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The Web-Based Augmented Reality Landscape for 2021

January 19, 2021

2020 AR market predictions were greatly underestimated due to the pandemic’s sudden push toward virtual alternatives. Now in 2021, Augmented Reality is expected to continue to grow at an accelerated rate.

The concept of Augmented Reality (AR) is not a new one. It has been making advancements over the years, impacting industries such as gaming, healthcare, and insurance. Since the recent emergence of Web AR, retail and marketing industries have also made huge shifts toward Augmented Reality.

Technology leaders predict that AR will overtake Virtual Reality within the next three to five years, impacting the market in a big way.

COVID’s Impact on Augmented Reality Market

Last March, the world as we knew it changed almost overnight with the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our social climate changed from an interactive and public one to an isolated, stay-at-home lifestyle. 

One unintended side-effect of Covid has been a boost in AR usage since it offers a viable platform for virtual experiences. With the insurgence of people staying home, both for work and their free time, there has been an increased need for virtual experiences. From gaming and online retail shopping to virtual doctor appointments, experts in many fields see the benefit of utilizing this technology for their businesses. 

The impact it had in 2020 will likely impact AR trends for 2021 for two main reasons. 

First, Covid, of course, didn’t disappear at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. Social distancing efforts and regulations are still in place. Even once regulations lift, it will take time for the public to ease into normal life again. So, many industries and people will still rely on virtual alternatives to in-person interactions well into 2021.

Secondly, many industries have now realized first-hand the effectiveness and usefulness of Augmented Reality. Case studies in the AR marketing realm show consistent engagement rates of 35% and higher. With the new AR analytics, more companies are adding Augmented Reality to their digital marketing strategies.

Furthermore, now that consumers have more experience with AR, they will continue to expect and demand it. Whether for shopping, gaming, instruction, or convenience, the positive consumer response to AR should further drive the AR market. 

The Web-Based Augmented Reality Landscape for 2021

Many experts predict that AR trends for 2021 include an increase in Web-Based AR, AR marketing and ads, and AR-enabled shopping experiences. Let’s examine each of these a little closer.

AR vs. Web-Based AR

For those that don’t know, AR is where the real-world meets a computer-generated world. It’s an interactive experience between the real-world environment, such as a city street, and computer-generated information, like a digital vehicle. Essentially, the real world is enhanced by digital information, bringing reality and fantasy into one realm. 

One example of AR is the game Mario Kart Live. In the game, each player has a real-life remote-controlled vehicle viewed through an AR-enabled camera. Each player can view the game in real-time and real-space from a “third-person” perspective. 

Until recently, AR experiences could only be achieved using specific software applications or by downloading special mobile apps. That has all changed with the technological advancement of Web-based AR, also called Web AR. Web AR allows users to view AR through a web browser, without any need for special software or Mobile App. 

Web AR Trends 2021

The advancement of Web AR has opened up Augmented Reality to the average consumer. Since apps are no longer required, smaller businesses can invest in the technology without having to first invest in an app. Plus, not having to take the time to download an app makes it substantially more user-friendly.

Users simply point their device’s camera at an Augmented Reality QR code or tap a link to activate an AR experience instantly.

During 2020, many industries turned to Web AR to stay connected to their consumers. Web AR live events & conferences were particularly on the rise since in-person events were forced to cancel worldwide. AR live events proved to be an excellent alternative.

For instance, Pot Noodle scheduled their annual career fair for early 2020, but coronavirus struck right before. They quickly adapted to the situation and hosted an AR careers fair instead. The results were better than expected, with a 500% increase in job applications. So, even if they could return to a live event in 2021, they will likely consider sticking with AR or creating a hybrid event. 

5G Impact on Web AR Landscape for 2021

Another reason Web AR is expected to greatly increase in 2021 is the rollout of 5G mobile networks. Since it’s release, Web AR has been limited to 4G speeds. 

On 4G, an AR experience is limited to about 20mb. With 5G, AR experiences can go into Gigabytes without issue. The 5G network essentially frees Augmented Reality from the constraints of load speeds.

5G Augmented Reality will be a game-changer in 2021. Augmented Reality solution providers can now create bigger and better experiences for consumers to enjoy anywhere there’s phone service. Granted, it will take some time for 5G to become widespread, but the most populated areas will be connected first if they’re not already.

AR Marketing and Ads

AR has become very useful in the world of marketing and advertising. It allows users to experience products or services firsthand by giving them an interactive, immersive experience. 

There has been a surge in AR marketing across all mediums:

  • AR print marketing
  • AR Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising
  • AR product packaging
  • AR E-Commerce
  • AR Live Events

Augmented Reality takes any form of traditional marketing to the next level. A postcard can come to life, a product’s packaging can offer games or instruction, and digital marketing can pop off the screen into the real world. 

AR marketing and ads have already been on the rise. And again, it’s only going to accelerate with the rollout of 5G in 2021.

AR-Enabled Shopping Experiences

Another way that AR is affecting society is through its use in shopping experiences. In fact, it has become so popular that it is one of the leading retail trends. 

Many furniture and home improvement stores utilize this technology on their websites.  Homeowners can pick a new paint color for their living rooms by seeing what it will look like in their real-life space before purchasing. Or, a family can see how a couch might look in their living space before heading down to the furniture store to purchase it. 

The fashion and beauty industries are also using Web AR to boost their sales. For instance, women can “try on” a new shade of lipstick without leaving their house. They may even try on a few new colors that they would not dare purchase in the past, fearing that it wouldn’t be the right shade or might be too bold. 

Learn More 

If you’d like to learn more about Web AR, Augmented Reality marketing, and AR E-Commerce, visit our blog. There you’ll find market insights, examples of AR experiences, and much more.

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