Customer Journeys in 2018: The rose-tinted ...

Customer Journeys in 2018: The rose-tinted glasses of AR

In this series, we’ll tell you more about the four trends that will influence your customer journey in 2018. Previously, we covered the rise of mobile payments, and we discussed what Europe’s new privacy regulations mean for your organization. Today, we’ll dive into augmented reality, branded filters, and zapp codes.


Back in 2015, Snapchat introduced face filters. The new feature gave a big boost to the rise of augmented reality (AR). As Instagram and Facebook quickly followed suit, more and more people are now decorating their selfies with virtual objects and animations. The technology has developed rapidly, and a much larger audience has since gotten acquainted with AR. In 2016, Pokémon Go provided another boost to augmented reality.

This year, AR will grow into an even bigger hit, thanks to the iPhone X. Apple’s latest device has an advanced ‘TrueDepth’ camera that can read facial expressions and 3D data. To do this, it uses a facial recognition feature (Face ID). This technology also enabled the introduction of animoji, which superimposes facial expressions onto emoji in real time. In 2018, could we be seeing more people staring at their phones like the guy in the photo below?

 Image:  Topes de Gama

AR features don’t have much added value until developers embrace the technology. That’s why earlier this year, Apple allowed developers to experiment with ARKit. The kit offers a framework that lets you add AR features to apps. In similar fashion, Google introduced ARCore. Together, these two platforms are bringing AR to the next level.

In the year ahead, a growing number of organizations will implement the possibilities of AR into their app. Combining virtual objects with real environments creates a special experience that allows consumers to interact with brands in new ways.

While Apple sees potential in augmented reality, Samsung, HTC, and Sony are betting on virtual reality (VR). Despite the growing sales of VR headsets, the numbers aren’t impressive yet. Since October 2016, Sony sold two million VR headsets worldwide. Data about VR content downloads shows that the headsets aren’t getting much use. There’s potential in VR, but in this case, patience is a virtue.

Mixed reality

Meanwhile, the ‘perfect experience’ is still under development. It could be mixed reality (MR), which blurs the distinctions between the real and the virtual. In MR, you see the real world (like in AR), but virtual objects are added (like in VR). Both Microsoft (Hololens) and Magic Leap are building MR headsets.

Magic Leap uses Digital Lightfield technology. It manipulates the light field and integrates input like voices, gestures, head position and eye-tracking into a virtual environment. Microsoft and Magic Leap have not yet communicated pricing and availability, but both companies will sell their first headsets this year.

 Image: Luke Wroblewski and Tom Chi

Image: Luke Wroblewski and Tom Chi

Curious about other digital trends in 2018? Our next article in this series will address the introduction of Dutch voice assistents. They’re coming soon, because every player in Silicon Valley wants to be The Voice of Holland.