The company also makes AR marketing fliers, banners, billboards, and packaging.
ARzilla keeps finding new ways for customers to interact with products, especially through WebAR and social AR. When clients explore AR experiences integrated into a brand's website, they start to associate the feeling of excitement and fun with the brand.
All of ARzilla's experiences are web-based: You can access them from any smartphone without downloading an app.
ARzilla also designs viral filters and masks that boost brand awareness, flyers, banners, packaging, etc. The team works with various platforms (Zappar, 8th Wall, Spark AR), as well as creates custom-coded experiences.
Arfected creates shareable content that increases brand awareness and engagement. In addition to web-based experiences and apps, it works on AR content for social media with playtimes of over one minute.
Among the agency's most popular products is the Snapchat Lens “A bedroom in Arles,” which allows you to “enter” Van Gogh's famous painting.
Another one was a campaign for Singha Beer aimed at Chelsea soccer fans, where users were asked to cheer while the AR Facebook filter painted their faces white and blue – the Chelsea colors.
Areyes creates innovative and trendy Instagram filters, many of which imitate real-world textures. Some look like latex skin, glass, chainmail, and more.
One of the studio's hits is Ultra Shine, a filter that creates a mask of shiny gemstones around your face:
Areyes also designs filters to promote specific events and brands, such as the Brave! Factory electronic music festival and Don't Take Fake, a festival of urban subculture.
FlyAR is based in Finland, and many of its AR projects have to do with manufacturing and engineering. For example, it created an augmented model of an office space and superimposed information about the engineering infrastructure over it. For another client, FlyAR designed a marketing flyer with an interactive 3D model of the company office.
One of its biggest projects was an AR experience explaining how cardboard packaging for liquids is made:
This mixed-reality studio is known for its AR filters for Snapchat and Instagram. You can give yourself yellow hair, make flowers grow out of your head, and even paint your face green:
Apart from filters, Foundry Six also makes AR and VR games and apps. For example, it has a card game where you can see little soldiers appear on your cards and fight each other. In another game, called Rider, you can watch a tiny snowboarder ride up and down any surface in your home. The company even designed a fitness app for AR glasses.
Unlike many other AR agencies, which specialize in games and filters, Avatar designs AR and VR experiences for construction, education, real estate, fashion, and other industries.
For example, its Live Educare app uses AR 3D models and audio to help children understand the human body and other classroom subjects. Its Life Auto app allows potential car buyers to explore the interior of a car and even book a test drive from right within the app.
FairWorlds positions itself as an immersive agency, creating complex AR and VR experiences for brands like Amazon and Dell, as well as for universities and NGOs.
For Dell, FairWorlds created a virtual tour of the company's gigantic modular data centers, which can't be shown live to potential customers due to their size and location.
Another project, this time for the Environmental Defence Fund, features a cute robot that leads viewers with AR glasses on a quest to find and fix methane leaks:
This Belgium-based agency approaches AR from various angles – both in games and entertainment and in “serious” applications for brands, health care, and engineering.
For example, Triangle Factory built an AR basketball game where you can shoot hoops anywhere on the street or even on your own office desk:
On the “serious” side, its app Jori allows customers to not only see how new furniture will look in their room but also customize the product: choose the color, cover material, and more.
ScullyLabs designs AR content for different platforms: HoloLens, Android, iOS, and ARKit. Its clients include Macy's Pandora and Nickelodeon.
For Nickelodeon, the agency designed special AR tattoos – stickers that kids could put on themselves. When scanned, the tattoos triggered cartoon videos, puzzles, and fun games.
Another interesting project was the AR catalog for Bed, Bath & Beyond, where readers could scan over 900 AR anchors in the text to watch videos and unlock promos.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the AR market was forecasted to grow at an amazing rate of 46% every year until 2024. The “new normal” of the virus will create additional openings for AR, with people looking for a way to interact with products from the safety of their home. In a couple of years, AR might become a natural part of our life – just like YouTube or Instagram. The 10 startups we've looked at are definitely helping us move in that direction.
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