Augmented reality (AR) is changing the world around us. From video games and shopping to planning and development, augmented reality is changing the way the market and world do business. Even something as apparently simple like packaging is undergoing changes, thanks to this fantastic, unobtrusive technology.
With as much time as you already spend on R&D and labels, AR stands to save you a lot of time, effort, and cost. It lets you try out ideas before they go through production and gives you a preview of how your packaged product will look.
Here is a quick look at what AR is and how you can use it to get ahead of your competitors. From flexible packages to labels, there is much that you can improve by incorporating AR into your packaging process.
What Is AR?
AR is not the same as VR (virtual reality), though the two are similar. VR generates a three-dimensional image for users to interact with in the digital world. Conversely, AR superimposes an image on the user’s view of the real world. For games like Pokémon Go, this means adding little digital animations to the world with a smartphone or tablet.
This technology has several more practical applications, like assisting medical professionals during surgery. With a wealth of possibilities, the real excitement is exploring AR to determine its full potential across so many different industries.
With the technology still being new and innovative, you can lead the pack by putting it to good use while your competition still has not realized its full potential.
AR may have begun on large computers, but today you can bypass clunky, expensive machines with the right applications on your mobile devices. When it comes to packaging, a tablet is perfect for ensuring you have what you need to check the look of the product before you make it a reality. A smartphone will work too, but tablets provide a larger and more complete visual image.
The hardware need is fairly easy to satisfy, but the software will take you a bit longer to learn to use. Both Apple and Google have designed robust AR software platforms. Apple’s software is called ARCore, and requires Apple products to create the AR designs. Google uses ARKit for AR designs. Ultimately, the software you choose for your AR designs depends on whether you have a preference between Mac and PC.
How AR Works
Once you have the right tools to create AR, you are left with the task of creating the images that will be superimposed over the real world. The majority of the cost of AR is on the development side. During development of an image, you decide what information you would like to add to the image, as well as the image itself.
Using either ARCore or ARKit, developers create your company’s AR app. There are a number of aspects to consider during the development phase.
- Icon that will be used on the mobile device. This can be your company logo since that will help customers to quickly identify the app.
- How images will display, including all of the additional information that you want to add. The display needs to be easy to read and visually appealing. When you are dealing with labels and data, you want to focus on clean, easy to read text.
- Determine how customers will interact with the image. For example, if you offer different products in a similar type of packaging, determine how customers will select the specific product they want. The customer interaction component needs to be highly intuitive.
From the user perspective, the way AR works is more straightforward.
- Holding up the mobile device, the AR app uses the camera to capture the surrounding environment.
- The app then scans the area to determine where to overlay the AR image. This is done with app markers or trackers that analyze for certain conditions, such as a flat surface.
- Once the point for the image is determined, the app pulls the predefined details about the image (including additional information, such as labeling and descriptions) that will be added to the environment.
- After pulling all of the predetermined information, the image is compiled and applied over the real world.
Images may not appear instantaneously, yet they will display remarkably fast, giving your customers considerably more data than you can add to a real package.
What AR Has to Offer
Reading that something is useful and actually seeing how it can help your business reach the next level are two different things. The technology sounds great, but it is really worth it?
Here are the ways that AR is helping to change packaging and labels across different industries.
Rethinking and Designing Brand
When you start considering how you want to present your product – or to give it a new look – AR allows you to try out a wealth of possibilities. From changes to the color scheme and logo to the overall presentation, AR gives you the tools you need to get an idea of how your new label or package will look in the real world.
A Sneak Peak before You Develop Ideas
If you are considering changing the look of your product, you can preview how it will look. Perhaps you are considering a new solution, such as pouches or shrink sleeves. You can actually test different sizes and shapes to ensure that the presentation of your product (and brand) is optimized.
This can save you a lot of money on developing different packaging looks. It does not change the fact that you will need to develop the actual product to test on your packages, but it will ensure that the look does not hold up the production process of your new packaging.
Easier Customer Accessibility
One of the things that causes customers headaches is getting enough detail to make an informed decision on what product is right for them. AR allows you to give your customers so much more than what is simply printed on your product packaging. A QR code is an extension of the conventional barcode. The main advantage of a QR code for your business is the ability to store up to 100 times more information than a conventional barcode.
By giving your customers more information, you are more likely to make them happy. And happy customers often become repeat customers and they create word-of-mouth buzz. Everyone appreciates knowing what they are getting when they make a purchase.
The AR Competitive Edge
You can even work to create a more personal attachment, add some details about your company’s story. When potential buyers feel more of a connection by getting a glimpse behind the scenes, they are more likely to purchase a product. This coupled by the additional information provided by AR can be a great marketing strategy, especially as the traditional avenues, such as billboards and commercials, become less effective.
A Low-Cost Addition
Once you have the necessary software, making AR a part of your rebranding can decrease expenses. After the initial cost, there really is not much more required to start making it an integral part of your development cycle.
With nearly limitless possibilities, AR can open new avenues for marketing and packaging without the high costs typically associated with new development. Incorporating this technology will undoubtedly give your business an edge in this competitive marketplace.
Simplifying Your Packaging Process
To maximize the benefits, keep three considerations in mind as you design your AR packaging.
With consumers’ attention spans being considerably shorter today, it is critical to maximize available space on your package. AR lets you leave a lot of open space, which can increase brand recognition.
Instead of cramming a lot of information on a small package, you can simply add the product name, company name, and any required packaging information. The rest can be added through the QR code. This creates a much cleaner looking package that attracts the eye.
Labels no longer have to be so cramped or the font shrunk to nearly illegible size. Now, you can make the details visible in AR and keep the packaging looking clear and easy to read.
Easy to Update – No Repackaging Required
One of the biggest benefits of AR is the ability to change the virtual information. This is far more efficient than having to update every package with new information. No change to your packages is required, just the virtual detail. This can save a significant amount of money on packing.
While you will need to make some changes to your production methods initially, you will not have to change your hardware. Ultimately, AR helps to streamline the process for packaging and labeling because it can all be done from a computer.
An Interactive Element
AR provides an element of interaction for customers to get a chance to view your product without taking it out of the packaging. They can move their mobile device around the AR image and see what the product looks like from all angles. This can help them make better decisions about what products will work for their needs.
You can add instructions and useful information through AR too. Let your customers see how to use a product, and they won’t have nearly as many questions once they get the product home.