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Augmented Reality and Brand Experiences: Examples and Business Opportunities for Enterprises

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Augmented Reality and Brand Experiences: Examples and Business Opportunities for Enterprises

By Alfred Taren | April 9, 2020

The best brands are continuously seeking new and exciting ways to reach their target audience. The brands that hope to stay relevant need to express themselves in refreshing ways to make their consumer base take notice and pay attention. With the advent of augmented reality technologies, many companies are already working toward that goal, giving their customers a new way to engage through immersive interactions.

Two Engineers Works with Mobile Phone Using Augmented Reality Holographic Projection 3D Model of the Engine Turbine Prototype. Development of Virtual Mixed Reality Application.

Augmented Reality [AR] is the latest trend in new customer experiences, and it is working well for early adopters of the technology. Most consumers enjoy trying out new techniques and experiences, making the widespread inclusion of AR in applications a reality. Whether they’re using an app that lets them see new furniture in their homes, an app that applies different makeup to their faces, or an app that lets them walk through a real estate investment, AR applications offer consumers new and better ways to engage with brands.

AR is changing the way in which companies reach and interact with their customer base, helping them stay relevant in a flooded market. With augmented reality, engagement, conversion rates, and overall sales can increase simply by creating a better brand experience.

The current applications of augmented reality for businesses show promise, and the future of AR looks bright. Businesses in every industry can feel the positive effects of AR technologies, including the gaming, healthcare, real estate, education, and entertainment industries.

The Rise of Augmented Reality
Augmented reality is a technology that allows users to superimpose 3D objects into their physical world through a mobile device. Essentially, AR overlays digital information onto the existing environment to create a new environment. One popular example is Pokémon Go, wherein users catch Pokémon they can see in the real world through their smartphones.

Many tech companies are working on improving the framework and capabilities of AR, including Apple, which launched ARKit to help app developers meet this goal. Developers can now access new tools to produce stunning augmented reality and virtual reality applications.
Analysts predict continued market growth for the AR and VR industry, citing that in 2020, there will be more than one billion people using AR applications worldwide. However, even though analysts have made sizable estimates on the market growth for a unified AR and VR world, software developers feel strongly that AR is the future and will drive the majority of growth in immersive technology.

Why won’t VR be as big as AR? Virtual reality is far more complicated than augmented reality, requiring more attention for the user, who is fully immersed in a digital environment. This limits communication with the outside world while the technology is used. On the flip side, augmented reality allows users to interact with a digital world and the physical world at the same time. Users can implement AR into their everyday lives without the need for a special headset and closing themselves off from their environment. AR users can easily switch from using AR for gaming and business to shopping and entertainment, all while staying connected to the real world.

Augmented Reality (AR) information technology about nearby businesses and services on smartphone

Augmented Reality in Marketing
Many brands have already entered the AR field, integrating AR into their mobile device and browser applications for practical and marketing uses. Some example users include Home Depot, Timberland, Sephora, Chiquita, and Genius Ventures Inc.

In 2015, Home Depot released a way for customers to see how a paint color would look on their walls before they bought the paint. The Project Color app included ways to account for light, objects, and even shadows. This gave customers a realistic idea of how the color would look inside their real environment.

In 2017, Home Depot increased its AR offerings to include furniture and furnishings. Now, customers can see how colors would look on their walls and how various furniture items would look in their homes. This technology has since been adopted by Lowe’s and IKEA, too.

Timberland has also taken advantage of augmented reality, offering a virtual dressing room that allows customers to see their faces on a model body with features similar to their own. Users can then try on different clothes and accessories that the brand sells before they purchase them. Customers have a better understanding of how the clothing will look before they invest in the items, saving time and money.

Sephora offers a virtual makeup artist program inside their app that lets customers try on high-end makeup and different combinations without having to buy the makeup first. While many people prefer purchasing their makeup in-store, some people don’t have that luxury or the time. Sephora’s virtual artist app eliminates those barriers and brings the makeup studio to users’ homes.

Chiquita has partnered with Shazam to show customers exactly where their bananas came from. The new transparency app follows the entire route of bananas from Latin America to their destination. The goal is to help consumers understand the sustainability practices Chiquita is using. To view the life of the banana, users scan the blue sticker on the banana in the Shazam app and watch the virtual journey take flight on their phones.

This year, To celebrate their 50th anniversary Superstar shoe, Adidas and WSS teamed up Genius Ventures Inc to create an in-store Augmented Reality Snapchat activation. This in-store activation with Snapchat code was highly successful, so successful, that they moved on to a second phase to include a coupon-code for a free hat upon making their purchase in-store.

ADIDAS x WSS – Snapchat Activation – Augmented Reality

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5C8c_7oLrM&w=560&h=315]

Augmented Reality in Other Industries
Another example of AR integration is in the insurance industry. Insurance companies are providing ways for customers to show real-time views of damage from traffic accidents and natural disasters. On the other end of the video, operators use AR to gain a better picture of the damage, measure different aspects, and estimate the full extent of the damage and the future costs of repairs. AR accelerates the reimbursement process.

Surgeons Perform Brain Surgery Using Augmented Reality, Animated 3D Brain. High Tech Technologically Advanced Hospital.

In the healthcare industry, augmented reality gives medical students the ability to train in AR environments with mannequins that are overlaid with AR to simulate real diseases and treatments. Physicians are learning more through access to AR, and students have a more in-depth understanding of medical procedures before they enter hospitals.

Augmented Reality: The Future of Customer Experience
AR is rapidly changing the way that consumers communicate with businesses. In retail, the implications of AR in marketing are enormous and promise increased engagement and sales. AR is also taking over education, healthcare, and even the way people interact with their insurance companies.

AR is becoming more widespread and more convenient for mainstream audiences and is continually integrated into more applications and industries, making it more accessible. The technology is an ideal tool for many different brands to utilize in their marketing tactics, offering new and exciting ways to reach their customer base.

 

Alfred Taren | President
a: Genius Ventures Inc | Los Angeles | Vancouver
e: alfred@geniusventuresinc.com | w: www.geniusventuresinc.com
p: + 1 626 736 3625
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The Inland Empire Business Journal (IEBJ) is the official business news publication of Southern California’s Inland Empire region - covering San Bernardino & Riverside Counties.

Business

Partners in Action: How CalOSBA is bridging the gap in funding and resources for Inland Empire small businesses

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By Josaline Cuesta, California Program Director, Small Business Majority & IEBJ Content Contributor

For Tara Lynn Gray, Director of the California Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA), entrepreneurship has always been a core principle of her life. Her journey as an advocate for small businesses wasn’t built on textbooks, but on her family’s roots in small business ownership. As a young girl, she watched her grandmother empower and elevate Black women’s presences by styling their hair and instilling confidence in their personhood. She witnessed the direct impact of small businesses on community members in real time, and that’s always stayed with Tara.

As a key partner of Small Business Majority, she stands as a champion for the dreamers and risk-takers; the pillars of the communities across California and in the Inland Empire. I chatted with her to share more about her work at CalOSBA, what entrepreneurs can expect when they meet with a CalOSBA advisor, and the resources and community support available to help boost entrepreneurship in the Golden State.

Tell us about CalOSBA’s role in the small business community.

“California has the biggest small business community in the country, accounting for 4.1 million small businesses in 2023 alone. The overwhelming majority have no employees at all, except themselves, which means they don’t have a Board of Directors, expensive consultants, and they definitely don’t have lobbyists. I take my role as their advocate seriously, talking with and listening to small business owners from up and down the state. During the pandemic, we were under a very bright spotlight, administering nearly $5 billion in direct relief funding and we’re proud of the grant programs we still oversee. But that’s only a small part of what we do at CalOSBA.

My team connects small business owners to information and resources to help them get started, manage their business and, most importantly, to grow. If they’re looking for help, we want to be the first door they knock on. In addition, we offer Outsmart Disaster training, which focuses on how to mitigate risks associated with natural disasters and recovery avenues available to them. I always say the flagship of our office is our support for the statewide network of Small Business Centers, providing 1:1 business assistance and training for small business owners of all industries and in dozens of languages. In addition, supporting partners that deliver these services–all the federally funded centers like the Small Business Development Centers and the Women’s Business Centers but also Chambers of Commerce and other nonprofits—is a core function of my office. And a big source of pride because we know what a difference they make for their clients.”

What can small business owners expect from meeting with a California Small Business Center advisor?

“Small business owners can expect to meet someone who is fully invested in them. Our Centers cover the full spectrum of business needs, from writing a business plan and obtaining the right permits and licenses, to finding capital, planning a succession strategy and marketing to e-commerce. Our business advisors provide the experience and the objective perspective to help business owners optimize their best assets: ideas, energy, and ability to keep adapting and learning. And they do it because they love helping other people succeed. What’s more, business ownership can become isolating and it may be challenging for entrepreneurs to find assistance. But they don’t have to go at it alone–and they shouldn’t, when these no-cost and low-cost services are available to them.”

What’s the most rewarding part of your role at CalOSBA?

“I always say I have the best job in the state. And it’s because I frequently have the honor to watch someone’s dream come true. I love a ribbon-cutting ceremony–Every time, big or small. It means someone dreamed of accomplishing something and worked hard for it: They opened the doors to their business, they made a sale, and hopefully they will hire their first employee and then it’s off to the races. But no matter what happens to that business, that ribbon-cutting is a milestone they made happen for themselves. There are many other events I get invited to, where you can just see the hope and pride, and even fear in their faces. I’m often overwhelmed by the sheer emotion of it, and I’m always humbled that I get to participate in that person’s big milestone.”

What are some new programs that can benefit small business owners in the Inland Empire?

“The number one question my office gets asked is how to access small business financing. To help address this key need, we’re launching the Technical Assistance for Capital Readiness program this February. The program is part of a bigger effort to fill well-known funding gaps in the state to benefit very small businesses and Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Individuals (SEDI). Through investments from the U.S. Treasury, the State Treasurer’s Office and IBank, the program is going to support lenders to facilitate “high risk” loans that they normally would not approve.

In addition to supporting lenders, my office also received $25.3 million in U.S. Treasury funding to start the new Capital Readiness network. The Capital Readiness Coaches in this network will help business owners get ready for the lending marketplace, help them make the best choices in a high interest-rate environment, and optimize the use of the capital once they receive it. The network is also designed to help spread the word about this opportunity to these SEDI-owned businesses, and some of those partners will be focused on supporting the Inland Empire small business ecosystem.”

How can business owners get in touch with CalOSBA?

“That’s simple! Check out calosba.ca.gov and sign up for our monthly newsletter, where I write a column and showcase success stories from our network, along with deadlines and updates on grant and workforce support programs. We’re also on social media, so I would encourage business owners to check out all of our channels.”

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Opinion

BNBuilders’ Scott Augustine Leads the Company’s Expansion into the Inland Empire

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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

Residing in the Inland Empire for nearly a decade, Scott seamlessly integrates his professional expertise with a personal dedication to regional progress. With an extensive 20+ year career in construction, he has played a vital role in shaping BNBuilders’ presence in the Inland Empire’s landscape. Notably, his impactful contributions to UC Riverside and his current involvement in the development of the Chámmakilawish Pechanga School for the Pechanga Band of Indians. This endeavor reflects his commitment to projects that not only enhance the built environment but also contribute to local education and well-being.

Since joining BNBuilders in 2020, Scott has brought valuable knowledge and leadership to the team. His impressive professional qualifications underscore his dedication to safety, sustainability, and maintaining the highest standards in construction practices.

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Career & Workplace

California’s Population Decline Continues to Hammer Labor Supply

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State’s Workforce Contracts Again In Latest Numbers; Unemployment Rate Ticks Up 

California’s labor market grew modestly in the latest numbers. Total nonfarm employment in the state expanded by 8,700 positions in September, according to an analysis released today by Beacon Economics. August’s gains were also revised down to 8,900, a 19,000 decrease from the preliminary estimate of 27,900.

As of September 2023, California has recovered all of the jobs that were lost in March and April 2020 (the beginning of the pandemic), and there are now 436,400 more people employed in the state compared to pre-pandemic February 2020. Since that time, total nonfarm employment in California has grown 2.5% compared to a 3.0% increase nationally. On an annual basis, California increased payrolls by 1.7% from September 2022 to September 2023, trailing the 2.1% increase at the national level over the same period.

California’s unemployment rate rose slightly to 4.7% in the latest numbers, up 0.1 percentage points from the previous month. The state’s unemployment rate remains elevated relative to the 3.8% rate in the United States overall. Moreover, California continues to struggle with its labor supply, which fell by 17,700 in September, a decrease of 0.1% on a month-over-month basis. Since February 2020, the state’s labor force has contracted by 216,300 workers, a 1.1% decline.

“Census figures released this week reveal the extent to which households continue to leave California,” said Taner Osman, Research Manager at Beacon Economics. “The state’s population has fallen by half a million people over the past three years and this is filtering through to the economy, where the labor force has shrunk and employers are struggling to find workers.”

Industry Profile  

  • At the industry level, job gains were mixed in the latest numbers. The Health Care sector led the way with payrolls expanding by 18,200, an increase of 0.7% on a month-over-month basis. With these gains, Health Care payrolls are now 9.6% above their pre-pandemic peak.
  • Leisure and Hospitality was the next best-performing sector, adding 11,300 jobs, a month-over-month increase of 0.5%. With these gains Leisure and Hospitality payrolls are now 0.4%, or 8,500 jobs, above their pre-pandemic peak.
  • Other sectors posting strong gains during the month were Retail Trade (3,100 or 0.2%), Construction (2,200 or 0.2%), Real Estate (600 or 0.2%), and Management (500 or 0.2%).
  • Payrolls decreased in a handful of sectors in September. Information experienced the largest declines, with payrolls falling by 7,300, a contraction of 1.3% on a month-over-month basis. However, this decline was driven by the strikes in the Motion Picture and Sound Recording sub-sector, which has shed 30,800 positions over the last year, a 18.2% decline.
  • Other sectors posting declines during the month were Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (-5,900 or -0.4%), Administrative Support (-5,500 or -0.5%), Manufacturing (-4,600 or -0.3%), Finance and Insurance (-2,200 or -0.4%), Other Services (-1,100 or -0.2%), and Transportation, Warehousing, and Utilities (-500 or -0.1%).

Regional Profile

  • Regionally, job gains were led by Southern California in September. Los Angeles (MD) experienced the largest increase, with payrolls growing by 8,700 (0.2%) during the month. The Inland Empire (5,900 or 0.4%), Orange County (5,400 or 0.3%), San Diego (1,400 or 0.1%), and Ventura (800 or 0.3%) also enjoyed job gains. Over the past year, Orange County (2.1%) has seen the fastest job growth in the region, followed by Los Angeles (MD) (2.0%), El Centro (1.8%), Ventura (1.7%), San Diego (1.5%), and the Inland Empire (0.7%).
  • In the San Francisco Bay Area, growth was mixed. San Rafael (MD) (1,000 or 0.9%) and Santa Rosa (1,00 or 0.5%) enjoyed the largest increase during the month. Vallejo (600 or 0.4%) also saw payrolls expand. On the other hand, San Francisco (MD) (-4,100 or -0.3%), San Jose (-1,800 or -0.2%), the East Bay (-1,600 or -0.1%), and Napa (-300 or -0.4%) all experienced payroll declines during the month. Over the past 12 months, Santa Rosa (3.4%) has had the fastest job growth in the region, followed by San Rafael (MD) (3.0%), the East Bay (2.0%), Vallejo (1.9%), San Francisco (MD) (1.4%), San Jose (1.3%), and Napa (0.5%).
  • In the Central Valley, Sacramento experienced the largest monthly job gains with payrolls expanding by 2,200 (0.2%) positions in September. Payrolls in Bakersfield (700 or 0.2%), Modesto (700 or 0.4%), Redding (500 or 0.7%), Visalia (400 or 0.3%), Stockton (200 or 0.1%), and Chico (100 or 0.1%) also jumped during the month. On the other hand, Madera (-300 or -0.7%) and Merced (-100 or -0.1%) had payrolls decline. Over the past year, Yuba (2.6%) has enjoyed the fastest growth, followed by Hanford (2.4%), Fresno (2.3%), Sacramento (2.1%), Visalia (1.4%), Chico (1.3%), Bakersfield (1.0%), Madera (0.7%), Stockton (0.7%), Modesto (0.2%), Redding (0.0%), and Merced (-3.6%).
  • On California’s Central Coast, Santa Barbara (400 or 0.2%) added the largest number of jobs in September. Salinas (300 or 0.2%) and Santa Cruz (100 or 0.1%) also saw payrolls increase during the month. On the other hand, payrolls in San Luis Obispo declined (-300 or -0.2%). From September 2022 to September 2023, Salinas (4.2%) added jobs at the fastest rate, followed by San Luis Obispo (3.1%), Santa Barbara (2.9%), and Santa Cruz (1.7%).
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