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What is the difference between AR and VR and how they are transforming businesses?

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digital transformation

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are the most often used in the same breath and it can get confusing at times.. They are fascinating technologies that serve as platform for businesses to build immersive experiences. Both technologies are garnering immense interest in their possibilities for marketing, advertising, and enhancing customer experience. According to recent research by Deloitte, almost 90 percent of companies with annual revenues between 100 million dollars and 1 billion dollars are now leveraging augmented reality or virtual reality technology.

However, the most profound question still remains – What is the difference between AR and VR?

Virtual reality (VR) immerses people in experiences, often with the help of gadgets such as glasses and headsets. Augmented reality, on the other hand, usually starts with a real-life view of something (such as the camera of a mobile phone), and projects or inserts images onto the screen or viewer.

VR is a computer-generated simulation of an alternate world or reality, and is primarily used in 3D movies and in video games. AR makes no such pretense, it can be accessed using a mobile phone and it superimposes images.

The appeal is obvious. Both the technologies offer an innovative way to immerse customers in a more engaging, interactive, and personal experience. Businesses in the post Covid era are in dire need to create immersive experiences for customers as they cannot physically interact with the brand. Let’s look at the few businesses who have successfully utilized these revolutionizing technologies to transform customer interactions.

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Also Read: Augmented Reality in Retail-5 Things You Should Know
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IKEA has launched a new augmented reality application ‘IKEA Place’ to allow users to test their products in real-time through Apple iOS 11’s ARKit technology. The application is iPhone- and iPad-compatible, and it automatically scales products, based on room dimensions, with 98 percent accuracy.

Toms – a shoe company known for its social mission and philanthropy, created the ‘One for One’ program. Under the program, they donated a pair of shoes to a child in need for each pair of shoes their customers purchased. However, giving their customers the feel of the impact their purchase was making was a challenge. Hence, they created an immersive experience for their shoppers in stores using virtual reality. They made a film titled, “A Walk In Their Shoes,” chronicling the journey of a skateboarder who goes to Colombia to meet the child who receives the free pair of ‘Toms shoes’ instigated by his purchase.

Automotive companies are extensively making use of these technologies to engage their customers better. For example, Volvo wanted to virtually demonstrate its design and capabilities to its customers. Hence, they teamed up with R/GA and FrameStore to design an interactive experience using Google Cardboard – a new and low-cost virtual reality platform. After downloading the Volvo Reality app, users could slide their smartphone into the Google Cardboard mount to look around the inside of the car and take a virtual test drive.

Augmented reality is transforming the fashion and beauty industry by enabling them to provide virtual assistance to their customers who cannot physically try the products. For instance, Macy’s – a department store chain is simplifying the process of cosmetic selection for their customers by using AR technology. They created a mobile app that allows users to choose from thousands of beauty products and shades for customized makeovers.

In today’s new normal, where social distancing and partial lockdown are the ways of life, providing customers the immersive experience becomes a necessity for businesses to ensure not only survival but also profitability. Immersive experience enables businesses to enhance engagement and increase their credibility and value.

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