Thanks to the popularity of movies such as Tron and The Matrix, the notion of an alternate, ‘virtual’ reality entered the mainstream for the first time. The term VR is frequently used as an umbrella term for various kinds of immersive mixed reality experiences, including that of augmented reality (AR). AR refers to a kind of interactive experience where a real-world object or environment is enhanced by means of a digital overlay, which adds additional layers of perceptual information, such as computer generated images, 3D objects, sounds, etc.

The main appeal of AR is the fact that it seamlessly combines the physical world with a digital one, thus creating a new kind of information-rich experience. AR technology has progressed by leaps and bounds in the past several years, and is now being used in industries as diverse as video games, education, military, medicine, marketing, and others. While the potential of AR still remains largely untapped, professional mobile app development companies are starting to expand their services to include AR app development.

If you are trying to become an AR app developer yourself, or if you’re looking for inspiration for your next AR-based project, check out our list of the most recent AR success stories in the post below.

Sephora Virtual Artist

In 2017, the cosmetics brand Sephora released its Virtual Artist app, based on AR tech developed by ModiFace. The way the app works is relatively straightforward – it allows potential customers to put on virtual makeup without the need to buy the product first, or mess with their face. The app scans the lips and the eyes of the users, creates a digital representation of them, and then allows the user to switch between different lip colors, eye-shadows, fake lashes, etc.

Sephora developed the app in an attempt to boost ecommerce sales, which were trailing behind in-store purchases because customers couldn’t try out makeup products before buying. The app isn’t the smashing success Sephora hoped it to be due to technological limitations, but these will likely be surmounted in the coming years.

Click here to see how Sephora Virtual Artist makes AR work for them

IKEA Place

Ikea Place is an AR app that allows customers to try out IKEA furniture in a virtual environment before buying. This app is a continuation of IKEA’s previous attempts at providing a 3D catalog of their products. In comparison to the previous app, IKEA Place provides better scaling for objects displayed, and it no longer requires a physical prop to function.

It can render accurate 3D images with full shading, giving customers realistic portrayal of how the items look in the real world. IKEA Place is a means of solving a long standing issue specific to furniture retailers, namely the fact that you can’t try out a piece of furniture at your home before buying. The app has over 2000 IKEA items for customers to try out, with more being added all the time.

Click here to see how IKEA Place works

Dulux Visualiser

Paint manufacturer and retailer Dulux has also entered the AR marketplace with its Visualiser app. The premise is simple – the app allows you to try out different colors of paint without having to physically paint your walls. The app uses your smartphone camera to detect walls and other flat surfaces, and you can then select the areas you wish to cover with virtual paint. The experience of using the app is still somewhat clunky – color often seeps into areas beyond the one you selected, which somewhat limits its use usefulness.

On a more positive note, the app also has features such as the ability to detect colors from the environment, and find suitable matches for the surface you are trying to paint. As it the case with all current AR apps, the technology is still in development, so we can expect better results in the future.

Click here to see how the Dulux Visualiser works

GAP DressingRoom

The clothing retailer GAP tried their hand at developing an AR app for trying out clothes. Their motivation was similar to that of Sephora – online shoppers were reluctant to commit to a purchase without trying out the items first, creating cart abandonment issues. GAP’s DressingRoom gives shoppers the option to select a virtual body type, and then customize its shape and height.

The customization options are still pretty basic at the moment, but GAP expressed their commitment to add more as their AR capabilities develop. Once they’ve created an avatar, the customer can then try on a whole range of apparel. GAP hopes to eventually reach a level where physical dressing rooms are no longer necessary for trying out clothes, thus paving the way for a future without physical clothes stores.

Click here to see the Gap DressingRoom in action

Bic DrawyBook

Stationery giant Bic is trying to take AR app development in a different direction. Instead of focusing on their retail operation, Bic opted to create an enhanced coloring app for children. The DrawyBook app was created to offer kids and parents an alternative to mobile gaming apps.

The app works by providing a narrative framework to the experience of drawing – they are given certain tasks they need to solve in order to progress with the story. Children’s book author Elissa Elwich was responsible for coming up with the narrative. The app also gives kids the option to scan random images, and then add their own effects as overlays. DrawyBook is an excellent example of what thinking outside the box can accomplish when applied to AR app development.

Click here to see a Bic DrawyBook demo

Measured by Lowe’s & Envisioned by Mine

Home improvement brand Lowe’s is offering to separate AR apps to its customers, Measured by Lowe’s and Envisioned by Mine. The first one is a virtual tape measure that allows customers to measure their homes and furniture by using their smartphone. The app has advanced predictive features, and it can measure lines, surfaces, and volumes that extend beyond your immediate environment.

The second one is an app for trying out furniture, with an extensive catalog of products and an interface for online shopping. It is similar in terms of functionality with apps like the aforementioned Ikea Place. Of the two apps, the first one seems to have more potential, despite the simplicity of its features. The ability to accurately measure any space without a physical implement is simply more useful than an enhanced shopping app.

Click here to see Lowe’s AR app


While AR app development is still in its early stages, the results so far show promise. Practically any aspect of our daily life can be enhanced through the addition of a digital overlay, and is up to companies to explore these options. Consumers have already shown a willingness to use them, so it is just a matter of being the first to build one.

Author Bio: Nina Ritz

Nina is a technical researcher & writer with DesignRush, a B2B marketplace connecting brands with agencies. She loves to share her experiences and meaningful content that educates and inspires people. Her main interests are web design and marketing. In her free time, when she’s away from the computer, she likes to do yoga and ride a bike. You can find her on twitter