AR in Live Video Streaming: What it Means for Content Creators

Sorab Ghaswalla
8 min readMar 3, 2023

--

AR in live video streaming

I will be frank. I am drowning in all that talk around generative AI. The whole world (at least the content ecosystem) has jumped onto this wagon, and the ride sure feels like hurtling down a hillside. Without brakes, if I may add.

So, while it is tempting for me to bang out yet another post on AI, I decided to get away from all that gloom and doom talk instead and bring my readers something positive. All of us folks have lost some business to those infernal machines, so we need to look at other areas in content to recover.

Undoubtedly, technology is taking away some of the content and digital marketing jobs, but you can bet that technology is also adding new ones. Take augmented reality (AR), for example.

AR, virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality are part of an umbrella technology often referred to as “extended reality, “ providing users with an immersive experience. In this bulletin, I am going to talk about AR only. AR happens to be one of the most exciting trends in the world of video streaming. Without getting too technical about it, in layperson’s terms, AR is a technology that overlays digital information on top of the natural world, creating an immersive and interactive experience for the viewer. It combines real-world and virtual imagery to give you a composite view of the object or scene. Putting a Tee on your digital body or a particular carpet in your virtual living room are some examples of AR. Remember that game Pokémon GO?

Now, however, AR is catching on, particularly because of its use in live video streaming. That’s become possible now because of high-end, fast smartphones and high-speed (5G and 6G) Internet. Both of these developments allow the streaming of AR content in real-time, letting viewers experience a whole new level of engagement, and simultaneously opening up new opportunities for content creators and digital marketers. Imagine trying out a shoe in a mall without being physically present!

Before I explain how that works, here are some of the ways that AR is being used in live video streaming:

  • Sports: AR can be used to enhance the viewing experience of live sports events. For example, broadcasters can overlay player stats, replays, and other relevant information on the screen, giving viewers a better understanding of the game.
  • Events: AR can also be used to create immersive experiences for live events. For example, an event organizer can create an AR app that allows attendees to explore the virtual way, or interact with digital objects and characters.
  • Education: AR can be a powerful tool for education, allowing teachers to create interactive and engaging lessons. For example, a history teacher can use AR to take students on a virtual tour of an ancient city, or a science teacher can use AR to demonstrate complex scientific concepts. Even museums are using it for visitors’ tours.
  • Advertising: AR can also be used in advertising, allowing brands to create interactive and engaging campaigns. For example, a car company can create an AR ad that lets users see the car in 3D, or a makeup brand can create apps that let users try on virtual makeup.
  • E-Commerce AR: In addition to all this, AR has also become increasingly popular in the world of online shopping. The tech AR allows consumers to try on clothes virtually, preview furniture in their homes, and even test out makeup before purchasing.

These are just a few examples of how AR can be used in live video streaming. As the technology becomes more advanced and more accessible, we’re sure to see even more innovative uses in the future. Which means even more opportunities for creators.

A Bit Of AR History

Today, the most famous example of extended reality is the Metaverse. But Metaverse is not Meta’s a.k.a. Facebook’s creation, as many mistakenly think. The Metaverse is a parallel universe where users will be able to sit in the comfort of their homes to work, shop, and be entertained. Meta of Mark Zuckerberg and other tech biggies like Google and Microsoft have bet billions of dollars on its development, and eventual success. But doubts exist about whether it will eventually succeed or not.

The use of AR in live streaming is what we are seeing now, but to reiterate, the technology has been around for decades. In fact, AR has been in development since the 1960s, when American scientist Ivan Sutherland first proposed the idea of a “head-mounted display” that could overlay digital information on the real world.

However, it wasn’t until the 2010s that AR began to make significant progress. Remember Google Glass? One of the first major breakthroughs was the development of Google Glass, a wearable device that could display digital information from a user’s field of view.

Google Glass was not specifically designed for live video streaming, and it flopped eventually, but it did pave the way for the development of more advanced AR technologies.

In 2015, Microsoft released the HoloLens was released, a headset that could overlay holographic images on top of the real world. This technology was used in a variety of applications, including gaming, education, and industrial design.

As AR technology continued to improve, it became more accessible to developers and content creators. In 2017, Apple released ARKit, a software development kit that allowed developers to create AR applications for iOS devices. This made it easier for content creators to incorporate AR into their live video streams, and we began to see a rise in AR-enhanced sports broadcasts, concerts, and other live events.

A very popular use of AR was the release of AR lenses by Snapchat sometime in 2015. Snapchat Lenses are AR experiences that appear inside the Snapchat camera. These lenses allow users to overlay digital images and effects on top of their real-world environment and quickly became a viral sensation. This technology was later used in live-streaming applications, allowing broadcasters to create interactive and engaging content for their audiences.

How COVID-19 Was Bad And Good For AR

Like everywhere else, the COVID-19 pandemic did slow down research in AR but post it, we are seeing a growing number of companies and developers creating AR solutions specifically for live video streaming. For example, ARwall is a technology company that specializes in creating AR backgrounds for live broadcasts, while Vizrt is a provider of AR graphics and effects for sports broadcasts.

But where the practical use of AR tech was concerned, the pandemic with its lockdowns was turned into an opportunity by many where the use of AR in live video streaming. There were some who got around to organizing events and performances online, and many of these folks used AR technology to create immersive and engaging experiences for virtual audiences, helping to bridge the gap between in-person and virtual events. Like online meeting platforms Zoom and Microsoft Teams, AR live streaming gained in popularity and users.

It’s truly remarkable the way AR in live video streaming has made progress in the last few years. From early experiments with wearable devices to the development of sophisticated software and hardware solutions, we’ve seen a steady stream of innovation that has transformed the way we experience live events and performances.

AR In Live Video Streaming For Online Shopping

One of the most popular applications of AR and live streaming is in online shopping. Again, a fallout of COVID-19, AR technology allows consumers to virtually try on clothes, accessories, or footwear, before making a purchase.

The Chinese, I am told, have become the market leaders in this. One of the pioneers of AR in online shopping is the Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba. In 2016, Alibaba launched a virtual makeup app called “AR Makeup,” which allows users to try on virtual makeup and purchase products directly through the app. The app was a huge success and has since been integrated into Alibaba’s other e-commerce platforms.

Since then, AR has become a staple of online shopping in China, with many retailers and e-commerce platforms offering AR-powered features. For example, JD.com, one of China’s largest online retailers, offers an AR “fitting room” feature that allows users to try on clothes virtually.

In the western world, AR technology has also made its way into the world of luxury fashion, with brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton using AR to create interactive shopping experiences for their customers. Gucci, for example, launched an AR app that allows users to try on virtual sneakers and purchase them directly through the app. In 2020, the makeup brand Sephora launched a virtual try-on feature that allows users to test out different shades of makeup using AR technology. This feature was a hit with customers and has since been integrated into Sephora’s website and app.

The Million Dollar Question: What’s In It For Content Creators?

Without a doubt, the increasing use of AR in live video streaming has created, and continues to do so, exciting new opportunities for content creators. By incorporating AR into their content, creators can engage their audience in unique and immersive ways. For example, an AR overlay can be used to add graphics, animations, or text to a live video stream, creating a more interactive and engaging experience for the viewer.

AR can also be used for gamification; to create interactive games and experiences within a live video stream. For example, a game show could use AR technology to create a virtual game board that contestants can interact with in real-time. This type of interactive content can help to increase engagement and keep viewers coming back for more.

In the world of online shopping, the use of AR in live video streaming and online shopping represents a major shift in the way that content is created and consumed. With AR-powered features, retailers and content creators can provide their audience with a more immersive and interactive shopping experience. This can include virtual try-ons for clothes, 3D product demonstrations, and interactive games and experiences.

For content creators, the use of AR can help to increase engagement and keep viewers coming back for more. By creating interactive and immersive content, creators can build a loyal fanbase and establish themselves as leaders in their respective industries.

Challenges Still Remain But Opportunities Are On The Rise

In summing things up, there still exist challenges in the use of AR in live video streaming. One of them is the need for high-quality cameras and equipment to capture AR content. The other is for specialized software and expertise to create AR content.

But while continuous R&D ensures progress on this front, the opportunities are vast. AR has the potential to create truly immersive and interactive experiences for viewers and can help to engage audiences in new and exciting ways. With the rise of live video streaming and the growing popularity of AR, we’re sure to see some amazing things in the years to come.

(I must admit, this post is from my rather irregular newsletter, All About Content)

--

--

Sorab Ghaswalla

An AI Communicator, tech buff, futurist & marketing bro. Certified in artificial intelligence from the Univs of Oxford & Edinburgh. Ex old-world journalist.