One of FGX’s senior content writer’s writes about his experience with augmented reality, and why it’s going to change everything. Including how you do business.

Missioning to find me some augmented reality portals.

It’s Saturday afternoon, and I’m feeling lazy. I normally would just sit in front of the television either watching one of the million Marvel Cinematic Universe movies or playing Xbox. I don’t like doing much on Saturday afternoons. And I have a crush on Capt. and Thor.

But lately, I’ve been feeling inspired. To get out the house and go on an adventure. So, I grab my coat, pull on my boots, say goodbye to the cats (“me-e-o-o-ow ow”), and step through the door. Into my car I go, and dock my iPhone to the magnetic phone holder.

Soon I’m driving around a close-by neighbourhood. I’ve never actually ventured in before. Always driven past, on the outskirts, never took notice. So why am I exploring its depths, as if journeying on safari into the wilderness?

Well, Ingress. Ingress is a geo-caching augmented reality game. It represents a real-time map of the world on your phone, as well as your location. It has this entire backstory of a war between two factions fighting for control of “portals” located throughout the world. These portals can be claimed for one side or the other. It’s similar to ‘capture the flag’, that old kid’s game. Except the world’s your playground.

I’m on the ‘Enlightened’ faction. I’m tempting to go into it, but that muddles the point of this story. Which is, these portals are all real-life points of interest – they’re chosen by the Ingress community based on perceived cultural, social, or artistic value.

Many you’d never even know about.

Currently, I’m at the next portal: it’s by a small church, old, and quaint. The portal is a striking iron cross that sits in the yard facing the street. It’s just here. And it’s something I could easily never even acknowledge consciously in my life – until now.

Video gaming reality. Making reality more real. And catching Japanese monsters.

There are hundreds of thousands of these points of interest all over the globe. This game, though it’s augmented reality, is having the real-world effect of getting people walking or driving around town. Exploring. Taking notice of things they’d never have noticed before.

It has a business application too. Ingress is helping companies like Google data-mine, and develop their location-based services. Ingress players vote in points of interest and photograph them – they’re mapping out our work.

Then there’s the phenomenon called Pokemon Go. As you may know, the Pokemon are the marvellous megalith marketing spawn from Japan that have captured the imaginations of children and child-like adults everywhere. Captured their wallets, too.

(Which reminds me of an old saying – if you want to get someone’s wallet, go for their heart. It’s an advertising axiom.)

Similar in concept, with Ingress, the Pokemon are “embedded” in our reality, and the augmented reality “sees” them. People are also travelling around, exploring, getting out, being active, and engaged, in the efforts to build up their Pokemon collection.

They are everywhere. It’s just not recommended you go find Pokemon in Hillbrow. These Pokemon are desperate, and will steal your phone and sell it for crack.

“How do I look in these, daaaaaarling?”

Initially a “gaming” technology, augmented reality has started to see other applications too. For instance, you can now use certain apps to ‘design’ your home, seeing in real-time the changes new décor or a new lick of paint will have on it.

In fact, Facebook is now introducing augmented reality adverts. These ads allow you to “try on” consumer products – for instance, a pair of aviator sunglasses. How stunning do you look in them? Like a Top Gun pilot? Well, if you like what you see, you’re more likely to make an online purchase. By using augmented reality in this way, you’d be exciting your potential customer at the prospect of having this particular product in their life. It’s a short step from there to entering credit card information and an influx of cash flow into your account.

So, really, augmented reality cannot be ignored.

We foresee it eventually becoming an indispensable part of the retail space.

Closed for business? Or the chance to open a new one?

Let’s take it one step further:

It may even alter how we shop at all: with trends being what they are, we can see ‘shopping malls’ becoming completely virtual. Rather than physically going to the shopping centre down the road, in future we may enter a virtual space designed purely for browsing.

(This would actually be a combination of virtual reality and augmented reality. This is definitely coming.)

That’s part of the essential excitement of going to a mall in the first place. Browsing. Not being sure what you want, but wanting to look around. To try things on.

With augmented reality, browsing can now become a reality in the digital space. There’s currently a vacancy in the market for an Amazos-like online store that caters primarily to clothing and fashion, where you can literally try out what you want before you buy it. See how good you look in it. Not working for you? How about the items to the left?

How’s your business going to deal with changes in shopping patterns when it does? Because, ironically, unlike Ingress and Pokemon, augmented reality in the clothing retail space may mean people don’t get out at all.

For help navigating future shock and developing solutions that survive a world where the rules change irreversibly every five years, speak to us, as leaders on the forefront of Digital.