The word “augment” means to add or enhance. Augmented reality is an enhanced reality, which is created by overlapping natural world with a virtual world to make a better experience for the user. Both the environments, natural and virtual, exist harmoniously with each other creating a better and an improved reality, which helps the user in various day-to-day activities. With the help of improved graphics, sound, and touch, what a person sees, hears, and feels is made better. Imagine walking down a street and pointing the phone at an object and all the information needed about the object suddenly pops out of thin air! It will make everything a person looks at a little more interesting. AR (Augmented Reality) is almost like a science-fiction idea turned into a real technology. It is about to bring dramatic changes in countless fields.
The notion of augmented reality has been round for a while now, but recently it has been transformed into a powerful business tool. Starting from the games like Pokemon Go to the image filters on various social media platforms to AR apps for buying and selling products, it has entered various sectors of the market. Incorporating AR in the smartphones has revolutionised the mobile experience altogether. The possibility to use AR in mobile platforms and developing AR supporting apps will contribute in expanding the reach of this technology. According to a prominent source, the growth of AR technology is expected to reach $117.4 billion by 2022.
Applications of AR in the field of business are innumerable. Some of these have been implemented, while others still are mere ideas. Especially in retail and industrial applications, AR is already being used.
Advancement in Retail Business
Some retailers have developed AR supporting apps to display and sell their products. Say a person wants to buy a car from a specific company, a newly developed app by that company allows the user to virtually place the car in his/her driveway to analyse the colour, the shape, and various other aspects of the car without even going to the showroom. Similarly, other objects can be looked at, matched with the surroundings, analysed, and then purchased by the consumers from their home itself, without having the need to visit any store. Virtual trial rooms for clothes and accessories, the floor plan of a new apartment a customer wishes to buy; everything can be displayed, viewed or tried on with a great ease and without physically having to go somewhere.
Benefiting Manufacturing and Industrial Sector
In the manufacturing and industrial sector, the workers can wear the glasses to monitor and manage each product from a single desk. AR also enables the feature of pop-up information of an object, whenever a worker looks at it. The defects and problems can be easily scanned, as well as the workers can be assisted with the methods of fixing them. This feature can also be incorporated in maintenance of the already sold products. The customers themselves can fix the product, in case of breakdown or failure, with the help of the assistance provided by user and maintenance manuals that are improved using AR.
Upgrading Marketing Strategies
AR advertisements can have a lot of influence on the decisions of users. Image recognition helps a user to point at any product and all the features and values of the product can be displayed instantaneously. Anything can be virtually projected using AR and hence, the advertisers can project their ad, both online and offline, in an interesting and unique way, moving ahead of their competitors. As it is something new and exciting, AR marketing will attract more number of customers and create the necessary buzz for any product. With the help of AR, advertisers can personalise the marketing schemes for every customer, attracting greater numbers. As AR creates better experience and makes everything more intriguing, customers will visit the app or the website displaying their products more often.
Using AR in the offices and workplaces can transform the scenario of a company completely. The employees will be able to design their cabins and office spaces according to their imagination, virtually; nobody other than themselves will be able to see it. AR glasses can assist in this. This will help to create personalised working environment and hence, provide better work culture and improved employee performance. Digital data, such as emails and digital documents can be arranged and accessed in a more efficient and interesting way. Boardroom meetings with far away clients can be arranged in minimum time, without actually physically being present at the destinations, using virtual projections of all the members. AR can completely remodel the workplaces into something more comfortable and better.
Elevating Education and Training Methods
In educational institutes, the learning experience can be improved and made more real using AR. With the help of AR, medical students can perform dissections with more accuracy and astronauts can have their first space experience from Earth itself. With doctors being able to see the 3D image of the patients’ internal organs and body conditions, surgeries will become more efficient and less risky.
Betterment in Travel Industry
AR can also benefit tourism industry. Along with showing directions, GPS with AR can provide information about the sightseeing and road signs. Monuments and museums can become more interesting if information about every part of them will be displayed to the tourists along the way.
Enhancing Gaming Experience
Gaming experience is taken to a whole new level with AR, and there is still a lot of scope for enhancement. Game-makers can modify the real world according to their imagination, without any boundaries. The thrill of any game can be increased extensively using AR. Use of 3D images and 360 degree videos can change the world of games completely.
The application areas of AR are nearly endless. AR has gained a lot of popularity and it is expected to be used in the markets on a large scale by the year 2020. It can be used in numerous areas in the practical business environment and some of them are already being implemented. AR can be helpful for businesses to stand out in a unique and intriguing manner, and reach the people in the ways that wouldn’t have been possible before. The world of buying and selling can transform completely with AR. Looking at its fast evolution and development, a lot more interesting changes in the business methodologies can be expected in the coming future. Augmented reality has brought a new wave of technological development with it.