As we head ever closer to Christmas and New Year, we can't help but reflect on the past 12 months and ask ourselves the inevitable question as to whether the proverbial platform and product peanut has been pushed forward.
The answer for us, without hesitation, is most definitely "hell yes!"
The context of the year in mobile, wearables, the internet of things, VR and AR has meant that computer vision and image recognition is getting more air-time and interest globally, as we move towards a paradigm shift in how technology creates a new canvas for the world.
Smartphones have continued to improve on all metrics; power, performance, processing, price etc. and continue to attract ever increasing amounts of our media consumption, m-commerce and marketing dollars.
Phones, phablets and tablets have once again dominated as they increasingly become the hub of our digital lives. They are our personal command centres marshaling every aspect of our daily routine. And with AR they also become the lens through which we can connect the physical world of things with digital devices adding another layer of info-tainment.
High profile announcements from Oculus and Magic Leap have once again ignited peoples’ interest in the potential of bridging and blending the space between the virtual and real world. This disruption undoubtedly throws up many technical challenges (just look at the recruitment board for job vacancies at Magic Leap!) but it also throws down the gauntlet to the creative community and content creators.
Here’s the interesting thing, increasingly the real trick is in humanising technology: thinking end user first and making sure the experience is worthwhile and not just a technological leap – even the most amazing technology would be redundant without the want or need of the consumer.
The same goes for AR. Creating AR content for your product or brand that looks amazing is one thing but making it a meaningful experience that informs or entertains end users and delivers an action or positive intent is something else.
We’ve distilled the principles for success in our field down to three C’s: Relevant Context, clear Call To Action and compelling Content. Understanding what is the right occasion for AR is the first step, as not everything needs or suits AR, even if it is technically possible. Stating clearly that a product or image is AR-enabled and eluding to the benefit is also critical so you’re going to need some real estate to message this value-add feature. Finally, delivering content that you couldn’t get more easily elsewhere is critical to reward people for using the app and to scan your product or promotion.
Our data analytics throughout the year have shown great examples of users getting these three C’s right with benefits such as great engagement, repeat usage and propensity to purchase.
Looking forward into 2015 we see huge opportunity. For us we continue our mission to democratise AR for big and small companies across the globe, driving down the cost whilst delivering the best quality experiences of any platform on the planet.
Through our unique zapcode solution and Zapcode Creator platform you’re going to see some major advancements in the tools available to cater for the extraordinary breadth of content our community create (and thank you Zapcode Creators for all your brilliant feedback this year). Whilst in our app we’ve got major updates with some killer new features to improve scanning, sharing and storing of experiences on the way.
We’ve also got some really exciting new global partnerships to announce and a number of secret squirrel R&D projects that take the enterprise element of our business to another level and also redefine the use of AR to create bite-size entertainment experiences for a mobile world.
So as we close the door on 2014 it only remains to say a massive thank you to all our Zappar brand partners, Zappar Resellers around the world, Zapcode Creator community and the millions of people who have zapped products and promotions throughout the year. We hope these experiences surprised and delighted you all in equal measure. For us 2014 goes down as the best year yet but we’re already beginning to think it won’t be a touch on 2015. There’s much to do and the work is already under way…