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What the Weird, Wonderful World of AR Means for Social

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When you change the way you see the world, you change the world you see.

Not my words but the words James Akrigg, Microsoft UK’s head of technology for partners.

Speaking at last year’s MADE Festival, Akrigg laid out Microsoft’s vision for augmented reality.

The tech giants are currently spearheading AR with their own HoloLens, alongside Google and Apple who are also working on new hardware.

It’s clear that AR will change the world in ways few could have imagined, and you can’t help but feel excited.

Social media is no exception either; AR will have a huge impact on the way we socialise and online interaction as a whole.

Augmented reality predictions

Augmented reality is currently available to the masses through Snapchat, Pokémon GO and other apps.

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But you’d be mistaken if you think the journey starts and ends here. What we’re experiencing now is the precursor of things to come, a soft launch if you will.

Unfortunately, high-end AR comes with a high price tag. It’s tech for the wealthy and the obsessed, but that won’t be the case forever.

More advanced hardware, like the HoloLens and Apple’s proposed AR glasses, will eventually be as commonplace as smartphones.

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Tim Hyde (head of campaigns at Social Chain) sees AR being useful to fashion brands, with social playing a greater role in the consumer journey.

Two examples of this are Facebook’s bid to become a marketplace for online purchases and Instagram’s photo-recognition tags for shoppers.

The example Tim uses is footwear brands creating interactive shoe boxes with QR codes that can be activated to unlock shareable content.

Alternatively, as we’ve seen with the HoloLens, there is the potential for interactive AR stores – how long before we see the first holographic pop-up shops?

Josh Morgan, our resident tech guru, predicts a similar future for AR in the online shopping market.

“I can see AR being adopted by the masses with the introduction of high-quality, low-cost glasses that utilise planning and shopping apps,” he revealed.

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It’s also worth mentioning Snapchat’s recent acquisition of Climagine, an Israeli start-up that enables users to preview furniture purchases.

Interior design aside, there’s the inevitable crossover between augmented reality and live streaming.

From a Social Chain point of view, we’ll be looking to use AR in the future to bring our campaigns and activations to life.

The calm before the storm

AR is going to have a huge impact on social communication, much like live streaming did.

“What we’re experiencing right now is the calm before the storm,” says Joe Gradwell (head of network at Social Chain).

“AR is going to be the next step. We can all see it, we’re just waiting for the technology to become accessible to a wider market.”

“The exact same thing is happening with Facebook LIVE 360. The technology is there but only for a select few pages. We’re all anticipating the big reveal,” he adds.

A world beyond filters: enhanced social experiences

Facebook and Instagram have become lifestyle tools for both consumers and brands.

Convenience and enhanced social experiences will define 2017.

Brands will have to adapt to new technology while applying a social first mentality to stay relevant.

And while the lessons of deeper than engagement – sparking an emotional reaction – will still apply, the real test will be to create compelling content in a brand new landscape.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the second instalment of our ‘Beyond the Static’ series. Missed part one on virtual reality? Check it out right here.

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