Giving the Gift of AR this Holiday Season

Some people can be hard to shop for. There are two great ways to get around this problem.  The first is to give them something completely unique and personal to them. The second is to give them something that you already know that they love but give it to them in a unique way. Augmented Reality can be an exciting and unexpected way to explore either of these approaches.  

Isn’t VR cooler?

There’s a lot of hype around virtual reality right now – and with good reason. However, virtual reality (in addition to requiring more robust hardware) means that everything is digital. That means that everything has to be created. Items, landscapes, maybe even representations of other users. That takes a lot of time, effort, and money. Augmented reality primarily uses a person’s physical surroundings, with a couple of changes brought to you by creative technologists. That means that a single item, character, or special effect can create a completely unique experience without needing to reinvent the wheel – and everything else – on a computer.  

AR: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

What’s more than all of that, AR draws on the viewer’s connection to their physical environment. It uses computer magic to bring a little something extra to the way that they experience the places, items, and even people that they already love. That brings us back to using AR to solve tricky problems on your holiday gift list. 

Give Something Truly Unique

Everything experienced in AR is completely unique to the viewer because what is going on in the camera feed is going to be different every time. No matter how special the experience is, the physical setting where the user chooses to launch that experience makes it even more personal and meaningful. ROSE created a virtual model of the real-life Edmund Pettus Bridge for an educational AR experience that viewers could visit from anywhere in the world. Some chose to go through the experience wherever it was convenient or practical for them. But, users can also choose to place the experience in an area that has emotional significance to them. A complete experience may be difficult to give as a gift. It is possible for you to create a one-of-a-kind AR item. That could be an object or character that only exists in the digital world. It could also be a 3D model of a physical object with a special significance to the friend or loved one to whom you present it. The great thing about digital objects is that they don’t have to exist in one format. While you might choose a special experience for the initial gifting, consider giving the file of the object itself as part of the gift. That way, the receiver can take their digital object or character with them into other virtual worlds and digital experiences.

Give Something Physical – but Augment it

Some augmented reality experiences originate in the digital world and project out into the environment, like the digital objects that we were just talking about. Other augmented reality experiences start with a physical object that computer magic only enhances. In this way, you can give a “normal” gift that stands out a lot more. Patrón’s digital wrapping project took a bottle and some care to create a magical holiday gift Gifters created a personalized virtual wrapping for a Patrón bottle, including photographs, text messages, and other AR customizations. As a result, the end gift wasn’t “just a bottle of liquor,” it was a meaningful and personal one-of-a-kind experience – through the magic of AR.

Get Really Creative

Some AR gifts combine everything that we’ve talked about: a digitally-enabled personal experience, a virtual object, and a physical object with augmented value.  The adidas DEERUPT sneaker launch involved a physical box that appeared empty. Inside of that box was a grid that served as a target for a social media-friendly AR version of the shoe. This allowed fans to enjoy a product “unboxing” before the shoe was physically available. Giving a gift like this allowed a special early opening of a product naturally followed by the object itself. It’s not every day that a company does something like a virtual unboxing. However, you can apply this idea to your own gifts. Give someone a marker that launches an AR experience, even a simple one, while the “real” gift is something much bigger. That could be an item that hasn’t arrived yet, a trip someplace special, anything that you can think of. You can also use AR to let your friend or family member choose their own gift. Fashion brand KHAITE partnered with ROSE to bring models and fashions into a user’s home using augmented reality. Users got to see a personalized fashion show in their own chosen environment – and then had the option to buy the fashions that they viewed.  

Think Outside the Box

This article has provided a few ideas and a few examples. But, no article could capture all of the possibilities that AR presents for gift giving. In part, that’s because AR allows us to think outside of the box – or any other physical constraints. So, let your imagination run wild.  Freely available AR object and experience building platforms are proliferating but still require a certain amount of skill. So, this article has included links to sites that you can use to have an expert help you create a digital item or experience of your own. You can also keep an eye out for ready-made experiences from brands who are increasingly using AR in creative ways.