Experiencing instead of observing

4 min.

Augmented reality and virtual reality turn products into an experience. Why manufacturers of luminaires have twice the benefits – particularly when using versatile plastics, such as PLEXIGLAS®.

© Röhm GmbH – Acrylic Products

With just one click on the tablet, the luminaire suddenly appears on the table, in a virtual and photorealistic depiction. The size can be adjusted up to a ratio of 1:1 with just a few swipes across the screen, while tapping the screen turns the light on and off. Why not walk around the luminaire, take a close look at it and see how the light falls? You can with augmented reality (AR).

What is augmented reality?

The basic principle of augmented reality is simple: A camera captures the real surroundings and uses digital content to provide additional perspectives of the displayed image. According to a study by the Bitkom sector association, augmented reality and virtual reality (VR) technologies have already found their way into everyday life, as can be seen in computer games, on social media and when traveling. AR and VR have also completed the initial, experimental phase when it comes to business applications. It is therefore high time for companies to take a close look at the possibilities offered by augmented reality.


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Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality

While virtually reality (VR) is completely computer-generated, augmented reality (AR) uses additional digital content to supplement a real image. VR users dive into entirely different worlds. For example, VR is widely used in the gaming sector. Mixed reality is a mixture of AR and VR.

Create a digital experience

AR, VR and MR all offer diverse potential: By using this technology, products can be placed directly in the room and viewed from all sides. “The main benefit of AR is that you can see materials up close,” explains Daniel Schulz, whose “Preality – Augmented Design” app is helping companies turn their products into photorealistic experiences.

To take a look at the details, all the user has to do is move the smartphone or tablet closer to the virtual object. “This provides a completely different impression of the surfaces than a photo.” The realistic depiction of optical effects, structures or other properties is one of the major strengths of virtual technologies.

For example when it comes to luminaires. “Photos may give you an idea of what the luminaire looks like,” says Schulz, “but AR shows you how the illumination works, too.” Together with his team, Schulz has already transferred some Ocari luminaires into the virtual world, including the “Stelaro” with its light guide sheet made from PLEXIGLAS®.

Give augmented reality a try!

Take a look at the “Stelaro” and “Liviano” luminaires from Ocari and see for yourself how PLEXIGLAS® and its light guidance turns light into luminaires.

Download the instructions for the “Preality” augmented reality app here.

Dive into expanded reality!

Increase purchasing incentive

“AR and VR provide a different experience than a photo, drawing or 3D view does,” confirms Prof. Dr. Mahmut Arica, expert for digital Customer Experience at the FOM University of Applied Sciences for Economics and Management in Münster. If customers view the product in augmented reality for a while, this will increase the incentive to buy: “A company should always strive to increase or promote interaction with the products,” says Prof. Arica. “The more closely a customer looks at a product at the start of their customer journey, the more likely they are to buy it.”

Configure products digitally

There are multiple benefits for manufacturers of luminaires. Firstly, they benefit from the customer purchase incentive. Secondly, the virtual technologies simplify the design process of a new luminaire. “AR is an alternative option to visualize products in common three-dimensional planning software,” says the developer of the app, Daniel Schulz. “It gives users a completely different impression of the size and impact of a product.”

Augmented reality allows sizes to be adjusted flexibly and materials to simply be swapped out. “You don’t always have to build a prototype first,” explains Schulz. “This saves both time and money.” The decisive factor here is that there are also selection options for different material variants. Versatile plastics, such as PLEXIGLAS®, provide designers with great creative license.

The original from POLYVANTIS is ideal for combining with light – whether as a light scattering, light guiding, or as a highly transparent material. PLEXIGLAS® is available in many different shapes and colors with a variety of surfaces. These variants can be visualized using AR and taken to their creative limits in the design process.

“Configuring materials with augmented reality is not some far off dream, it is a technology that is here now,” says Daniel Schulz, in talking about his practical experiences. For example, a caravan manufacturer used an AR app to visualize the entire interior, enabling users to select the patterns used on the seats in a virtual environment. And a supplier from the metal industry uses the app to show the various surfaces of its materials and their effect with different shapes.

PLEXIGLAS® for luminaires

The diverse portfolio of PLEXIGLAS®, the brand acrylic glass from POLYVANTIS, has been a proven material in luminaire design, in light planning and for light solutions. Discover more on the wide range of application options for PLEXIGLAS® for luminaires.

Do not miss out on the opportunities offered by augmented reality!

“The general aim is to create digital experiences,” Prof. Arica explains, adding: “This can also be applied to the entire customer journey, from initial interest in the product to subsequent maintenance.” The technology is only a means to an end: “What is important is that the application results in added value,” emphasizes the expert, who recommends companies begin using the new technology. “Looking at the options does not automatically mean implementing them – but there should be a conscious decision whether for or against. Entrepreneurs should not miss out due to a lack of knowledge.”

According to the sector association Bitkom, the initial technical hurdles are currently rapidly decreasing. While virtual reality requires VR glasses, augmented reality generally only requires a current smartphone model or tablet. AR glasses suitable for daily use are expected to be launched on the market shortly. And the new 5G mobile communications standard is up to 100 times faster than LTE, thereby enabling real-time transmissions – for digital experiences as if they were real!

“Augmented reality will become widespread and viable for a mass of processes, we just do not yet know when this will be.”

Prof. Mahmut Arica, expert for digital Customer Experience at the FOM University of Applied Sciences for Economics and Management in Münster

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