Augmented reality (AR) can add value, solve problems and enhance the user experience in nearly every industry. Businesses are catching on and increasing investments to drive the growth of augmented reality, which makes it a crucial part of the tech economy.
What is augmented reality?
Basically, augmented reality technology takes a real-world environment and adds a computer-generated input to it. The real-world and the augmented environments can then interact together and be digitally manipulated. As augmented reality technology matures, the number of applications continues to grow and can influence our shopping, entertainment, work and more.
When shopping for clothes, shoes, glasses or anything else we’d wear, it’s natural to want to “try it on” before we purchase it. When we’re shopping for furniture or other items for our home, wouldn’t it be great if we could see how the items would look in our home? Now, we can with the help of augmented reality. Since the technology and tools to support AR apps are more ubiquitous than ever, expect AR growth to accelerate. Vyking is one company leading the way for augmented reality in retail. They use it to allow shoppers to “try on” a pair of shoes via their smartphone screen. Converse is another footwear company that uses immersive tech to enable customers to try on kicks from its online catalogue.
WatchBox, a company that buys, sells and trades pre-owned luxury brand watches, turned to augmented reality to diminish the disconnect that often occurred between what a buyer expected to receive and the product that actually arrived. They added augmented reality capabilities to their mobile shopping app that allows customers to “try on” a watch they are interested in purchasing.
While you can find some great deals for glasses and sunglasses online, eyewear is certainly one of those items you want to see how it looks on your face before purchasing it. This is no issue at all with Speqs Eyewear’s app where you can instantly try on any style of eyewear through augmented reality. Using the face-mapping technology of the iPhone X, Warby Parker is even able to recommend styles of frames that would look best on you.
It’s always been hard to visualise what a piece of furniture would look like in your home, so it’s not a big surprise that 60% of customers want to use AR when they shop for furniture. IKEA and Wayfair are just two retailers that are helping customers visualise furniture and products in their home thanks to augmented reality technology. Offering augmented reality can also boost sales: 72% of customers purchased products they hadn’t planned on after using augmented reality while shopping according to the study, “The Impact of Augmented Reality on Retail.”
Construction and Maintenance
In construction, augmented reality allows architects, construction crews, developers and clients to visualise what a proposed design would look like in a space and existing conditions before any construction begins. In addition to visualisation, it can help identify constructability issues on a job that can allow architects and builders to brainstorm solutions before the problem becomes more difficult to resolve after construction begins. Augmented reality can also support ongoing maintenance of buildings and products. Service manuals with interactive 3D animations and other instructions can be displayed in the physical environment via augmented reality technology.
Augmented reality can help provide remote assistance to customers as they repair or complete maintenance procedures on products. It’s also a valuable training tool to help inexperienced maintenance crew complete tasks and find the correct service and parts information when they are on-site.
Travel brands can provide potential visitors with an even more immersive experience from a destination before they travel thanks to augmented reality technology. With AR solutions, agents and destinations can give visitors more information and signposts to their destinations. AR apps can help holidaymakers navigate through resorts and learn about points of interests at destinations.
While there’s still much to explore regarding how augmented reality can support education, the possibilities are significant. EdTech is expected to grow 17% each year to reach $252 billion by 2020, and it can support every age group and education level. Augmented reality could help educators engage students in the classroom with dynamic 3D models, overlays of fun facts and more regarding the topics they are learning about. Visual learners would benefit from the visualisation capabilities of AR that can bring concepts to life (or at least 3D) via digital renderings. Students can access information anywhere and anytime without any special equipment as is the case with Mondly, a language-learning app.
AR can make digital images and critical information available to surgeons in 3D and within their field of view. Surgeons won’t need to look away from the surgical field in order to access crucial information they might require to perform a successful procedure. Startups are building AR technology to support digital surgery, 3D medical imaging, and specific surgeries.
Sygic’s AR feature improves the safety of navigation apps by combining a smartphone’s GPS with AR that guides drivers along a virtual path. It’s available for all Android and iOS users. True AR, offered by Navion, is the first holographic AR navigation system for cars. The system evolves as the environment around the car changes.
There are many ways augmented reality is impacting major industries, and even just the way we are entertained—Snapchat filters anyone?
Bernard Marr is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, and advisor to companies and governments. He has worked with and advised many of the world's best-known organisations. LinkedIn has recently ranked Bernard as one of the top 10 Business Influencers in the world (in fact, No 5 - just behind Bill Gates and Richard Branson). He writes on the topics of intelligent business performance for various publications including Forbes, HuffPost, and LinkedIn Pulse. His blogs and SlideShare presentation have millions of readers.