Having been already tucked in our homes, these changing faces of reality through artificial intelligence, virtual shows, high-fashion gaming, and so many others are now at an alarming speed. They allow us to be transported to new places and try on new features while we are not making a single effort. But unlike the rest of the world, has India caught up in this changing bandwagon yet?
One of the most important and rapidly evolving medium has been digitisation and technology, the ‘immediate need’ to jump into this new model of communication, connection, to be relevant and accessible, is known to all. The pandemic has changed the course and demographics of almost every industry. The way we perceive the experiences and realities of the world present around us has gone haywire too. While the west has been quite soon in incorporating the technological changes, in the East – China has kept everyone on toes with their examples of digitisation.
The boom of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality(VR) has increased in manifold in the last month. Brands, organisations have been continuously investing in the technology space, which has been the true comrade for increment in engagement and conversion in the present times. Designer and founder of Vandals Jewelry – India’s first lab-grown diamonds, Vandana Jagwani says, “India has the highest millennial population in the world, so the technology sector and digitalisation is growing. The working style has changed for every business, from data maintenance, management, sales everything is digitalised. For a consumer, information and marketing have also gone digital as it offers convenience with minimal effort and global access.”
Enter AR and VR:
An already popularised notion by the numerous filters in Snapchat and Instagram, Augmented Reality has already been a favourite equipment, only it needed brands and firms to realise its importance and capitalise on the medium. If not for coronavirus, would we ever unfold this chapter so soon? Well, thanks to the pandemic! Artisanal jewellery designer Roma Narsinghani has pushed the Indian envelope too with the launch of Instagram AR filters that enables users to experience her new collection, ‘GAIA’ during the lockdown. The AR filters served as an easy way for users to experience the look and feel of the pieces from the comfort of their living rooms, revolutionising the traditional consumer experience.
Roma Narsinghani’s IG filters, GAIA Collection
Lifestyle brands have been leaning into technology more than ever. While luxury brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Marine Serre has shaped what the world of AR and VR would be like, it had been time for India to gear on this technology festival too. Hiloni Sutaria, lead architect of Hsc Designs, tell, “I think International Organisations might have caught up on the digital sector faster as they always had the technology or the mediums for global collaborations, for capitalising digital conversations. We are catching up fast to the idea of global and local collaborations through these mediums too.”
The current world crisis has subjected all to adapt to the ‘new normal’; being resistant and creating structural changes in industries is the only way to keep the customers happy and galvanised. An architecture firm based out of Gujrat, Hsc Designs has curated India’s first digital exhibition ‘Macro to Micro’ using VR technology to showcase their coveted range of furniture and interior accessories. The digital showcase enables effortless navigation within the space housing furniture pieces and brings out the real-life spatial quality of light and volume. It morphs the macro experience of being in exhibition space to fit in our micro screens. Hiloni adds, “We have always been interested in testing the concepts of design ideas to make social and visual perspective changes in the minds of people. Hence most of our designs heavily rely on responding to tactile and visual impulses of the user. We wanted to conduct an experiment through built forms of translating these design perceptions of Architectural scales into smaller and bigger scales and see how they influence the end-user and whether we derive a better product out of the macro-micro scale transformations hedonistically and functionally.” Every piece in the exhibition encourages customer interaction. The visitors can view the articles from every angle and identify varied options for colour, textures, materials, etc. thereby getting complete freedom to order bespoke and customised.
‘Macro to Micro’ Digital Exhibition
In the same Indian space, Vandals Jewelry institutes a revolutionary augmented reality app, allowing us to try on the jewellery from the comfort of our home hence ensuring a contactless purchase. Bringing a new and unique perspective of what the future of jewellery design could be, the app with AR allows you to try on products by simply switching on your front camera and selecting a product which will then realise. Vandana adds, “Technology always helps, our augmented reality app has allowed customers to virtually try on the jewellery which helps narrow the choices. They may not be able to touch the piece before buying to feel the craftsmanship, which is where they trust the brand quality. But they get to see designs and suitability for them, for example, if a certain earring would suit their face shape, which in turn reduces the risk of contactless shopping.” At a time when ‘touch business’ is a complete no-no, AR has been helpful for various brands to increase the reach, improving sales and mitigate loss at a time like this. India’s AR solution provider for jewellers, mirrAR by StyleDotMe counts more than 150 jewellers like Tanishq, Kalyan Jewellers, Senco, and HazooriLal Legacy among its clients.
Vandals Jewelry By Vandana Jagwani
Need Of The Hour:
Augmented Reality(AR) and Virtual Reality(VR) are emerging as critical enablers in a COVID-19-ravaged world that have reset the strategy for several businesses. About 100 Million users will shop in augmented reality online and in-store by the end of this year, as per a Gartner report last year. In India, the AR market is estimated to grow to $5.9 billion while the VR market is expected to grow to $0.5 billion by 2022, as per a Nasscom report last year.
Our country’s mainstream crowd is still catching up with these advancements. Moreover, investing or spending by missing out on the physical aspects becomes more challenging. This lockdown has expedited the change. Having organised India’s first digital exhibition for furniture and interior accessories, Hiloni tells about the difference in terms of physical exhibitions, “The response to our pleasant surprise was fantastic. Not only could people visit and see our products whenever they wanted through the comfort of their homes and then order and catalogue of products, but we were also able to take the advantage of a digital space. We were not restricted to a small space. We could showcase a huge eclectic collection of 25 pieces of furniture which would have been impossible in a physical space. Also, we were able to reach people from all parts of the world, making the exhibition not restricted to a small audience. We also had the advantage of being able to launch the products and furniture in a space that was our own architectural design.”
‘Macro to Micro’ Digital Exhibition
For designer Vandana, her jewelry brand has already been way ahead of time and carved out a new contemporary definition to Indian jewelry. With her techno-advanced designs, she brought out the creation of lab-grown diamonds for the very first time in our country. Because of her ability to searchlight intelligence, she had been quick in bringing out innovative technology for her progressive customers. She adds, “Digitisation offers convenience with minimal effort and global access for consumers. Even a digital lookbook is helpful for consumers to be able to see the products. It is definitely growing, although it’s limited to a lower price bracket which the consumer feels comfortable buying, but as consumers get comfortable with the products and the brand they tend to increase their spends.”
The V/S Factor:
This digital nuance would bring a nice change to how work can be showcased, and sales can be improved during a pandemic. We might have never thought that the transition to digital troops would be at such lightning speed, but they are the only tools with which the world’s leading brands are hoping to secure their future. According to Vogue Business, “Ralph Lauren has a team of 3D experts; Tommy Hilfiger’s new Stitch incubator is training employees on digital design skills. Demand for AR and VR engineers increased 1,400 per cent in 2019.” The more digitised and online accessibility your services have, the better it is in the long run. The paradigm shift was negligible in the past years, but not now! Hiloni says, “It is a shift of change for a field that in the end relies on physical manifestations as built forms but slowly, everyone is coming up with solutions on how best to incorporate social distancing and the rules post-pandemic in these built forms.”
‘Macro to Micro’ Digital Exhibition
Well, Snapchat has already been in this AR race since 2015. Even recently, Instagram began testing AR try-ons in October with brands including Nars and Oliver Peoples. Instagram Checkout has also proven to be a reliable driver for brands with its AR filters, bringing consumers closer to transacting. This tends to be a very crucial medium as it allows these social media platforms to also venture into the e-commerce heaven. Vandana shares, “AR is definitely a helpful tool for a lot of people shopping online. Overall I believe online shopping for the majority is a comfortable and happy experience for low-value items. I think over a certain spend, and luxury people would want to take the time out and go shopping and feel the product and experience. I think for a full store experience digitally; one would require multiple tools like AR, a virtual call, etc.; however, it is definitely possible to offer and have access to all the products, information and guidance otherwise offered in store.”
AR and VR are definitely the change for new experiences and realities. The sooner Indian brands jump into this bandwagon and fully make use of its potential, the better we can scale up in the global lifestyle-tech market.
Vandals Jewelry By Vandana Jagwani
To take a VR walk-through of Hsc Designs’ ‘Macro to Micro’ digital exhibition, visit this link
To try-on Vandals Jewelry through their AR-app, visit this link
Banner Image Credits: Hsc Designs