The challenges and promises of augmented reality were explored in a conversation between Carolina Arguelles Navas, global AR product strategist and product marketing lead at Snap Inc., and Adriana Lee, technology reporter for WWD, at WWD x FN x Beauty Tech Forum.
The main topic was how Snap is trying to make AR fashion more accessible for brands.
“Obviously, we’ve spent the last 10 years trying to grow that consumer behavior with AR and the camera and make it a daily behavior,” said Argüelles Navas. She said that people are eager for new kinds of experiences with Snapchat.
She said that the biggest change in recent years was not really on the consumer side, but on the business side. “We have spent three years talking to so many types of brands, retailers, merchants and platforms to understand what challenges you face. And how can augmented reality really meet those challenges, but specifically why is it a bit difficult to adopt? she said.
Three areas emerge around quality, craftsmanship, and making sure you don’t downgrade the products you’re actually creating.
“What does that look like in AR and how do you do it in a realistic way?” she said. The second area was around how difficult it is to create the necessary assets and experiences, and how scalable the tools are. The third area is making sure it’s really worth your time and investment, because you can reach people at scale and do it on all platforms.
In its recent Snap Partner announcement, Snap said it has invested in those three key areas. The first area was about investing in quality, craftsmanship, and realism. Features like Ray tracing is “a really incredibly powerful technology, with brands like Tiffany as launch partners, showcasing improvements to the technology to show how light and shadows reflect off these new types of products and 3D assets within the camera,” he said. And it’s a game changer for jewelry. It’s a game changer for metallic hardware on bags, even a game changer for eyewear to enhance that realism,” said Arguelles Navas.
Second, Snap released a great set of features to make it easier to build by integrating with the commerce back-end. “So how do we take the images you already have on your retail website and translate them in a new, automated, AI-powered way to try on garments at scale without the need to develop a 3D model?” she asked. she said that The third area of investment is about expanding the reach. “So how do we really help you enable these new technologies for people and shoppers, not just on Snapchat, but on your own retail app and website with features like camera kit?” she said.
Speaking of the $124 million acquisition of Fit Analytics last year, Arguelles Navas said: “It’s really about this broader area of how to help people make confident decisions online when they’re shopping. And part of it is visualizing… and ‘what does it look like on me?’ And the second part of that is, ‘Is this the right size for me?’”
He said that the FIT Analytics solution is being integrated into Snap’s broader tech stack for commerce to help provide fit and sizing recommendations combined with that AR visualization and testing to really help drive things like conversions and lower returns on retail websites.
Speaking about AR for sneakers on the platform, Arguelles Navas said: “Sneakers are obviously a category that’s a bit more mature than others, like apparel, which is actually starting to find the new kinds of technologies needed to enable it at scale and quality. .”
“Obviously very precise foot tracking is the first step in being able to enable and render a visualization of a 3D model of a shoe on your foot… But sneakers are really the core vertical use case within that space. now just because of how the tracking works. .”
She said they’ve seen incredible adoption from partners like Gucci, along with digital fashion companies, who have been leveraging their technology stack for years to be able to bring those experiences to life.
Argüelles Navas said that they are seeing momentum within the vertical of the foot. He said there are brands like Dior that generate a 6.2x return on ad spend by displaying sneakers on people’s feet, but they’re just getting started with footwear. “We are already investing in new kinds of enhancements in AI and machine learning so that we can wear heels or boots.”
While virtual try-ons are important for sneakers as well as beauty and eyewear, it’s another story for clothing.
Speaking of fabric simulation and body mesh, Arguelles Navas said: “The vertical clothing is difficult for many reasons. On the one hand, it’s challenging due to the volume of individual items, as well as how quickly they move per season. Those two things make creating 3D models very difficult. But on the other hand, it’s rendering. How do you realistically place this on someone? And there are a lot of different angles that you have to tackle from a technology standpoint.”
She said very high-quality body mesh and 3D body tracking is needed to prove that silk, for example, is not stiff cardboard. “And it should move and flow this way based on that person’s movements … And it should show the sleeve and that should wrap around just this part of that person’s body,” she said. “You I need things like physics… what would gravity look like or how would it impact if someone touched that cloth? How would it affect movement? Physics is really amazing to see some of the progress we’ve made with our platform. Now we can have the ability to have long, dangling earrings and if you actually move your hand where that 3D object is on the camera, the camera knows how to move the earring as a result,” he said.
Argüelles Navas argued that virtual clothing fitting is important because it could help consumers feel more confident that they won’t need to return something they bought online.
Personalization is just as critical, he said, noting that 71 percent of consumers expect a more personal experience.
“This is especially true for Gen Zers who are really looking for that. And again, I think the camera is unlocking such an incredible opportunity to evolve the customer experience at a time when loyalty is at an all-time low. How do you change from something that feels like food to something that is almost emotional, she said.
“And this change in experience, this change from being able to go from a feed to a mirror and putting that shopper at the center of your brand is really changing the way that companies build relationships, even beyond the purchase. How can AR be a tool that when someone already bought your eyeshadow palette or item of clothing and has it in their closet, they could use the camera to look at it and get exclusive content like hair styling tips and other items? that they could comb with that garment. Or how could you have a different style depending on the season, or for your eyeshadow palette, how do I get a step by step tutorial on how to actually use it? You’re seeing brands like Estée Lauder invest in those kinds of tutorials after they scan their palettes, because of the opportunity to solve those issues, those issues around customer experience, lack of loyalty, lack of connection to a business.” said.
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