You are shopping for a shirt and trying on a couple to decide which one suits you better. Or taking a tour of an apartment in Porto you want to rent this summer. Or what if you are in the market for a new coffee table and instead of flipping through pictures in magazines, you want to see how it looks in your living room. These are all possible scenarios we might encounter at one point or another. Now imagine you can do it from the comfort of your own home without having to visit any of those places. What’s the catch? AR and VR applications. Today we take a close-up look at the prospects of Augmented Reality in business, its benefits, and ideas for application.
The sibling technologies, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are some of the technology trends that are on everyone’s lips this year. From the Olympics Opening Ceremony to Consumers Electronics Show (CES) last month in Las Vegas where tech giants like Facebook, Google, Lenovo, HTC presented their gears. Predictably, Amazon intends to join the game and is rumored to explore AR, and Samsung has products in the works as well.
The Power of Augmented Reality in Business
AR and VR blend the lines between the physical and digital world. They offer a new way of interacting with customers, colleagues, and the world around us. Often referred to as sister technologies AR/VR have an enormous market potential that is only in the initial stages of unlocking.
Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are presented via 3D high definition video and audio. Both technologies stem from the same idea of immersing users into a digital environment. But while VR is completely immersive, AR only partly overlays virtual objects over the real world. It uses everyday devices, a smartphone or a tablet, and sensors and market to detect the position of physical objects and then determine where to put virtual ones.
Although the augmented reality is still in its infancy, it has been around for a while now. A Survey of Augmented Reality by Ronald T. Azuma that dates back to 1997 goes into full detail about the possible applications of AR. The author detected at least six classes of potential use: medical visualization, maintenance and repair, annotation, robot path planning, entertainment, and military aircraft navigation and targeting.
Twenty-something years later and tech moguls are all in a race to present the best possible AR experience. And while it’s a long way to go until AR and VR rise to their full potential, current technologies give businesses a lot of opportunities to benefit from.
Benefits of Augmented Reality
Though not in its full bloom, augmented reality has a lot to offer. Due to its features, AR in business is considered to be more appealing to the market than virtual reality.
According to Digi-Capital’s recent report, AR applications can reach 3,5 billion installed base and up to $85-90 billion within 5 years. Meanwhile, VR’s numbers are 50-60 million installed base and $10-15 billion.
The reason why Augmented Reality in business is much more successful is because of its ubiquity, while VR is more focused. VR’s main forte is in the fact that it completely immerses a user into virtual reality which makes it an excellent tool for gaming or 3D films. According to the report, Augmenter Reality in business can address the market of smartphones and tablets as they both cannibalize and grow it. The possibilities and fields of augmented reality apps for business are great.
“This is only the beginning of augmented reality applications. Here at Perfectial, we are actively involved in studying and implementing the technology. By using augmented reality we were able to contribute to business applications of ARKit and create a couple of concepts.” says Dmytro Skorokhod, iOS developer, and ARKit expert.
Augmented Reality in Business Uses
Slowly but surely, augmented reality is changing the shape of commerce. Tractica made a prognosis that by 2019 an installed base of actively used augmented reality apps will grow to more than 2.2 billion apps.
Augmented reality can be applied to various industries. One of the most interesting cases come from the following:
In retail augmented reality has myriads of opportunities. Essentially you need to decide whether it will be an in-store or out-of-store experience. The first means that customers will interact with AR within the walls of the store. This could be virtual fitting rooms to help customers decide on the size or color of a product. Out-of-store experience means that your customers don’t have to leave their homes to have an experience. Like Converse The Sampler app that allows customers try on a pair of sneakers virtually to pick a favorite model. EBay Inc. recently announced that it’s working on AR kit to make shopping more fun and efficient. It will, for instance, allow sellers to select the right size of the box for a product by overlaying an image of a box over merchandise.
Since the Internet is a number one place where buyers and renters look for new homes, Augmented Reality in business has a lot to offer for real estate. It can help customers experience homes differently, filter the ones they like and don’t like, and save some time both for clients and realtors. It is a great tool for construction workers as well. They bring the blueprints and images to life for clients to see how their prospective new home might look.
AR empowered interior design applications are here to help make the right decision about the size and style of a new piece of furniture. One of the most popular examples comes from a Swedish retail giant IKEA and its IKEA Place AR app. It makes buying decisions easier by enabling to “try on” their pieces in your room, take photos and videos of the result. It is so precise that you can even see the texture of the furniture.
Tourism and Maps
For tourism, AR has a lot in store as well. Museums that allow more in-depth information about the exhibits or even by overlaying your phone over a skeleton being able to see how a creature looked like. China is among the countries that grasped AR opportunities to create engaging shows and draw tourists. Street signs, road maps that help navigate and explore cities, hotel room tours – the sky’s the limit here.
Training and Education
Bringing AR technology into a classroom can make education more engaging, interactive and make even the most boring subject a bit fun. By downloading and accessing apps on their phones students can get more detailed information or step-by-step instructions and most importantly a better understanding of the subject.
One of the industries that can benefit from the augmented reality is healthcare. From helping patients identify and describe their symptoms better, with apps like EyeDecide that can show an impact of, for instance, cataract on the human eye and thus help a patient understand the symptoms. Or being useful to nurses in finding veins easier, to finally assisting surgeons during procedures – they all seem like great ways of taking advantage of augmented reality.
To further prove that augmented reality in business can virtually disrupt any industry consider Flirtar – first augmented reality-based dating app. It starts like a pretty standard app, you can log in using your social networks, fill out your profile, and start a search. But unlike swipe left/right usual dating apps, you can scan your surroundings to find app users and a dating prospect.
These are only examples of a few industries that can be and are revolutionized by the augmented reality. Augmented reality in business offers possibilities galore and as it will mature the user experience will only be enhanced as well as spheres that can make use of it. The only question is whether you want to be the leader or eventually the follower of the trend.