Thanks to augmented reality ‘virtual try-ons,’ your phone screen is now your fitting room

Retailers from IKEA to Warby Parker are offering new AR tools for mass-market consumers.


February 6, 2019

Brands ranging from Warby Parker to IKEA have launched augmented reality (AR) apps that let customers digitally “try out” new glasses, shoes, and dressers.

People have been excited about the idea of AR for a long time. Now, big brands have found an IRL application of AR for the mass market.

From Pokémon Go to Warby Parker

In the past, AR has been predominantly used for research (by the Navy, computer scientists, guys in lab coats, etc.) or for video games (the most popular example being Pokémon Go).

But thanks to Apple’s release of ARKit, a program that lets developers build iOS AR products, brands can now build applications of AR for people who aren’t naval scientists or Pikachu trainers. 

What AR we actually talking about here?

So far, most consumer applications of AR fall into 2 categories: “Trying on” apparel and seeing what furniture looks like. 

Warby Parker built an iOS app that gives buyers a lens into what they’ll look like in different glasses. Wannaby, a Belarusian “AR commerce” startup, built Wanna Kicks to offer sneakerheads sneak peaks of whether different kicks will look slick.

IKEA and Amazon also offer AR tools to help future furniture owners visualize couches in their houses. Down the road, savvy sellers will find more ways to harness the make-believe marketing potential of AR.

Maybe Subway will even let you build your virtual sandwich before you order…

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