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A new reality

A new reality

Augmented-reality (AR) technology is gaining mass appeal and mainstream adoption across many industries, including packaging. Three practical uses of AR in the display and packaging industry are design, retail execution and shopper marketing. Lindsay Boyajian of Augment explains the technology and its application in packaging.


Augmented reality is technology that makes a real-world experience more interactive by implementing digital and sensory enhancements to that real-world setting. AR layers computer-generated enhancements on top of an existing reality to make it more meaningful through the ability to interact with it. AR is developed into apps and used on mobile devices to blend digital components into the real world.

AR capability can be used in a practical and effective manner to streamline approvals, reduce costs and drive sales across multiple and vital areas of the packaging industry, such as in design and sales. AR can be used to bring materials to life and create a more memorable and interactive customer experience.


AR can save time and move business deals forward more quickly in packaging companies by streamlining presentations and approvals with 3D imaging. AR 3D mock ups convey design ideas and apply them in a real-life context to demonstrate the value and power of what the finished product will look like, in real life, and to scale. This makes creative concepts that are difficult to explain in words and flat images alone much easier to share and communicate in a presentation. Being able to see the design ideas as a finished, merchandised, 3D result overlaying the real-life setting in which it will be used will also result in faster approvals to move forward with a design.

By showing top decision makers exactly what the design will look like in 3D, and how it will function in its true-life application, the business can save money on prototypes. With AR technology, a computer-generated prototype can be created instead, and demonstrated as if the design idea were a real, physical example, in all the real-life settings where it might be used or displayed.


Retail execution

AR is instrumental in sharing packaging and display designs with retailers and brands. This technology empowers sales reps to share 3D images of packaging on actual shelves in the location they’re calling upon with a sales visit.

Field-sales reps can use apps powered by AR technology to walk around the store, and take photos of shelves and display space on their phone prior to the sales call. Then they can use those photos to show the retailer what their company’s packaging designs will look like on the shelves of that store.

For instance, L’Oreal Professional has equipped its European sales team with Augment, an AR mobile application. Augment is integrated into their existing iPad application, giving the sales representatives access to a full range of 3D product models.

Augment allows L’Oreal’s sales team to simulate life-sized products in AR directly in customers’ salons. With this, the customer can realise the impact of L’Oréal’s merchandise. AR conveys the visual impact of the products, and their physical presence in the store.

Shopper marketing

AR apps are becoming popular. By using the camera on their phone or tablet, a shopper can capture an image of the package while shopping, or at home after purchasing, to interact through the app in a way that creates a meaningful and memorable experience for them to enjoy.

For example, last November Starbucks launched an AR app that allowed customers to interact with its red holiday-themed coffee cups. Customers just snapped a picture of a Starbucks cup with a smartphone camera and were able to interact with five different characters through the app.