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Adopting “Augmented Reality” Apps for Selling

Mobile “augmented reality,” a new technology now being tested in various prototypes and functioning apps, promises to bring still more mobile “cool tools” for consumers and more mobile merchant selling opportunities for you.

Augmented reality apps basically provide an overlay of digital information on real-world views (or a window of data associated with actual objects), as seen through a smartphone’s camera.

How Do Augmented Reality Apps Work?

In the simple analysis, augmented reality adds captions to the pictures you see through a smartphone camera viewfinder.

For example, imagine you’re a realtor and your clients are busy house hunting. They’re out for a drive through a favorite neighborhood, and spot a great house with a For Sale sign.

It’s raining and they don’t have time to take a home tour, but using a smartphone equipped with an augmented reality app, they can point their phone’s camera at the house as they drive by, click on an information label associated with the house for sale, and see a write-up and photos from the real estate listing on the phone screen.

Assuming they’re thrilled with the house details, you may thank your mobile augmented reality app for leading to a sale.

Or consider this “augmented” selling scenario. Say the same house hunters are also in the market for your home improvement materials, but all salespeople are occupied with other customers in your store.

Simply by taking a smartphone camera view of your flooring samples (tagged with augmented reality information), they can learn anything about the products, from available finishes, colors, sizes, and textures to information about where to order and pick up supplies.

And, as the couple is waiting in the store checkout line by the reading rack, they can also point their smartphone camera at an augmented-reality-enabled magazine to read a short review of your paints for their new home, too.

What’s the Value of Today’s Augmented Reality Apps?

Right now, mobile augmented reality tools are mainly the work of small startups that have built their fledgling apps on Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android platforms.

And while ABI Research noted in a 2010 study that augmented reality app revenues totaled a mere $21 million, the same finding suggested that with rapid development improvements and broader marketing, the income total could exceed $3 billion by 2016.

That means there’s room for mobile growth and selling opportunities using augmented reality apps in your marketing, search, social networking, selling, and PayPal payment processing methods. The key to product development, consumer adoption, and your potential profits will be moves made by mobile tech giants like Apple and Google.

Such companies will need to provide updated computer vision technologies for various smartphone cameras to send their image information to the growing data cloud and then back to the customers’ phones to complete an action.

Of course, the long-term benefits for merchants and consumers alike will depend on how quickly augmented reality technologies are integrated with a wide range of apps running on various mobile devices and platforms.

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