Storytelling in the last decade has dramatically evolved thanks to the technologies that allow brands to not just tell their stories, but also show them through visual and interactive elements. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are just two examples that are providing brands the ability to connect with their audiences in a much more personal and direct way.  

As seen at the 2018 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, as AR and VR become more widely available to people, the opportunities to leverage these technologies in a creative way are continuing to grow. See key takeaways below:

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is an emerging, rapidly growing storytelling medium. On a wide social scale, consumers were first introduced to AR via Snapchat lenses. Since then, Facebook and other mobile apps have brought similar offerings to the market. Most recently, Brud, an L.A.-based company, introduced a CGI influencer named Lil Miquela to the social media world via Instagram. Lil Miquela is an example of what the future holds for augmented reality and how these characters develop digital personas that can bleed into real world interactions.

On the mobile advertising front, augmented reality currently has two routes for consumer interaction— in-app and web — both of which are made possible via the high-fidelity camera integrated into newer smartphones. When an AR experience is initiated, a user’s surroundings are captured via the phone’s camera. Computer vision, machine learning, and SLAM (Simultaneous, Location and Mapping) are all components of this process. Once this information is documented, real-time adaptable creative overlays are integrated into the captured content.

Last year’s introduction of ARKit and ARCore made traditional in-app AR more attainable and dynamic. There are still limitations to AR on the mobile web, but the distribution is much greater than in-app experiences. Mobile web AR is accessible to any user on a camera-enabled mobile device connected to the Internet; it leverages JavaScript to package and deploy AR creative as well as computer vision libraries; and it works on both Android & iOS platforms. If you are representing a brand interested in testing the augmented reality space, mobile web AR is a great entry into this storytelling medium.

Virtual Reality

The virtual reality market has been filled with excitement, unrealistic expectations, and re-evaluations. With the previous fluctuations in enthusiasm around VR, we are entering a point where both consumers and companies now have a realistic perspective on what the immediate future of VR will hold.

In the past, technological limitations have prohibited the consumption of high quality VR on mobile devices. In order for past users to experience high quality VR, they would have needed to purchase equipment that can cost, at a minimum, $500. Recent advancements in chip technologies, such as Qualcomm’s XR1 platform, will help take portable virtual reality mainstream. This platform is designed for standalone headsets and does not need high-powered computers to accompany it. Advancements such as these will help re-introduce VR to consumers and hopefully drive the creation of high-quality experiences that can be consumed by audiences at scale.

Matthew Stanton is a senior strategist, Emerging Media & Technology, Digital.