Augmented Reality’s first killer app…VTO’s

Alan Smithson
5 min readMar 1, 2019


By: Alan Smithson, CEO METAVRSE

By the end of 2019, there will be over 2 billion Augmented Reality (AR) enabled smartphones in the world. Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore are powering new ways for retailers and brands to engage with consumers to help them make better, more effective buying decisions. From trying on glasses to seeing what products will look like in your home, virtual try-on’s (VTO’s) are quickly becoming AR’s first killer app.

UPDATE Feb 20, 2024: Here is a great article on the different VTO’s that are available, pros/cons and when to use which.

MetaVRse 3D Augmented Reality Product Visualizer

“In the future, e-commerce penetration is projected to grow from approximately 10% today to greater than 40% in 2026” — (World Economic Forum, Future of Retail 2017)

Virtual Try-On’s are a new form of augmented reality that put products into context for the buying consumer. As we move to mobile-phone based e-Commerce, retailers, brands and manufacturers have new opportunities to connect with consumers and gain far more information about their buying patterns than print alone could ever do. VTO’s in certain product categories are seeing a direct impact on bottom line sales. Home Decor VTO’s like IKEA’s Place app or Shopify’s 3D platform are already seeing increases in sales and decreases in returns.

Virtual Try-on for glasses

Retailers now have the power to understand the customer journey a little more clearly with digital tools such as virtual, augmented and mixed reality (XR). The data captured by VTO’s goes deeper than any other medium to date. From geolocating the consumer to heat maps of product views to cloud maps of their actual space, the retailer has unprecedented access to the consumer information and in turn, ways to make the experience better.

IKEA Place allows you to virtual try-on your new furniture

“It could eventually be that you put in contact lenses and you don’t need to look at a phone anymore. We’re really right at the beginning of the big bang with AR and understanding just how it can make everyday life better for people.” — Michael Valdsgaard, Leader of Digital Transformation at IKEA

AR is not new, with print and consumer packaged goods companies experimenting with the technology as far back as 2011 (Graphic Arts Article), but there has been many missteps and false starts as the adoption of AR failed to meet expectations. With Apple’s new push into AR and other companies jumping in (Google ARCore, Facebook, Snapchat), the time is now for retailers to start using AR to connect with consumers to increase sales.

Apple CEO, Tim Cook talking about Augmented Reality

The idea that consumers can now try products in their home or on themselves, goes beyond novelty to become a transformational way they purchase things. From sunglasses, jewelry, watches, makeup and shoes to furniture, housewares and backyard renovations, VTO’s are the best way for consumers to make better buying decisions.

Presently, mobile devices account for 19% of all US retail e-commerce sales. This figure is estimated to reach 27% by the end of 2018, which represents 1 out of every 4 US retail e-commerce dollars (Invesp). According to Citi Financial, vCommerce (Virtual, Augmented, Mixed Reality for Retail & eCommerce) is poised to become a $1 trillion dollar industry globally by 2035 (*Citi Financial). With more than half of all internet traffic coming from mobile combined with the fact that mobile eCommerce is growing at an unprecedented rate, AR seems like the perfect storm for retailers.

Market Opportunity for Virtual, Augmented & Mixed Reality (XR) Source: MetaVRse

Consider this; In 2014, mobile commerce made up only 11.6% or $33 billion of the U.S. e-commerce total but is forecasted to reach $284 billion, or 45% of the total U.S. e-commerce market, by 2020.

“vCommerce is estimated to reach $1.3 Trillion by 2035” — Citi Financial GPS Report

Recently, Facebook partnered with Michael Kors to showcase their new 3D programmatic ad campaigns that use advanced facial tracking augmented reality to let you try on a pair of glasses right from your Facebook feed. Snapchat, the preferred social media platform for under 25-year-olds has also entered the game with AR campaigns with Nike and others.

Michael Kors & Facebook Virtual Try-on

Here are some examples of virtual try-on’s in consumer products. You will notice that most of these are rudimentary and some simply don’t work, but these pioneers are creating the groundwork for the next generation of VTO’s to become some of the most powerful tools in a retailers arsenal.

Virtual Try-On Examples:


  1. L’Oreal (Modiface)
  2. YouCam
  3. Sephora Virtual Artist
  4. Cosmo Magazine
Fashion Tech Expert Amanda Cosco trying new hair colours


  1. Amikasa 3D Furniture AR Viewer
  2. Lowes Lil 3D Viewer & Room Designer
  3. IKEA Place AR Product Viewer
  4. Dulux Colour Visualizer — Room Paint AR Visualizer
IKEA Place AR Virtual Try-on (Furniture)


The Author using VTO for glasses
  1. Topology Eyewear
  2. Hakim Optical
  3. Glasses USA
  4. Eyeconic Virtual
  6. JC Penney
  7. Spec Savers
  8. Ray-Ban
  9. Speqs
  10. Clear vision Optical
  11. Kings Children
  12. Warby Parker


VTO Watch (From Parth Anand)
  1. Popsci Apple Watch
  2. Jura Watches
  4. Mode in Motion
  5. Virtual Try
  6. Pansar Augmented Watch


Wanna Kicks AR Shoe VTO
  1. Virtual Shoe Try On Prototype
  2. Shoe Try On Research Paper
  3. Wanna Kicks AR Sneaker Try On


Modiface Nail VTO
  1. Sally Hansen ManiMatch™
  2. Sally Hansen ManiMatch™ (Mashable)
  3. Maybelline Nails
  4. Try-on Guru
  5. Wanna Nails / iOS App
  7. Modiface Nails

As you can see there are already tons of great examples of brands utilizing Augmented Reality (AR) for retail and e-commerce. This is only the very beginning of this technology and how it will be used.

This is why I feel that VTO’s or Virtual Try-On’s are the first KILLER APP for AR!

About MetaVRse

MetaVRse is a leading Virtual, Augmented & Mixed Reality (XR) product development company focused on the business applications of XR technology. CEO Alan Smithson is an XR Advisor to SXSW, TechStars & TKS mentor and a Judge for Auggie Awards. COO Julie Smithson is the President of the VR/AR Association Toronto Chapter.

For more information, visit

Alan Smithson



Alan Smithson

Alan’s purpose in life is to inspire and educate future leaders to think and act in a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable way.