Augmented reality (AR), a technology that allows digital assets to be superimposed onto real-world environments, is poised to transform the way business is done. It will impact everything from product sales and marketing to how companies can better train their staff.
Learn more about augmented reality, share how businesses are leveraging it today, and look at the future of this exciting technology.
What is augmented reality?
AR is the use of technology to add an artificial digital quality to real objects. Any time you use software or devices to add new sights, sounds, or sensory stimuli to something visible, it's AR.
The Pokémon Go game is a famous example of AR in pop culture. Players try to find wild Pokemon using their smartphones. When you find a character, it will appear on your smartphone screen overlaid with the nearby environment, as shown below.
Find Pokémon in Pokémon Go's AR+ mode.Source: Tumis
Another AR example you may be familiar with is buying glasses online. Many optical stores, such as Vision Express in the UK and EyeBuyDirect in the US, offer a selection of glasses to choose from on their websites. If you want to “try it on,” the site will ask for permission to use your webcam. If you allow this, the glasses will be placed on your face and you will be able to see how they look.
Additionally, some app-based image filters are AR-based. His one infamous and viral example of this AR use occurred when attorney Rod Ponton participated in his Zoom hearing in the 394th Judicial District Court of Texas. He forgot to turn off his webcam filter, so instead of seeing his image, other participants interacted with a talking white kitten.
Smart helmets for the construction industry use AR to improve safety and productivity by warning workers about dangerous conditions and sending alerts when needed.
How does augmented reality work?
Augmented reality may seem futuristic, but the underlying technology is relatively familiar and straightforward. AR combines computer vision, mapping, localization, and depth tracking technologies to enable platforms to capture, analyze, and transmit data. This data is the basis for an enhanced sensory experience.
Depth tracking is one of the most interesting augmented reality features. Through depth tracking technology, the AR platform can tell how close it is to an object or how close it is. Without this functionality, AR use cases such as industrial field service and 3D online shopping would not work.
However, mapping may be the most important AR feature. This is the technology that allows you to do things like put his AR glasses on your face on an optician's website.
How companies are using augmented reality
AR is already changing the face of online advertising and marketing, and multiple use cases are currently abounding. Today, we're sharing his top five ways businesses are adopting AR.
AR helps retailers give customers a way to try out products before purchasing. Any smartphone or tablet can become an AR platform that creates a unique shopping environment for customers, both in-store and online. Here are some examples of how AR can be used in retail.
- Sephora: Sephora has an app that allows customers to see how their makeup products will look on them.
- Wayfair: Wayfair uses AR via iOS devices to show customers how furniture will look in their home.
- Bentley: British luxury car manufacturer Bentley offers an AR visualizer app that allows you to explore the interior and exterior of its new luxury SUV models and take them for a test drive. You can create a custom version of your vehicle in the app and schedule an appointment with your local dealer.
- Hotel and Spa: At luxury hotels and spas, prospective guests can use AR to check out facilities and amenities. For example, you can walk around the Hotel Adlon Kempinski in Berlin, check out the menu, inspect the rooms and see if it meets your expectations. Travel industry experts expect the use of AR in this field to increase significantly in the coming years.
Businesses use AR in their mobile device marketing strategies to provide prospective customers with a fun experience, encouraging them to learn more about their products and interact with their business.
2. Industrial services
Help Lightning provides AR-powered remote support to clients around the world. Before using Help Lightning's products, one of her clients, BUNN, was finding it cost-prohibitive to provide field service to their customers. However, they are now making profits from these activities.
BUNN is currently using AR to provide field technicians with real-time support in the field, including live video assistance, access to a comprehensive knowledge base, and customer service history. Field technicians can send video streams from the site and initiate three-way communication with other field technicians and engineers. Customer satisfaction has increased and engineers are freed up to handle more day-to-day tasks.
Using AR in the field improves safety, reduces disruption, and takes pressure off engineers who can't be experts in every technology or infrastructure. AR can power a mobile workforce and connect workers to experts around the world.
3. Design and modeling
Companies often use AR for 3D modeling in the design process of things like homes and cars. AR accelerates the creation and development of early-stage products, giving designers an accurate view of the product's form and function. AR-powered product packaging is also growing in popularity, impressing customers with videos, 3D models, audio, and linked text.
AR app company Augment uses an end-to-end AR solution for Watermark 1980, a leading supplier of in-flight products for the airline industry.
Using Augment's technology, Watermark 1980 designers used tablets to visualize product mockups at scale for airline customers. Instead of creating expensive prototypes, designers use AR to compare proposed new products side-by-side with existing products. This model allows decision makers to understand the impact of proposed new products.
The future of user experience design will likely involve artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and virtual reality.
4. Training and education
AR-based training initiatives provide immersive, multisensory experiences that are more effective than traditional lectures, flashcards, and textbooks. The result is deeper training, faster learning, and improved transfer of learning.
For example, AR is gaining momentum in medical education. At Case Western Reserve University, health education students can take his 3D Holographic Anatomy program. The program allows Microsoft HoloLens wearers to see virtual corpses and delve deeper into the human body. This technology saves dozens of hours compared to traditional cadaver labs. Case Western envisions AR applications across a wide range of educational research fields.
Additionally, companies like Walmart and Chipotle are using AR to train their employees. This technology helps you invest in employee training without risking costly real-world mistakes.
5. Repair and maintenance
In 2015, Hyundai became the first mainstream automaker to launch an AR owner's manual. Consumers can use their smartphones and tablets to get how-to information about repairs, maintenance, and vehicle features. The app includes how-to videos, 3D overlay images that appear as users scan different areas of the vehicle (such as the engine bay), and dozens of informational guides. Other manufacturers are following suit, most notably Kia Motors.
With AR, even inexperienced people can identify problems and perform repairs by following step-by-step instructions using AR overlays, reducing downtime and related costs and increasing customer satisfaction.
What is the difference between augmented reality and virtual reality (VR)?
Augmented reality improves, enhances, and extends real life by inserting virtual objects into the user's real-world environment. In contrast, VR creates a completely virtual world that users interact with using devices isolated from the real world. While VR is grabbing the headlines, researchers say AR will become a bigger market over time.
Manufacturers are also using VR technology in a variety of ways, including improving inventory management and designing prototypes. VR is also very effective for helping manufacturers plan factory layouts.
The future of augmented reality in business
AR is predicted to become an economic driver for the technology industry. According to a study, the value of the global augmented reality industry in 2023 reached $56.3 billion. Forecasters predict that amount could reach nearly $1.2 trillion by 2032.
But which vertical markets will adopt this new technology? Industry expert Eric Abruzzese, Research Analyst at ABI Research, says there are several revenue-generating sectors, including education, gaming, healthcare, industrial, and retail. It said that the amount would be distributed to key areas.
“Thanks to more progressive technology adoption habits and strong use case applicability, we expect revenue to primarily favor the healthcare and industrial sectors, which account for approximately 54 percent of the market.” said Abbruzzese.
Max Freedman contributed to this article. Interviews with sources were conducted for a previous version of this article.