Unlocking New Perspectives: Windowed vs. Wearable Augmented Reality

 

If you ask most people what they associate with Augmented Reality, chances are they will say Snapchat and Instagram filters, you know the ones. Day by day, Augmented Reality is becoming more commonplace, reaching well beyond the ability to superimpose puppy ears upon your grandma’s head. This emerging technology is steadily becoming more accessible for customers, as more companies adopt Augmented Reality through both “Windowed” and “Wearable” experiences. This begs the question, what do Windowed and Wearable mean in the context of Augmented Reality?

 

Wearable Augmented Reality

Wearable Augmented Reality, as its name would suggest, refers to devices that require the user to physically wear them. Using computer vision systems, Wearable AR devices are able to analyze environments and provide feedback in real-time using spatial computing. Wearable devices, such as Magic Leap or Halo Lens, offer hands-free AR activity without the drawbacks of vertigo and motion sickness often associated with Virtual Reality experiences. 

The hands-free nature of Wearable AR technology naturally lends itself to highly interactive experiences. With these deeper, more meaningful interactions, including remote free hand-tracking, come a significant boost in cognitive performance. As we covered in a recent blog, Augmented Reality possesses the ability to imprint longer-lasting memories and cut through the noise that consumers are bombarded with on a daily basis. As a result of this enhanced ability to create memories, Wearable AR technology can provide more effective, impactful training experiences. The interactivity provided by this technology greatly improves the imprinting, retention of knowledge, and memories gained in a training setting. In a practical setting, Wearable  AR experiences have been deployed in environments that range from warehouses to science labs for training sessions to drastically improve the effectiveness of memory retention rates. 

Windowed Augmented Reality

The previously mentioned Snapchat and Instagram filters are, perhaps, the most widely known example of Windowed Augmented Reality. Using a camera-equipped smart device, Windowed AR uses the device’s screen (or, window) to overlay digital elements not present in the physical world, in real-time. Given that nearly everyone and their grandmother owns a smartphone, the barrier for entry to Windowed AR is inherently low. With no need to splash extra cash on a wearable device, this segment of Augmented Reality technology offers opportunistic businesses the ability to connect with consumers in uniquely effective ways.

Take the eyeglass industry for example. With Windowed AR, users can “try it on” when shopping for new frames online quickly swapping between frames until they find the ideal fit, while never leaving the comfort of their bed. Another real-world use case for Windowed AR resides in the retail furniture industry. If you have ever shopped for furniture online, you will be familiar with the thought, “I love this piece of furniture, but how well will it actually fit in my living room?” With Windowed AR, this is no longer a worry. Using the camera on a smartphone, users are able to see the desired product superimposed on their living space. Using pre- and post-experience customer surveys, you can easily track the effect that Windowed AR has on such metrics as customer confidence.

Prior to COVID-19, industry trends indicated that Wearable AR devices were the flavor of the week. As the pandemic surged and turned the world on its head, there was a shift in focus towards Windowed AR experiences using personal devices. As this emerging technology becomes more accessible through both windowed and wearable experiences alike, there will be a steady stream of Augmented Reality hitting the market in an ever-expanding set of sectors. 

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