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Sherpa AR Project React

Client Work: Sherpa AR Studio Project’s React Video

Augmented Reality (AR) technology provides the opportunity to create unexpected new interactions with a traditional printed piece.

Recently, Sherpa AR teamed up with McMaster Engineering and McMaster Engineering Students’ Society to create an AR experience for new students.

 

THE CHALLENGE

McMaster Engineering wanted to send out a “Welcome Kit” to new students of the faculty that was engaging, memorable, and interactive, to excite students about the upcoming year, and make them aware of various upcoming events.
Through research, McMaster Engineering found that creating an engaging “Welcome Kit” would be more difficult than originally anticipated. They discovered that direct mailing a brochure or handout would often get overlooked by students and would not be considered “fridge material”.

McMaster Engineering first consulted with us to see what options there were.

 

THE AR SOLUTION

Upon further investigation, Sherpa Marketing found that McMaster Engineering strongly believes in the pursuit of excellence and strives to be known internationally as a leader in the engineering world.
Equipped with these beliefs, Sherpa Marketing developed a strategy with Sherpa AR to create an AR app that could be used seamlessly with the Welcome Kit, to deliver a new innovative experience, an experience that drives engagement, delivers “Wow” and follows McMaster’s brand identity.

The AR app enhanced McMaster’s “Welcome Kit” with various AR embedded markers printed throughout the kit. As seen in the video, when a user points their smartphone or tablet camera to a marker on the “Welcome Kit”, the printed page would come to life – interacting directly with the user.

There were various AR elements featured in this “Welcome Kit”. For example, one AR marker would trigger a sand castle to be constructed from the page and feature a video of two students talking to the user from the rooftop of the sand castle.

 

THE RESULT

We’ll let the result speak for themselves with this video…

Students, faculty, and staff were blown away with this AR experience. McMaster Engineering stayed true to their mission and vision, and continues to build their brand as a leader in the engineering world.

Augmented Reality Agency Work

How We Bring Augmented Reality to Life

Bringing Augmented Reality (AR) projects to life continues to be a fun challenge. Graphics and processing technology have advanced rapidly over the past few years, creating space for more intricate developments and applications. This has paved the way for new user experiences for both desktop and mobile users. Among the most exciting is the emergence of “XR Technology”, the blanket term for Augmented and Virtual Reality.

XR Technology is often referred to as simply “Augmented Reality”, but in fact there are distinctions that separate these high-tech disciplines.

 

 

AUGMENTED REALITY – AR

Since you’re already an AR specialist from our previous blog post, this one will be quick. Augmented Reality is when a digital image is overlaid onto the real world. It is most known for its role in Pokémon Go, Snapchat, and Facebook filters, though organizations have been adapting this technology to a variety of industries.

For example, IKEA has made the buying process easier for customers by allowing customers to digitally place items directly into their home using their mobile app.

One challenge facing AR technology is the lack of seamless integration on devices. Currently, users must open a different app to use AR features, instead of being about to interact with them through their internet browser, such as Safari. Though, this seems to be changing – technology leaders, like Apple and Shopify, are working toward this seamless integration.

 

VIRTUAL REALITY – VR

Virtual Reality (VR) is where you take a virtual world and fill it with virtual elements. While it is mostly used in gaming, there are a variety of applications for VR technologies outside of gaming. Other industries include military, healthcare, and transportation.

For example, the military uses VR simulations for training purposes to re-create different scenarios. The training simulations are useful for dangerous situations that could be life threating. With VR technology, the military can train for these situations without risk of death or injury.

The largest challenge VR faces is that it requires additional hardware, such as a headset and controllers. While there are inexpensive options, like Google Cardboard, it does not provide the full experience. This is a huge barrier when it comes to users being able to experience VR technology. While VR technologies are being used is specialized situations, we still expect it to be a while before we see it in day-to-day life.

 

MIXED REALITY – XR

Mixed Reality (MR) is created by taking the real world and mixing in digital elements to be interacted with. It combines VR and AR technologies, where it requires a headset and controllers, though instead of a virtual world, you’re in the real world and you can interact with the elements that appear.

For example, you work at an architecture firm and you’re designing an office for a client. Your team can work simultaneously on the design in an organic way, which allows MR technologies to be leveraged to create more meaningful designs. There are a number of practical applications for MR, but with the ample hardware needed to provide this experience, we’re unlikely to see MR trickling down into B2C verticals until a few years down the road.

Augmented Reality Experience

 

WHY AR AND WHY NOW?

A common question we receive is “Why AR and why now?” Here at Sherpa AR Studio, we strongly believe in staying on the leading edge and investing in next-generation technologies. When we first discovered AR technology, we knew that it could be utilized in a variety of industries, with endless applications. Equipped with this knowledge – and a team of ambitious and talented developers and designers – we made a conscious choice to dive in head-first and get in front of the XR boom.

In time, our initial bullish beliefs were affirmed when tech giants, like Facebook and Apple, began releasing updates and creation platforms that support AR development.

So why start now? In short, we believe AR technology is at a point where clients can really take full advantage of all it can do. The technology has reached a critical point where the tools to execute mind-blowing XR solutions exists, but adoption is still at the bottom of a steep upward hill. This makes it a phenomenal time for brands to start dreaming beyond their current reality.

Seamless integration is getting closer. For example, to use the aforementioned IKEA item placing feature, users currently have to download the IKEA app. Once this seamless integration has been implemented, AR features will be available to use in-browser, so customers can experience the technology without any storage-bloating app downloads. This means that while browsing on Safari via the latest iPhone, you’ll be able to place your IKEA designs into your home without leaving the website.

 

AR TOOLS WE USE

Like any builder worth their salt, we have an AR toolbox filled with the best tools available.

ARCore. ARCore is Google’s Software Development Kit (SDK) that allows for AR applications to be built specifically for Android devices.

ARKit. Similar to ARCore, ARKit is Apple’s SDK that allows for AR applications to be built specifically for iOS devices.

Vuforia. Vuforia is an SDK too, though it is a third-party software and apps built within can be deployed to both Android and iOS devices. We use Vuforia specifically for image recognition and placement.

Unity. We use Unity to tie ARCore, ARKit, and Vuforia together. Unity is a development software/platform and we use ARCore, ARKit, and Vuforia inside of Unity to develop applications that can be deployed to a variety of platforms.

Blender. Blender is a free and open-source 3D creation suite. While it supports the entire 3D pipeline, we use it to develop 3D models and environments.

 

OUR WORK

While we’ve completed a variety of projects, we’d like to highlight a couple projects to showcase how AR technology can be applied.

 

McMaster Engineering

Sherpa AR worked with McMaster Engineering to enhance their “Welcome Kit”, an information package sent out to new students. The “Welcome Kit” featured embedded AR markers printed throughout the kit, which created unexpected new interactions with a traditional printed piece.

This unexpected experience was new and engaging to students and faculty – check out the video below!

 

Climate FieldView

A quick disclaimer about this project. It does not officially fall under the XR technology category, though we thought it was a unique way of unwrapping a full VR experience that is more accessible – plus it was one of our favourite projects, so we had to share.

Climate FieldView is a relatively new digital agriculture product in Canada, creating a buzz was necessary. Education and increasing awareness were the main objectives for this project. Sherpa Marketing and Sherpa AR conceptualized a 360° experience in the form of a customer walkthrough that would take viewers through a year of using the Climate FieldView platform within a trailer that could be taken from a tradeshow to a promotional event.

Using 360° filming technology, we captured farmers in real situations, then added branding and creative elements in post-production to ensure the tradeshow attendees could understand how the FieldView platform could be used throughout the year on their own farms.

Check out the video below to see the full experience!

How Brands Are Using Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) has been receiving a lot of attention for the past few years, though only now we are beginning to see the technology catch up to that hype.

While people have been using Snapchat filters, or still playing Pokémon Go, some incredible applications have been developed and countless more to come.

 

WHY ARE BRANDS EMBRACING AR?

The main purpose behind brands leveraging this technology is to revitalize the customer experience in a way never experienced before.

Ikea AR app

For example, IKEA knows that purchasing a piece of furniture and imagining how it would look can be challenging. It’s not like

a pair of shoes that you can try on and see how they fit. The buying process goes through quite a few steps; know what you want to buy, measurements of the room, purchase the product in-store or online, then get it to your home, and set it up.

Now let’s say you went through that entire process and something wasn’t what you expected. Maybe the colour was off or it just doesn’t fit well in the room. Your experience likely isn’t positive and a lot has been left to be desired.

IKEA understood these buying process challenges and created a free app that leverages AR technology. Their app allows customers to browse digitally for any IKEA item they desire and then use it to digitally place that exact item in their space – no assembly required.

Social media networks have been heavily adopting AR technology. Most notably, Facebook has been experimenting with advertisements that use AR technology. Recently, a select number of brands were chosen to take part in testing these new types of ads.

MK AR App

Michael Kors created a campaign, which allowed users to “try on”, then purchase sunglasses. These ads appeared in users News Feeds, along with Facebook Messenger.

Traditionally, ads have always been viewed as annoying, though these AR ads received a large increase in engagement when compared to regular ads.

For example, Kia, the car manufacture, had tremendous success with AR ads on Messenger. Using an AR experience, along with a click-to Messenger campaign, it drove a 46% increase in average daily dealer increase inventory searches and a 20% increase in daily calls to dealerships.

These results were surprising considering the aggressive stereotypes that are associated with car dealerships.

Through implementing an innovative AR campaign, consumers seemed to have taken a new view on the industry, similar to looking at it without any predetermined expectations or preconceived notions.

 

AR FUTURE

AR is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years to $215 billion U.S. dollars by 2021, and it will likely continue to grow as society continues to adapt more mobile-friendly technologies.

The future is complex, though we’re on a verge of a breakout in tech with Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT), that will only boost the use and capabilities of AR technology.

For example, AR will likely be used in AI and location-based services. The AI will play the role of the brain and layout all the information, then AR will showcase it for the user.

 

What is AR?

What is Augmented Reality & Why is it Trending?

Augmented Reality (AR) technology has been around for some time now, though it has only recently begun to make some serious splashes as it makes its way into the hands of consumers.

Augmented Reality is a digital image overlaid onto the real world. AR is the future of information delivery, storytelling, and brand interaction. No longer a novelty feature for smartphone applications, today’s AR creates real opportunities for businesses to generate and gain widespread engagement through an elevated brand experience.

Most known for its role in Pokémon Go, AR technology is stereotypically thought to have seen its main uses in gaming. While gaming will see major AR developments, there are a variety of other industries that will be driving its overall and continued growth as visualized by Statista below (see this forecast on Virtual Reality Market Size growth by Statista).

AR Market Size 2018

In addition to these other industries driving growth, it is expected that the market will reach a size of $215 billion U.S. dollars by 2021.

 

WHY NOW?

A popular question is why has AR begun to breakout now?

Only recently have major technology companies implemented built-in AR software and hardware needed to support AR advancements into mobile devices. Along with these upgrades, wide-spread device use has created a favorable environment for AR to grow exponentially.

For example, smartphone companies, such as Apple, Google, and Samsung, have built AR technology within the camera applications installed on the world’s most new devices, such as Google Pixel 2, Samsung S8, and iPhone X.

These companies have also released software development kits (SDKs) to certain organizations, who have strong design and programming teams like AR Studio, to develop applications for clients and end-users.

 

THE CHALLENGE:

Ultimately, the greatest challenge is the development cycle.

Although these large tech companies are on board and they have released development kits, it still takes quite a bit of time, to develop it from start to finish. So, the longer companies delay to jump in with both feet, the more long-term profit and market share they loose to their competitors, who are likely already developing their own AR applications.

 

WHY AUGMENTED REALITY?

A common question when talking to some about AR is, “What is the need for this in the first place?”.

Great question.

We see it as a completely new dimension of customer interaction. This ranges from person to person, business to business, business to consumer, and everything in between.