Have you ever caught yourself in Pokemon Go fever? Or, maybe you love using some funny filters on Snapchat every now and then? Have you ever wondered what technology these two apps use to present a unique interface?
The answer is Augmented Reality.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented Reality, or abbreviated as AR, is a technology that combines a real environment with virtual objects (2D and 3D) into one output display that becomes a new reality. In other words, AR makes the real-life environment around us into a digital interface by putting virtual objects in real-time. For example, when we are using filters on Snapchat, the AR technology is superimposing real objects (our photos) with virtual information (sounds, images, text), thus resulting in a new reality (filtered photos).
AR can be seen through a variety of experiences. Recent developments have made this technology accessible using as simple as camera-enabled smartphones, which led to development of a wide variety of AR-powered applications. For a more immersive AR experience, advanced hardware like Microsoft HoloLens was also developed.
AR vs VR. What’s the difference?
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are similar in a way their technology alters reality, stemming from the idea of immersing users into a digital environment. Both technologies are also presented via 3D high definition video and audio.
The difference is that AR improves, enhances or expands real life by inserting virtual objects into the user’s real-world environment. It means that AR doesn’t block out the real world or replace it with a digital one. But rather, it lets the real world remain to be seen and only add digital objects or information on top of it. On the other hand, VR creates a completely virtual world that users interact with using devices that isolate them from the real world. In other words, 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 a market to detect the position of physical objects and then determine where to put virtual ones.
Why using Augmented Reality for business?
AR blends the lines between the physical and digital world. It offers a new way of interacting with customers, colleagues, and the world around us. With all interactive experiences it can create, AR has an enormous market potential that is only in the initial stages of unlocking.
AR is the next big thing that will become an economic driver for the tech industry. According to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc, the global augmented reality market size estimates to reach USD 340.16 billion by 2028. The wide use of smartphones and wide-scale adoption of AR in mobile games are also expected to drive the growth of the market. Today, people are increasingly adopting the AR-supported online platforms for shopping, education, and social media interactions, among other purposes, for a better immersion experience. The technology is anticipated to register a CAGR (Compound annual growth rate) of 43.8% from 2021 to 2028, with the Asia Pacific regional market expected to have the highest CAGR over the forecast period.
How can businesses adopt Augmented Reality?
The potential of AR to provide business solutions might have been unthinkable just a few years ago. However, this technology keeps evolving at a fascinating speed. Here are five examples of how AR technology is shaping the way we do business.
Any smartphone or tablet can be an AR platform to create a shopping environment for customers, whether that’s within a traditional brick-and-mortar or online store. An online-only retailer could use AR technology to create a 3D shop that virtually replicates the experience of shopping in a traditional store. By giving customers the ability to try an item before buying, this experience will improve their satisfaction and reduce costly returns.
AR application company Marxent helped Harley-Davidson create an iPad app that provides a virtual shopping experience, giving customers the ability to try out different body types, seats, lights and other options for a truly custom bike design.
Training and education
Using AR to train employees or students at any level of education provides an immersive, multisensory experience that’s often more effective than traditional methods such as lectures, flashcards and textbooks. The result is a greater depth of training and quicker mastery.
Bringing AR technology into a classroom can make training and education more engaging and interactive. With creativity, this technology will 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.
AR has a lot in store for tourism industry 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 has 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.
From helping patients identify and describe their symptoms better, with apps like EyeDecide that can show an impact of, for instance, cataracts 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.
Design and modeling
AR can be used as an aid to early-stage product design and development, giving designers a precise view of product form and function. AR app company Augment implemented an end-to-end AR solution for Watermark Products, a leading supplier of inflight products for the airline industry. Using Augment’s plugin, designers visualize product mockups at scale using tablets. Rather than creating costly prototypes, they can give clients an AR experience that depicts side-by-side comparisons of new and old products, allowing the clients to quickly understand the impact of the proposed new products.