When you hear the term “Augmented Reality (AR)” you might think of the Pokemon Go phenomenon a few years ago. AR technology has been around for some time, particularly in the entertainment and gaming industries, however industries are catching on to the value that AR can bring to their area of work.
What is Augmented Reality (AR)?
AR allows users to see and hear projected “virtual” images, sounds or information overlaid upon their actual real-world experience.
This is typically achieved using a smartphone, a tablet or using a form of “smart glasses”. The smart glasses allow the user to have their hands free while seeing the AR images projected into their actual view. Using smartphones or tablets, virtual images are projected onto a live camera view. For example, as the smartphone is scanned along a geographical area, the user might see the underground pipe locations superimposed on the real image, in order to locate the services before digging.
Other forms of augmented reality include virtual sound when AR earbuds are used, for applications such as real-time translations.
How is AR used across industries?
In the marketing and advertising fields, AR can enhance the experience of potential customers. In some cases, bus stop ads have "come to life" when viewed through an app on passengers' smartphones, personalising the experience. Even AR linked business cards or brochures can enhance a static object into a dynamic experience, bringing up alternative contact options, further information or video when scanned with a smartphone.
As applied to the retail industry, AR allows customers to see the product they want to buy online in 3D and even compare it to other products in 3D. Customers can “try on” the product before they buy with AR applications, such as clothing, make-up or try a piece of furniture in different positions in their lounge room.
In manufacturing, AR is predicted to become more widely utilised, helping in jobs related to physical labour, guiding and stepping through a physical process with the technician or engineer in real-time. The auto industry have started utilising AR with manuals that give mechanics and car-owners the ability to see where and how a repair should be carried out, all through the screen of their smartphone.
Remote tech support via AR offers the possibility of more interactive customer support and can allow users to solve the problems for themselves, rather than waiting for a physical visit from the tech support.
With so many people owning smartphones already, it is easy to understand why AR applications are predicted to increase rapidly in the next few years, changing the experience of consumers, and other industries alike. In many cases, AR apps can be written and loaded onto a smartphone very easily, however the more complex the virtual environment and interaction with this environment is, naturally, the higher the cost of the project.
How can your business utilise AR?