Last summer's exponential rise of 'Pokémon GO' propelled augmented reality (AR) into the mainstream.

The game really showed off the capabilities of AR, which can now seamlessly project virtual images/objects through a smart device into the physical world. Bearing this in mind, AR is set to redefine the ways in which consumers intend to interact with brands across several industries.

With AR especially making major waves in the creative economy - from retail to live entertainment/events - recent research by Goldman Sachs showed that AR and VR is predicted to grow into a £71 billion ($95 billion) market by 2025.

Interested in AR, OnBuy analysed findings from Mindshare, who surveyed 1,000 UK smartphone users to see whether they preferred to experience AR 'experiences' either on their smartphone or using a pair of smart glasses.

The Findings

OnBuy found that most Brits would prefer to experience aspects of social media communication enabled by AR effects (e.g. face filters, gifs etc) through their smartphones (87%) rather than smart glasses (13%).

Connected packaging, which allows consumers to scan a QR code on the packaging or product itself (once purchased) to primarily get usage/assembly instructions or greater insight into the brand's story, is popular on smartphones, with 82% of Brits claiming they would use their smartphone as opposed to 18% of Brits who would use smart glasses.

Further on, 71% of Brits would select smartphones and 29% would opt for a pair of smart glasses when using online shopping tools specifically designed to help them visualise items before buying. This integration of AR is already notably used by Ikea, whose ARKit app allows consumers to virtually try furniture around their home to see how it looks and fits before making any purchasing commitments.

Lastly, despite smartphones (62%) still reigning supreme, Brits would be most open to using smart glasses (38%) for wayfinding purposes. Wayfinding referring to superimposing navigation pathways onto the actual world to follow a set destination. This AR 'experience' successfully captured by the worldwide popularity of 'Pokémon Go' - which allows gamers to harness their smartphone GPS to locate, capture, train and battle virtual creatures as they appear in the real-world environment.

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Further Insight

Of the 1,000 UK smartphones users, 16% would interact with AR when using Snapchat filters. Next in popularity were those who played 'Pokémon Go' (15%) and then, equally scanning QR codes to unlock information was shared by 15% of users. 13% experienced AR when using face filters on the image sharing platform Instagram.

The Potential Near Future: Smart Glasses

With most brits selecting smartphones over smart glasses to enjoy AR enabled experiences, it's no surprise that consumers do not understand nor appreciate their full potential until their popularity continues to increase. Statistics from the research do highlight the reservations Brits have when it comes to the aesthetics of how smart glass look and feel on them. 35% of Brits would be worried about how others would perceive them if they were to wear smart glasses. Additionally, 53% of Brits would be more likely to consider wearing smart glasses if they resembled the look and design of normal reading or sunglasses.

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