July 7, 2011, 10:42 AM

Augmented reality brings out the inner diva

A new iPhone app points to the future of m-commerce.

Lead Photo

The Divalicious iPhone app uses augmented reality to achieve "the cool factor" that's important in mobile apps.

I’ve never been one for futurists, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that augmented reality will play an important part in the future of mobile commerce. Virtually every use of the technology I’ve seen thus far has at its heart been practical, though overwhelming the usefulness is the fact that it’s just so cool you can’t help but be drawn in. It translates to more time on site (or in app), more informed shoppers, happier shoppers, and ultimately, I believe, more sales.

Just today the Divalicious iPhone app made its debut on the m-commerce stage. It allows you to upload an image of yourself, from head to toe, so that you can place clothes from more than 300 retailers on your body to see how you would look. You can sit there and have a ball with it, creating different outfits—which is exactly what retailers want you to do. Just think of the greater buying confidence inspired by such technology compared with just looking at clothes on models on e-commerce sites. Divalicious is an app to keep an eye on.

Last month, OverstockArt.com unveiled a mobile app with a brilliant use of augmented reality. The iPhone app lets consumers walk around their house, snapping pictures of rooms in which they want to display art. The consumer then drops a piece of art from the e-retailer’s selection onto a wall in a room to see exactly how it would look in her home. Once again, think of the greater purchasing confidence augmented reality technology inspires.

And in March, in a more high-tech implementation of augmented reality, coupon kingpin Valpak released an iPhone and Android app that offers real-time coupons for stores within feet of a smartphone user. A consumer opens up the app, selects Show in Live View and the camera screen appears. Linked to the phone’s GPS technology, the camera shows businesses with coupons onscreen as the consumer slowly waves her smartphone up and down a street. That sure beats coupon-clipping.

I’ve talked in these pages before about how cool is important in mobile commerce. And as new apps like Divalicious splash onto the scene, it bears repeating: Cool counts. And augmented reality is one sure way to be cool.

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