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Augmented Reality: The Future of Shopping?

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Mashable has a profile of two companies that are trying to change how people shop through augmented reality. Imagine trying on clothing, jewelry, and other wearable goods without ever going to a store. There are companies trying to make that a reality, and the way they can do it is with augmented reality.

One of these firms, GoldRun, specializes in AR campaigns that use its app platform. Multiple clients and multiple ad campaigns mean the GoldRun app can be used again as long as the firm has another ad campaign on the way. GoldRun’s specialty is having participating retailers host an AR photo opportunity, turning everyone who takes a picture into a brand ambassador. The company had a successful campaign for Esquire, sending app users to their local Barnes & Noble (BKS) to find the February cover model Brooklyn Decker and snap a pic.

According to what co-founder Shailesh Raohose told Mashable, GoldRun is “creating a platform where we can use augmented reality to create a one-stop shop, based on the concept of using virtual brands to create geo-specific or geo-targeted virtual photo opportunities.”

Holition, the other company profiled, is part-marketing firm and part-AR pioneers. The company creates custom digital platforms for each client that allows any shopper with a webcam to virtually try on the goods. The image is displayed on the prospective customer’s computer monitor, turning their office into a dressing room.

Brand director Lynne Murray told Mashable that Holition isn’t content to stop at the virtual wearing of items. She said that Holition is “pursuing active ways in which the other senses can be integrated into augmented spaces, whether that be touch or sound.” In the future, you will be able to hear that virtual ring you’re trying on.

So far, most augmented reality advertisements have been fairly gimmicky, with an app that does nothing outside of that one add. Some marketing and development firms want to change that and make AR useful.

For instance, clothing company Moosejaw has been successfully advertising with sleazy but fun AR apps since last year. Last year’s app let you see through a model’s clothes, this year you can soak one down with a water gun. They serve no other purpose than to let their people play and have Moosejaw advertise to them.

Augmented reality is the overlaying of graphics and textual information over what you see in the real world. Right now augmented reality, or AR can be viewed through an iPhone (AAPL), Android (GOOG) device, or a PC monitor.

The eventual end goal for most trying to develop this is a head-mounted viewing device, like a computer inside glasses. Google is trying to make one of these with its Google Glasses. Even camera giant Canon (CAJ) is getting into AR with its own head-mounted displays.

(See also: Amazing iPhone App Proves We Live in the Future)
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