How Augmented Reality Will Transform the Jewelry Industry
Augmented reality has the potential to change the jewelry industry forever. The last tech boom shifted most of the retail industry toward selling online. Local jewelers, however, weren’t affected in quite the same way. By and large, customers still want to see jewelry before they buy it. But, all of that could change if the tech giants are successful at making augmented reality the next big thing.
How Augmented Reality Changes Everything
On September 12, Apple announced the iPhone X (pronounced “ten”). One of the big new features on the phone is advanced camera technology that makes it easy for the iPhone X to recognize and track your face. During the demo, Apple executive, Craig Federighi, demonstrated how the new tech could be used to show a mask on his face through the smartphone’s screen.
Mind you, this type of thing has been done before. What’s new is the depth of realism. This is (as Craig puts it), “a whole new class of augmented reality experiences”. He goes on to say:
“Look at the detail over the eyes… the incredible metallic reflections… the quality of the tracking… it’s just…” (crowd interrupts cheering)
Are you beginning to get the picture? This isn’t the fabled virtual reality of the 80s and 90s. This is something entirely different. This looks real. Swap “face” with “hand” and “mask” with “ring” and those “incredible reflections” could be dazzling your customer into a sale.
Augmented Reality And Custom Jewelry
The tech giants would love nothing more than to let you look down at your hand through a normal sized pair of glasses and see a beautiful ring that isn’t really there. Unfortunately, augmented reality just isn’t there yet. That means that the first great experiences may come from large expensive headsets like Microsoft’s Hololens.
Custom jewelers should keep an eye on these. The first custom jewelers who are able to offer their customers the opportunity to come in store to “try on” their ring before they make it will truly be offering something truly special. This could quickly become a standard part of the custom jewelry process and drive lots of buzz when it first catches on.
Trying Jewelry At Home
The real opportunity for augmented reality is in selling. If the tech industry figures out how to make smart glasses as ubiquitous as the smartphone, trying on jewelry at home will become a no-brainer.
Local jewelers who keep up with the technology will have a distinct advantage because of their physical locations. Consumers will likely still prefer to buy in store even if they’ve “tried on” the ring online. Fine jewelry is often a big purchase and the extra sense of security that comes from a local jeweler combined with the modern conveniences of augmented reality could be the one-two knockout that local jewelers have been looking for.
What To Watch For
You may have already heard about Holojem and other early augmented reality attempts in the jewelry industry. Expect technology to push things even further. Keep an eye out for the rise of augmented reality in the jewelry industry over the next 5 to 10 years.
If custom jewelry makes its way to augmented reality goggles like the Hololens, it will likely be integrated into popular CAD programs. Watch for major announcements from CAD software developers, or even CAD startups trying to disrupt the industry.
One day, smartglasses and smartphones may mature enough for everyday people to consider trying on jewelry with them. Watch for the major jewelry brands to start investing in high-resolution 3D photography of their jewelry. If these photos start to become available for brands you carry, change is in the air.
Keep in mind that poor quality augmented reality has been around for years. Augmented reality only becomes a serious opportunity if it looks real and is easy to use. When we start seeing good augmented reality gadgets succeed with consumers, ad opportunities are not far behind. Watch for the first “click to wear” ads to start popping up on the internet.
Once major ad platforms like Google and Facebook begin offering these types of experiences to their users, you’ll know that it’s time to consider augmented reality as part of your marketing plan. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But probably sooner than you think.
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