Augmented reality, or AR, may seem like something from the future, but it’s already here and changing the way we live. If you aren’t familiar with AR, it’s defined as the merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real-time (Techopedia). In other words, augmented reality brings real-world elements into your smartphone or tablet screen so that they appear to interact with each other in new ways.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality is a technology that combines the digital world with the physical one and provides users with an immersive experience. Augmented reality does not replace the physical world; it enhances it. Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality augments the real world with digital objects, video, audio, and other visuals. AAR doesn’t require a headset or glasses to be viewed by someone on the other side of the globe. It can be accessed through any device, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops. It’s also accessible in two different ways: either through external devices (e.g., a phone) or through wearable devices (e.g., smart glasses). With wearables, you can use your hands to manipulate things you see in the augmented environment without having to touch them. When designing these devices, it is important to keep in mind how much people will want to interact with what they are seeing.
For example, if we design AR for a travel app that shows tourist destinations around the world, some people may want to explore each destination more closely and will want the ability to view 3D models from every angle. Other people may just want information about hotels near those destinations so they can quickly find lodging close by and move on.
The Basics of Augmented Reality
Augmented reality (AR) is projected to become the next big thing. The technology blends computer-generated 3D images with live, conventional footage to create hyper-realistic interactive experiences. One area where augmented reality is seeing success right now is marketing and advertising. For example, Lowe’s has started using AR technology on shelves in their stores so shoppers can visualize what their furniture would look like in their homes before they buy it. Another retailer, IKEA, launched an app that lets customers see how new pieces of furniture will fit into their homes without having to buy anything.
These are just two examples of how retailers are using AR for marketing purposes, but there are many more ways that this technology can be applied. Below are some of the most common uses of augmented reality in the industry.
How AR can be used to improve customer service
A customer has contacted your company; let’s say they have an issue with their account. When the company representative goes to look at the account, they find that the customer actually has an issue with another account and then use AR on their mobile device to call up all of the other relevant accounts in front of them. Then, when they zoom in and tap to select any one of those other accounts, it takes them directly into that account instead of having to call or email support for a separate inquiry about another problem.
The rep can also help guide the customer by using AR to draw circles around which specific information is needed from each account. As soon as they confirm what information needs to be looked at, both parties see everything pop up right there on their screens—no more back-and-forth emails or phone calls! And if there are certain aspects of the accounts you don’t want to be exposed, like banking details, you can limit what data is shown by dragging blue lines across fields as desired.
How AR can be used to Improve Sales
Augmented reality is a great way to highlight the customer experience. The best place to start is on the showroom floor. Customers want to see what they’re buying and how it fits into their lives, which AR makes possible with technologies like Microsoft HoloLens.
Thus, an organization should utilize augmented reality as soon as possible to provide customers with the most information about the product as possible. For example, when designing an interior layout, an architect can use a virtual environment that will allow clients to explore 3D models of furniture and products within their homes before purchasing anything. With this technology, clients can see potential products without any risk or commitment while also having control over design elements.
How AR can be used to Increase Productivity
At first glance, augmented reality might seem like another distraction. But consider how AR can help you get more done! Think about all the information your hands are currently being asked to carry and use at work, whether it’s sitting at your desk scrolling through emails or making copies on the copier machine. With augmented reality, that data is right there in front of you, projected onto a flat surface, so you don’t have to look down or pull up screens. Imagine copying multiple sheets of paper with one hand while using the other hand to type an email. or setting a meeting reminder while simultaneously checking voice mail or looking up contact information.
Real-life Examples of how Businesses are using AR today
Studies show that augmented reality has the potential to create trillions of dollars worth of value. For those who are not quite up to speed, “augmented reality” means the computer is used to alter what we see in the real world. Unlike virtual reality, which blocks out everything but the digital world, augmented reality only replaces portions of our vision with digitally generated imagery. A good example is an app called Ikea Place, where you can virtually place furniture from their catalogs that analyzed your living room (or wherever you might be).
Where can your Business use AR?
Your company can use augmented reality to provide customer support, save time and resources with inventory check-ins, enhance customer experiences, or replace video conference meetings. Remember that there are various purposes for AR, which is different from virtual reality. It may be used to supplement the real world or create an immersive experience.
So how can augmented reality be used by your business? And does your organization need a strategy for it? Yes! One possible way that your company can use AR is to provide customer support.
What should you consider before diving into an AR project?
- Determine the business need and what success looks like to you. To figure out if augmented reality is right for your organization, identify the business need and come up with some quantifiable benchmarks of success. Ask yourself: What are we trying to accomplish here, and what does success look like? These may include increased conversion rates, higher customer engagement rates, or increased foot traffic in brick-and-mortar stores. Once you have an idea of what success looks like, it will be easier to determine how AR can help achieve that goal.
- Assess where AR can best serve your needs and where it cannot.
- Learn about the different types of AR technologies available.
- Consider ROI for any AR project.
Where should you start with your AR project?
The first thing to do with Augmented reality is analyze the device you are using, as each one operates differently. Have somebody on your team try it out if possible.
While there is no specific set of steps you can take to plan an AR project, there are some considerations you need to keep in mind. What data will be necessary for this application? What platforms will this app be available on? What information should users see when they open the app or scan a certain location? How will users interact with this app? Will this app provide services or give information about something else entirely? All these questions and more should be considered before starting any augmented reality project.