Augmented reality or AR, is an interesting technology that takes computer-generated animations and images and superimposes them on what are described as real-world views. The Pokemon Go game was a mainstream iteration of augmented reality. If you aren’t familiar with the game, players use the cameras on their smartphones to show their surroundings.
They then try to catch the superimposed Pokemon.
Of course, there are lots of applications outside of Pokemon Go as far as augmented reality.
For example, it’s increasingly used in education to show learning materials that are superimposed on real-world views – medical training is a common application of this right now.
The following is an overview of augmented reality and some of the ways it might affect business.
The basics of Augmented Reality
Augmented reality is already here in so many ways, despite the fact that it can sound like a technology of the future.
In addition to Pokemon Go and medical training, the Snapchat app is an example of augmented reality. If you’ve ever used Snapchat, you’ve seen how the different lenses and filters work.
Other examples of AR in daily life include our navigation systems, which show us a route superimposed on top of our live road view, and home stores like IKEA use AR apps so that you can visualize how furniture will look in your home.
There can be confusion between augmented and virtual reality, but the two are distinct from one another.
Virtual reality is the use of computer-generated environments that you can interact with. Augmented reality is not about creating a new environment, but instead adding to what you would normally see in reality.
The history of AR goes back to the 1990s when it was used by fighter pilots so they could see details of altitude, the speed of the plane and direction. A few years later, they were able to use it to show the objectives that were targeted in their field of view.
The now-defunct Google Glass was an example of AR as well. It was a set of glasses that would respond to voice commands and overlay images as well as sounds and videos on the screen.
Research in the area of AR is focusing primarily on wearable devices such as contact lenses and glasses.
Of course, as is so often the case with new technology, there are concerns to be addressed and worked out as far as augmented reality and potential privacy concerns.
So what about the implications of AR in business? Harnessing the power of AR in your business could potentially bring significant competitive advantages, particularly if you’re proactive in doing so.
Employee training and development are providing new ways to implement AR in the workplace and derive big benefits.
With the use of AR, you can improve learner engagement because your employees are interacting and engaging with content more actively, instead of being passive in the learning process.
Learners are immersed in the content, and they can also practice in real-world situations.
This interaction and immersion help boost the retention of information, and it makes abstract or difficult concepts easier to understand.
It also empowers employees to explore the content independently, helping them gain important skills.
The use of augmented reality in health care settings was already touched on, and it can also be used in other industries such as tourism and hospitality, manufacturing, and even customer service.
When you integrate AR into your corporate training program, you’re bringing content and lessons to life in a way that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to. You’re also giving employees the immediate opportunity to apply their new skills so that you can then provide feedback in an environment where it’s safe to fail as part of the learning process.
AR in training lets you deliver uniform and consistent training across locations, even when it comes to the delivery of complex information, and you can do so in a way that minimizes risk to employees and the workplace environment as a whole.
AR provides a lot of new opportunities for retail-based business, whether they’re online, brick and mortar or both.
With AR, you can give customers the opportunity to see how your products are going to work in your life and really interact with those products.
IKEA was mentioned above, and other furniture and home décor retailers are doing similar things with AR.
Customers can upload pictures of their space and then try out different pieces of furniture to see not only how they’ll look but also fit.
You could do similar things with other retail products as well. For example, Harley-Davidson worked to create a tablet-based app that creates a virtual shopping experience, giving customers the ability to try out different bike body types, seats, and other design features.
Recently, Fieldbit, which is a company that specializes in created business-based augmented reality solutions, worked with Israel’s national water company to create AR glasses and a mobile app.
With the use of technology, field engineers could get real-time help from experts or vendors wherever they were in the world.
The AR technology superimposed relevant markings, messages, and diagrams directly onto the engineer’s field of view.
Then, engineers could do the necessary repairs, and their hands remained free because the technology was delivered through smart glasses.
Another example of the creative use of AR was introduced in 2015 by the Hyundai company.
Hyundai launched an owner’s manual using AR. Consumers can use their tablet or smartphone and get information about making their own repairs, doing maintenance, and also optimizing their vehicle features.
The app includes how-to videos with 3D overlay images. The images automatically appear when users scan different parts of their vehicles.
Even someone with little-to-no experience with cars could potentially use the AR owner’s manual and perform repairs, which can help boost customer satisfaction and reduce downtime.
It’s a great time in business to get creative and explore the positive implications AR could have in your organization and your industry.