For those that may be unfamiliar with Augmented Reality, here’s a quick crash course. Simply put, AR places digital information on top of the real world around us. With Virtually Reality, on the other hand, is completely immersive, users typically put on some sort of headset and enter and entirely new digital world. AR is similar in a sense, and the two are often confused, but they have less in common than you’d think. For a mainstream, Hollywood example of AR, think of Tony Stark’s helmet in Iron Man. The world around him isn’t obstructed, it’s enhanced with data visualization overlayed onto it.
Generally speaking, AR has a lot more potential to be a utility than VR, even though some of its most popular examples, like Pokémon GO, are in the gaming and entertainment space. The technology is already being used for a variety or purposess in industries like healthcare, manufacturing, and retail. It’s estimated that the combined global spending on AR and VR with hit $160B by the end of 2023. Wide adoption of AR enterprise solutions is on the horizon in many sectors and it might be applicable for your business.
There are several ways to implement AR. At T R I M our focus is implementation via mobile devices like smart phones but AR is often associated with wearables too. Headsets like Microsoft HoloLens have been in the spotlight for many years now, some more successful than others. Google Glass, for example, was a total flop for consumers. Interestingly enough though, the Enterprise version is still used in many sectors today, further validating the notion that AR is ripe for enterprise solution applications. AR products can also vary in their interfaces, some use voice commands, some use handheld controllers. Most often at T R I M, we’re using mobiles devices as the viewport and the interface, though we’re very capable of incorporating voice, given our experience with Alexa Skills and Google Actions.
We believe that, in many cases, mobile devices are the best medium for AR due to accessibility. For some context, more than 81% of adults in the US have a smart phone. Wearables like headsets are still viewed as novelties by most consumers and they can be cost prohibitive. Why not meet your users where they are and make an AR product for smartphones and tablets? Sure, they aren’t hands-free but they’re much more common than headsets.
So, what are some use cases for AR? Let’s look at some examples. In industries like manufacturing, automotive, pharma, and the military use augmented reality to add an extra layer of information and insight to their work environments. AR can help with inventory management, product assembly, training staff, and more. In the retail space we’ve seen furniture companies build products that let users test out furniture by placing photorealistic mockups in the users’ apartments via AR. Fashion and beauty companies have created apps that let you try on clothing and makeup to avoid buyers’ remorse.
Now, you definitely shouldn’t build an AR product just because it’s cutting edge. Remember when every company thought they needed an app? We don’t want a repeat of that. However, there’s a good chance your customers have a problem or two that could be solved with an augmented reality solution on their phones or tablets. Plus, as headsets become cheaper and the technology improves, they will likely become more widely adopted. If you think an AR product could be a good fit for your business and customers, drop us a line here and we’ll get back to you in no time. Let’s build something great together.