Say ‘augmented reality’ (AR) and what springs to mind? For many people, minds immediately run to the phenomenal success of Pokémon Go, the location-based smartphone game which launched in 2016. By overlaying the user’s camera view with cute animations of fantasy monsters, Pokémon Go managed to generate more than 500 million downloads by the end of the year. Alternatively, you might think of Snapchat, which has transformed something as simple as the selfie with its cute overlays of animated filters.
But there’s far more to AR than simply layering some design over consumer’s smartphone cameras. Here are five ways in which AR is leading real business transformation.
A new era for CAD
Computer Aided Design (CAD) has long been a key tool across multiple industries, helping designers and engineers to experiment and visualise different options at the click of a button. However, AR can take these processes to the next level, enabling designers to get inside their prototypes, to line up different iterations next to or on top of each other, and to get a far more precise view of what a proposed product looks like and how it works.
The construction industry can use AR in innovative ways before actually putting a tool to the ground. AR overlays can illustrate where pipes and other key infrastructure elements are so that works can be directed around them, or illustrate in a truly 3D, interactive way what a new structure will look like in situ.
Making complex tasks simple
From repairs and maintenance of high-tech equipment, to precision tasks on a complex production line, AR technology can help human operatives to carry out far more sophisticated or delicate work than they might be able to execute alone. AR can, for example, superimpose markings and diagrams onto an operative’s field of vision through smart glasses, enabling them to execute tasks with precision and care. The same technology can be used to bring up instructions manuals or warnings while an operative moves through a workflow. All this improves productivity and efficiency, and provides operatives with the support needed to work across a wider range of technologies or contexts.
Enhancing the shopping experience
Bricks and mortar retailers are under huge pressure to deliver a top-quality customer experience, one which encourages shoppers to visit their premises rather than filling their bags online. AR can offer several ways of building such an experience. Shoppers wandering through a store can scan different items and be presented with styling options which also enable the retailer to cross and up-sell. Virtual fitting rooms can detect different points on the customer’s body in order to align particular garments or accessories on the image and provide a 3D view of what it will look like.
Teaching a lesson
The potential applications for AR in the education sector are extremely diverse. AR apps in conjunction with analogue flashcards have been used to help deaf children learn to communicate. 3D holographic applications can be used to train students more precisely in fields like medicine and engineering. AR, essentially, can deliver more immersive and multi-faceted learning experiences, crucial for appealing to the widest possible range of learners and achieving the best outcomes.