Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world. Think: Warby Parker's website feature, Virtual Try-On, which allows customers to upload a selfie and get a realistic idea of how a new pair of frames will look on them, helping facilitate the decision process and guide the sale. Or Uniqlo's Magic Mirror, a virtual fitting and dressing system for customers to test clothes in different colors without physically changing.
GPShopper recently surveyed over 1,100 American consumers to determine their awareness of a number of retail technology trends and how they want to use those technologies in their shopping experience. The study, “Reality of Retail Tech,” conducted online with third party research firm YouGov, found that 58% of shoppers who would like to use AR while shopping want to use it to see how certain items might look in a different color before buying.
But apparel and accessory brands aren't the only retailers who can leverage AR to engage customers. 50% of those surveyed want to use AR to get additional information about a product, such as ingredients or the materials used. Who better to deliver AR-enabled information than those in education?
Retailers in the publishing and educational media industry can benefit greatly from the technology, giving customers a more rich, supplemental experience as print media becomes a personal preference instead of the necessary vehicle for consuming content that it used to be. There are plenty of ways that these retailers can leverage AR to offer a fun and engaging mobile app to students, parents and teachers, building brand loyalty and increasing conversions along the way.
Today's generation of readers expects more than just words on a page. Penguin Books partnered with Zappar to enhance the pages of classic novels such as "Moby Dick" and "Great Expectations" with Augmented Reality. The series uses AR to bring the covers of these classic novels to life, creating book experiences. Further encouraging brand engagement, each AR-enabled book encourages users to “like” Penguin Books on Facebook with a single tap. This allows the publisher to connect with its consumers and market additional products to a growing social media audience.
While Penguin's attempt at this is more novelty than genuine educational value, it is a great first step towards providing an engaging experience first, a pathway to sales second.
Augmented Reality can improve classroom learning through interaction, and Science AR is an app that was designed with schools in mind. Physical posters come alive with 3D models, videos and scientific diagrams when app users simply hold their mobile devices up to different areas of the posters. Point your device’s camera at something that the app recognizes, and it will generated a 3D animation or video superimposed over whatever is on your camera’s screen. The effect makes the computer-generated item appear like it’s really there. Educational retailers could do the same by selling physical AR-enabled materials such as textbooks, discussion materials, reference guides, or posters for the classroom, turning lessons into exciting interactive activities.
According to GPShopper's research, 58% of shoppers want to use AR to see how something looks in their house before buying. Teachers could also use a space planning feature (like Floor Plan Creator or IKEA's Virtual Preview) to map out their classroom layout. The app could make recommendations for products based on grade levels and layout, including the interactive AR-enabled posters discussed above.
Lastly, homework assistance with a dose of AR can work wonders for the communication process between teachers and students. Teacher-turned-techie Drew Minock, co-founder of the educational blog TwoGuysAndSomeiPads.com says this is probably the most powerful way he used Augmented Reality as a teacher.
"I would take a picture of the homework assignment, and then use an app named Explain Everything to attach a mini-lesson," Drew told Verizon Corporate Communications. "When the student puts the device over the homework, it looks like I am writing on top of their homework while I am explaining it to them. The impact is huge for kids who didn’t fully comprehend the concept in class, especially visual learners. Using augmented reality, we saw the homework get completed more often, and test scores went up. Parents sent us emails saying that they loved it."
Incorporating a digital whiteboard feaure like Explain Everything's that adds an experiential layer to digital books sold in-app could transform the teacher / student relationship by offering an alternative method of feedback.
Every parent knows that learning doesn't end in the classroom. The average grade school student can spend up to 6 hours per week on homework, and Mom and Dad are often working hand-in-hand to complete each assignment. It can be a struggle to maintain your child's enthusiasm night after night. Enter Augmented Reality.
AR can turn an otherwise tedious task like studying flash cards into an interactive, reward-driven pursuit. Designed for toddlers and preschoolers, AR Flashcards was created to get children involved in learning the alphabet and animal names at an early age. Parents download and print free flashcards from the AR Flashcards website. When you point your mobile device at a printed flashcard, a beautifully rendered 3D animal will pop up on the screen. Tap the animal to hear the letter and animal name. There are endless ways that educational retailers could implement a feature similar to this - flash cards, study guides, even virtual bootcamps for standardized test preparation.
Using Augmented Reality, kids do more than thumb through textbooks or passively watch a video. They become the pilot of their own education, navigating their own path by diving deeper into their specific areas of interest. Parents and teachers alike can better support students with technology-driven experiences, and the retailers who offer these experiences will soon become a mainstay in the industry.