Augmented Reality (AR) – is the technology that allows adding non-existent elements to the surrounding reality. One of the examples may be the broadcasting of sports matches, when the video that comes with certain coordinates in the air is supplied with the flight trajectory of a ball, bootheel or a line that serves as a certain starting point. In other words, the conjunction of real and imaginary objects takes place. This effect is also frequently used in movies and advertising.
Actually, the notion of the Augmented Reality was introduced quite long ago, namely in 1990. It was offered by the Boeing Corporation researcher. That is, the very idea of using augmented things that actually take place and those that are unreal to create images in the real-time mode or during cross-cutting is not new. It’s difficult to call the technology in such a format an “applied” one: an ordinary person once used the ready-made content it was applied in. That person could not affect anything or change the means or other ways of using the technology. From now on, the situation has changed forever.
What is Augmented Reality (AR)?
Due to the development of connectionist networks, mobile devices, cameras and software, the Augmented Reality has become an indispensable part of lives of ordinary people. What’s more, it is now widely selected as the available and widespread technology to use for the completion of the applied tasks. You don’t have to be just a user without any freedom of choice anymore. Instead, you can personally decide on whether you wish to use the AR for the completion of your everyday tasks or not. What matters most is that the number of application spheres is quite extensive and it keeps growing (entertainment, construction, design, architecture, automobile industry, education, logistics, mapping, eCommerce and what not).
Well-known companies like Apple or Google extensively implement and popularize the Augmented Reality technology in their eco-systems. For example, the Safari mobile version supports the preview of the AR-based content without the need to install extra applications (it functions on the basis of the iOS12 – integrated AR Quick Look tool). ARCore and ARKit provide the environment for the development of applications and content of the Augmented Reality. Google has announced the I/O-based Android Q, which can transfer 3D objects into a user’s environment directly from the browser search field by using the mobile camera only. Anyway, the tendency is clear. In just a couple of years, the Augmented Reality will become a mainstream. The future has already come.
How Augmented Reality Works
The essence is clear: instead of watching flat images, a user gets an opportunity to try on a product or an interior object in the real-time mode. 3D models of clothes, shoes, furniture, technical appliances, flowers, decorative items and other elements can be applied by means of of your mobile device camera on real objects in the real-time full-scale regime to see how exactly they fit you.
The fact that the coordinates and the width or scale are considered and calculated in details makes the information quite valid and trusted. Anyway, it is very close to the result you will avail, when placing an order.
The prevailing amount of people now have smartphones, which makes the technology extremely available for large audiences. It’s all about its realization as the AR integration into eCommerce is quite an expensive process, which can be practiced by rich and profitable companies only.
The development of AR applications is mainly the prerogative of niche studios with complex equipment and software. The process is focused on the creation of 3D models and their further use. The cost of the technology integration will further gradually decrease. This is the major reason of why eCommerce website builders tend to integrate the Augmented Reality technology into the development of their products.
Currently, Shopify is the only eCommerce software that could afford AR introduction. This is quite beneficial for ordinary users as they avail an opportunity to use the above listed advantages without investing anything into the process. Web store owners will be able to increase their sales volume, while their customers will be more confident to buy the things they really need.
Such approach does not only increase the conversion rate, but it also decreases the number of products returned to the web store as well as boosts customer satisfaction rate. Their expectations regarding the product choice are justified to a great extent. AR integration is the revolution in the eCommerce niche.
AR Realization in Shopify
The platform supports the presentation of 3D models to clients, but you have to get them before. To do that, you’ll need to complete several steps:
- Install the 3D Warehouse app into your web store.
- Access the web store management dashboard, choose the account menu and the «Hire a Shopify Expert» option.
- Pick the “Add New Functionality” option.
- Select the “Create 3D Product Models for AR”. The cost of the service starts with $100.
- Answer all the required questions and send the inquiry.
As soon as you inquiry is reviewed, you will get an offer from the expert with all the project completion terms. You should also provide the photos required for the creation of 3D product models. Each of them requires photos made from different angles (front, both sides, back, upper and lower parts).
To create quality photos of large objects, the 50 mm camera lens will be enough. For mid-sized and small products, it makes sense to use 70 mm and 100 mm lenses. If an object has a complex and unsymmetrical texture, you may also require more photos. Obviously, the quality of images has direct impact upon the quality of 3D models. Having a professional camera is a must in this respect.
To create the exact models of objects, specification of their sizes in millimeters will be required. If you have the drafts or sketches of products with the specification of their dimensions, they will certainly come in handy.
As soon as you are done with this complex of measures, you just send the photos and get the ready-made 3D model soon. You have to thoroughly check their quality – realistic view, proportions, accuracy of joints, textures, signs or signatures and what not. These models are designed with regard to certain quality standards that are specified here.
If everything is ok, it’s high time to add the models to the web store by means of using the 3D Warehouse App. Access it to add the models of each product (upload files in .usdz and .gtlf/.glb formats based on the data you will get from the expert), specifying the titles and product links they will present. Different file types work well for different situations. For example, the .usdz version will be used when viewing the products via the Safari browser.
The next step is to activate the AR Quick Look functionality and the sign that lets you activate object preview in the 3D mode. This will additionally require the implementation of certain simple template code edits. The detailed instruction on how to make the changes is available here.
Is AR the Future of Web Design?
The AR trends become a notable part of life for web developers and ordinary users. Previously, only a small category of users had access to the the application of this technology. Today, even a small business can afford presentation of their products in the 3D mode. The cost of the service is not high, while the majority of clients have the required technical basis for the preview of such content type – these are iOS and Android-based smartphones and tablets.
Shopify has become the first full-scale platform that has integrated eCommerce AR. Obviously, web store owners find the process of AR set up a bit challenging, but it’s definitely worth that, considering the potential effect they might avail in the long run (the conversion rates may increase twice). The availability of specialized skills and software makes it quite possible to create 3D models independently. However, the prevailing amount of users will find it simpler to pay for the ready made quality result.
You can order the development of individual AR programmed solutions from web studios, but this is not beneficial at all – that’s quite expensive. It is more reasonable to use ready-made solutions, many of which are going to appear in the nearest future. Shopify was the pathfinder and it is likely to be followed by BigCommerce, 3dcart, Wix, WooCommerce and other full-featured and renowned brands soon.
Many large IT companies are exploring the AR technology, which is a worthy continuation of VR ideas (virtual reality), having become its separate branch. The technology will surely become the major future trend as it’s getting a more extensive applied meaning. Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and other reputable companies are working on the development and promotion of standards and means of application of the AR in real life. This is the cornerstone of its success and extensive development. In just around 2-3 years, everyone will use the technology for multiple purposes. Why don’t you start now?