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How augmented reality wants to help you shop

Zach Miners | May 30, 2014
At this week's Augmented World Expo, some companies are showing off how 3D imaging techniques can be used to help sell products.

But companies like Cimagine and Augment show that augmented reality is not just about geeky-looking glasses. If anything, the field may be gaining more traction among businesses now, who see the potential for making better connections with customers.

For some, 2014 even marks a tipping point in the growth of businesses around augmented reality. Total Immersion, an older player that provides 3D graphics and other services for brands, reported Wednesday that for the first time ever it had monthly recurring revenue with repeat customers.

When it comes to using the technology for shopping, it's not perfect. Items might hover in mid-air, or the tablet could get choked up trying to quickly process images from people's kitchens. And companies in the space are still far from providing a mass market service.

Robert Scoble, the technology blogger and guru who delivered Wednesday's keynote at the show, likened the field right now to the introduction of the Apple II computer in 1977. At that time, "It was called the year of the personal computer, even though personal computers didn't really arrive until 15 or 20 years later," he said.

Augmented reality's true heyday, he said, might also come later.


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