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How can Augmented Reality (AR) be used for business?

How can Augmented Reality (AR) be used for business?

Augmented reality blends out the line between the real and the digital world and gives customers the possibility to be more intensely and vividly involved. The core advantage of this technology is that the hardware (phones and tablets) is available for everyone, and the usage is intuitive and understanding.  The latest market study provided by Juniper Research shows that total AR market value will increase up to $26.1 billion by 2022. Due to the global technology explosion, software improvements and the prevalence of wearable devices, Juniper predicts extending interest in the features of Augmented Reality among businesses. 


AR benefits for business

All companies share a common goal of getting customers to use their service or purchase their product. To do this, businesses have to educate users about their products, engage meaningfully with potential clients and create lasting connections for future commerce.  AR is able to satisfy all these needs since its framework is very intuitive in nature and operates simultaneously with real-time environment. Augmented reality more deeply engages customer senses by immersing them in enhanced environments via digitally altered venues particularly involving visual, auditory and touch. With the mobile versions of Google’s ARCore and Apple’s ARKit, millions of users are walking around with an augmented reality-capable device in their pockets. 

What industries use Augmented Reality?

Immersive technologies offer new opportunities for a vast amount of markets and spheres, among them design, e-commerce, real estate, healthcare, and even manufacturing. Let’s take a deep-dive into use-cases, which we are considered as the most promising ones.

Augmented Reality in job training

Traditionally, AR and VR are preferred by employers around the world for hands-on training and education processes. In the hospitality industry, service staff is guided on how to properly complete their duties. For complex manufacturing scenarios, factory workers trial equipment maintenance using AR, without any real risk. For example, to increase the efficiency of installing its devices, CISCO ordered a customized AR app to let technicians launch virtual demonstrations straight from the devices. Due to this innovation technicians could see how to install various parts of the machine in an AR overlay on top of a physical device. Experience eliminated the need to read manuals that increased installation efficiency by 30% and accuracy on first use by 90% according to CISCO research.

Augmented Reality in e-commerce

The main reason businesses are using AR in e-commerce is that it generates greater engagement with their brand. Surveys show the likelihood of a successful online sales conversion is about 40% if a consumer is able to view the product in AR. For this reason, retailers have already integrated AR technology into customers’ in-store experiences. For instance, Lacoste created the LCST Lacoste AR mobile app that allows users to try on shoes virtually. So, prospective customers aren’t just looking at your content – they’re interacting with it.

One more example: in 2017 L’Oreal and Perfect Corp. announced their partnership and integrated makeup collections from L’Oréal brands worldwide in AR app called YouCam Makeup. This collaboration offers hundreds of millions of customers the opportunity to virtually experience makeup collections, learn about the products, and shop through the app or instore. This made the app incredibly popular, with over 3,6 millions of users on Android and over 65,3K ratings in the App Store.

Augmented Reality in healthcare

Immersive technologies have an aptitude for changing medical and healthcare industry. From brain operations to reconnecting blood vessels, research groups around the world are applying AR solutions at work. In addition, AR is used for teaching medical university students. Human Anatomy Atlas is an app that lets students explore the body to understand how it works. The app shows 3D models of a human body and allows students to rotate and interact with them. Human Anatomy Atlas provides more than 10,000 anatomical models and multi-language description. The app also has a test bank for quizzing to help students check and improve their knowledge.

Augmented Reality in marketing

Companies are developing computer-generated graphics that are superimposed with real-life scenes to add a new dimension to marketing. When considering mobile AR, the market value for marketing and advertising is worth over $1.09bn. The virtual try-before-you-buy approach that shows products in the context of how they will actually be used, is an ideal use case of how AR makes marketing more efficient. In addition to this part, Augmented Reality offers the opportunity to deepen the digital storytelling experience. It definitely helps to satisfy the craving of audiences to get closer to the story.  In cooperation with Historical Museum of the City of Krakow we have launched AR app called Pastguide that creates a 3D visualization of the Main Market Square in Krakow from the times of King Casimir the Great (the 14th century). This project received Galileo Masters award and became popular among tourist service providers.

Augmented Reality in manufacturing

Training, product development, complex assembly, logistics, quality control, maintenance – all of these fields companies are getting benefits from AR implementation due to increasing productivity and reducing errors.

When it comes to warehouse organization, employees have to multitask to manage orders and regular duties. With emerging AR technologies, however, the same workers can simply tap into a connected system that tells them exactly where products and goods are, allowing them to work at a much faster pace. DHL reports that thanks to integrated AR solutions, their employees can simultaneously scan items and register the whole process, which allows updating inventory in real-time. In addition, such systems reduce the amount of time required to train new employees, as well as bridge any language barriers with expat workers.

Thyssenkrupp (German multinational conglomerate) incorporated HoloLens solutions to make the design process more personal for customers and to reduce turnaround time. The digitization of sales and manufacturing has reduced delivery times by 400% due to AR.

Augmented Reality in construction

Advanced construction firms are already using AR in construction modelling to save their time and budget. This technology allows engineers and contractors to build the right thing at the first attempt and helps to significantly improve different aspects of the construction process. Immersive solutions in construction and architecture projects involve placing a 3D model of a proposed design onto an existing space using mobile devices. Moreover, it doesn’t require high costs. AR applications are accessible for companies of different project budgets and requirements due to ready-to-use apps such as Virtualist developed by our team. By installing the app on the smartphone or tablet, you can hold it in indoor and outdoor locations and prototype your imported designs and created scenes. 

The most important benefit of using AR is the opportunity to give a client a sense of scale that isn’t possible on a computer monitor or paper printed drafts. Additional benefits of using AR in construction and architecture can be found in our blog.

How will augmented reality (AR) affect your business?

According to Digi-Capital’s recent report, AR applications can reach 3,5 billion installed base within 5 years. With the evolution of mobile apps, we can see virtual images in real context while also staying connected with these objects, and interacting with them. All you need is a camera of your device.

Here are a number of advantages that businesses can derive by using AR apps:

  • since the technology is still new and noticeable, it allows you to surprise customers and attract more attention to your company;
  • more active interaction with the brand due to the high interactivity and involvement level;
  • the possibility of a higher level of personalization compared to using the usual content;
  • increasing employee training effectiveness through work processes visualization;
  • sales growth due to eliminating doubts regarding the practicability of purchase.
What is Augmented Reality?

What is Augmented Reality?

In simple words, it’s the blending of digital elements – like objects, text, or sounds – with the real world around you. Augmenting your reality. It’s sometimes called Mixed Reality too. It may show overlays on phone screens to help you find directions from street views. Or superimpose a virtual dragon next to you. Augmented Reality applications span commercial industries such as education, architecture, communications, medicine, and entertainment. Let’s say, you want to redesign your apartment but you’re not sure how to go about it. Special home decorating apps allow you to look through your phone camera and virtually add new furniture at will.

Examples of Augmented Reality use cases in the Virtualist collaboration software

Is it the same as Virtual Reality?

No. Virtual Reality creates a fully digital world around you when you strap on the VR headset on your head. It fully replaces and immerses you inside the digital scene and it’s not letting any real-world objects in. That’s why it’s hard to walk in VR headsets. I have written a separate guide about Virtual Reality.

What augmented reality devices can I use?

Smartphones and tablets

Mobile devices are much more powerful nowadays. They contain the necessary components for AR. Cameras, sensors such as an accelerometer, GPS, and a solid-state compass. You can also use the tablet as an AR device. They come with similar hardware for smartphones and have larger screens, so the effects can be more exciting, although that also means they are less portable. Android phones are powered by ArCore. It’s the AR technology developed by Google. It does not require additional sensors in your smartphone. You can check if your device is compatible with ArCore here. If you own iOS device from Apple you need to use a device compatible with ArKit. It’s the augmented reality technology developed by Apple.

Laptops and desktop computers

These devices can also use Augmented Reality through a webcam. Due to the lack of portability and motion sensors, AR computer applications are a bit more limited, but you can add digital effects and animations to video calls.

Eyeglasses, contact lenses, displays

While headsets are not required for AR, there are some more specific devices on the market that directly adds AR visuals to your view. One of the most popular is Google Glass. Devices like this one include eyewear that employs cameras to intercept the real world view, and then project AR imagery through or reflect off the surfaces of the eyewear lens pieces.

How can augmented reality be used for business?

Augmented Reality creates opportunities for businesses to reach their target audience in real-time. Businesses that apply AR to their products gain direct visual engagement with their audiences. This means customers can experience your products or services as they are meant to be. Currently, in the retail sector famous brands (such as IKEA, L’oreal and others) are using AR as a powerful tool to connect with their clients meaningfully and creatively. A special AR app enables Cheddar’s headline news networks to deliver live video feeds into a 3D space for users, who are able to place those anywhere in their surroundings. This new form of marketing is not only effective but it is also budget-friendly in comparison with traditional forms of marketing. Additionally, some companies are starting to build physical products with AR technology baked in. 

How is augmented reality used in education?

AR in education provides unlimited opportunities for teaching and learning. Instead of remaining passive recipients, they become active learners who can interact with their learning environment. The technology provides an absolutely real psychological experience and helps to get a true virtual experience that can be realized in real life: one of the Canadian technology companies turned the wall of the school gym into a ball game by adding an AR layer to it. Then the children can throw balls at the wall to hit the floating figures and, as a result, enjoy physical exercises.

Can I use AR for training?

AR allows companies to develop trainings that are appropriate for each employee, and allow them to develop competence and confidence in their role. CAE Healthcare was integrating Microsoft’s HoloLens into its training programs, allowing physicians to practice complex medical procedures in a 3D environment. By using multi-layered graphics, even the most complex processes and methods can be simplified for the trainees. If it’s not enough, have a look at this example. Based on decades of perceptual-motor research in psychology, researchers at the Aviation Research Laboratory used AR in the form of a flight path in the sky to teach participants how to land an airplane using a flight simulator. 

Augmented reality games

An augmented reality game often superimposes a precreated environment on top of a user’s actual environment. Traditional gaming systems like Xbox or PlayStation require special equipment while AR offers gamers mobility and makes every space a battlefield or playground. The game itself can be as simple as a game of virtual checkers played on a table. Probably, one of the most famous examples of AR is the mobile app Pokemon Go, which was released in 2016 and quickly became an inescapable sensation. In that game, players locate and capture Pokemon characters that pop up in the real world—on the street, in a cafe or your kitchen.

What is AR software?

  • Marker-based AR applications are based on image recognition. They use a camera of a portable device to detect specific patterns or markers, such as QR codes or images. Once the pattern is recognized, the application superimposes digital information on this marker.
  • Location-based apps don’t need markers; instead, they use GPS, accelerometers or other detectors to establish your location and create AR objects.

Various kits for developing Augmented Reality are available on the market, so the choice depends on your needs. From the user’s point of view, ready-to-use applications and platforms that are offered for creating AR scenes can be divided into 2 functional categories:

How to develop AR software?

The implementation of Augmented Reality in consumer products requires consideration of the application design and the related constraints of the technology platform. If you want to create AR software from the very beginning, you should learn about three-dimensional modeling, game engines, know programming languages (e.g. C / C++ / C #) and how to create user interfaces for users in 3D. So it requires specific knowledge. That’s why for those who want to try AR-development for the first time, the best options are AR SDKs, which are easy to use and can be expanded with new features offered by developers. Before choosing the right toolkit, you must include many criteria:

  • the purpose of a project,
  • cost of implementation,
  • supported platforms,
  • 3D image recognition,
  • tracking support,
  • cloud storage,
  • geolocation.

In general, the 2010s witnessed huge strides in AR, that’s why by 2021, experts predict that we will see major growth in this industry with gaming companies focusing most of their budget and energies exactly on AR-based products. 

Investing in Augmented and Virtual Reality. Is it profitable?

Investing in Augmented and Virtual Reality. Is it profitable?

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) is changing our daily lives faster than it could be predicted. According to market intelligence firm IDC, worldwide expenses on AR and VR products and services will be up 69% this year, and the total annual growth over 5 years will increase to 70% from 2017 to 2022. So, what else do the forecasts tell us and why should businesses take a closer look at XR (Extended Reality)?

While consumer spending on XR is and will remain the largest part of the market, it is expected that it will grow at a slower pace than retail, manufacturing, government, and wholesale technology spending. Nevertheless, Virtual and Augmented Reality has the potential to become the next big computing platform, according to Goldman Sachs Research. They predict that the industry can reach a value of $80 billion a year ($35 billion software and $45 billion hardware) by 2025. Despite the fact that forecasts in different sources may vary, they all show the main  – a huge increase in the next 10 years, and all studies show a cumulative annual growth rate of 40–80%.

Bigger players – bigger bets

Many innovative projects have shown the world that Extended Reality has a good commercial value and potential for the future. Large enterprises are witnessing the growth of AR/VR and planning to develop their future projects. The list of companies that invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the development of AR and VR, includes the leading global corporations: Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Sony, Samsung and others.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has often expressed his interest in Augmented Reality and his belief that the technology would eventually shape our lives. Recently the company applied for a patent on a mixed reality headset that includes a number of sensors to track eyes, gestures, and facial expressions.It’s just one of Apple patents, and like others, it indicates that Apple is broadly examining how AR might translate from phones to glasses. In March, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo estimated that the company may start to produce its headset by Q4 of this year, and then publicly introduce it in 2020. 

Worldwide race

Tim Cook and Western companies are not the only one to see huge potential in Extended Reality. Improvements in technology have significantly affected the development of Augmented Reality and Virtual reality in areas around the world, including in the Asia-Pacific region.

Digi-Capital’s AR/VR Analytics Platform that tracked over $5.4 billion AR and VR investments in the last 12 months to Q2 2019, shows that Chinese companies were raising  2,5 times more dollars (or yuan) from their North American colleagues. Global deal value, or dollars invested, was up in the second quarter of 2019 over the previous one, driven by large late-stage deals on computer vision/AR.

Although the US beat China in VR/AR revenue last year, forecasts indicate China may surpass the States soon. The research mentioned before from Digi-Capital also shows that by 2022, China could take more than $1 of every $5 put toward these technologies. It is worth noting that governmental support is propelling this AR and VR growth in China. Last year the Chinese government has released a document entitled “Guiding Opinions of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Accelerating the Advancement of the Development of the Virtual Reality Industry”.  Briefly, it states that the government wants to see growth in all the areas that concern VR. It means that here we are not only talking about manufacturing headsets but also about innovating the technologies for what concerns data processing, 3D modeling, motion capture, localization and so on.

Although China has a leading position in the Asia-Pacific region, other countries (e.g. South Korea or Singapore) are not content with trailing far behind.

Why should brands invest in VR?

There is no doubt that VR and AR will continue to grow, and brands that ignore this fact will be at risk of being left behind pretty soon. Extended Reality provides businesses with a technology that assists with a variety of internal and external tasks: helps them save on an array of business costs, enhances marketing campaigns, and provides new visualization and design opportunities for product development. According to research provided by Accenture, XR is boosting employees’ productivity through human + machine collaboration.

On average, 21% of working time could be augmented by the use of XR.

As you can see below, this share can increase to 30% in healthcare and social services, manufacturing and construction.

Source: Accenture

If you’re doubting  how beneficial investment in AR and VR could be to your business, consider the following ways you’ll get a return on those types of investment:

  • Improve remote collaboration and business meetings. With access to VR technology, employees and business partners no longer have to be connected with geographic boundaries. The technology allows employees who are working remotely to be in the same virtual room, which increases employee engagement, communication and collaboration. It also expands the opportunities available to enterprises and reduces/eliminates the cost of moving.
  • Strengthen consumer relationships.  Virtual reality enables an entirely new interpretation and expression of the brand thanks to building deeper levels of human connection and cultural empathy. Touchstone Research put it in numbers. Brands that invest in VR are more likely to go viral. Brands that invest in VR are more likely to become viral. 81% of consumers using VR tell their friends about it. On YouTube, 360 videos have a browsing speed of 28.81% higher than fixed video. The clickthrough rate for VR reaches 4.51%, compared to 0.56% CTR for fixed video.
  • Take prototyping to the next level. Consider how much of your budget goes to supplying or replacing expensive hardware for employees. VR can eliminate these expenses by allowing you to create a virtual office with screens, boardrooms, and presentation spaces.  Proper software will definitely reduce your operational costs and time. For example, Virtualist app allows creating a shared virtual space just in 3 steps.

    In architecture and design, where the decision-making process is crucial, virtual models and prototypes bring several advantages. While standard 2D designs may look acceptable on paper, nothing compares to giving clients a virtual tour where they can experience an interactive visual representation of the final product, and see the real scale. By using it at a proposal meeting, a designer or engineer can put the client into VR or AR and walk them through the critical aspects of the design. 

As VR and AR both continue to prove their worth at reducing risks and costs, we are going to notice an increasingly rapid pace of investing in other industries involving work with expensive tools or demanding conditions the coming years.