Augmented reality (AR) is making an appearance in everyday life. You’ve probably pulled up an app at the movies to play along with an activity or hovered your smartphone over an ad to have it come to life. Games such as Pokemon Go became trendy at lightning speed. What was once the stuff of movies and expensive headsets is now possible for anyone at any time.
Experts predict the AR market to reach more than $18 billion by 2023. This growth is a result of consumer thirst for enhanced experiences and entertainment. While some consumers seek out AR headsets, much of the expansion is due to businesses jumping on board.
AR can help business owners in a number of ways. While some are pretty obvious, others are more subtle. Here are seven industries where augmented reality can create unique opportunities.
One of the more apparent sectors AR impacts is healthcare. Doctors about to perform tricky procedures can enhance their view with augmented reality. For example, with the help of cameras and computers, a neurologist can perform intricate brain surgery to remove a tumor from a patient. Medical professionals have used virtual reality (VR) for years to practice complex operations. You can expect them to use AR in the coming years as the technology becomes more accessible.
One app called Viipar allows experienced surgeons to transpose their hands over those of a beginning surgeon and guide them. AccuVein works to find the veins of a patient, making IV placement easier, and assisting with surgeries. Another way AR might impact medicine is by allowing patients to play games and retrain their brains or bodies after surgery. Physical therapy becomes more interesting when the user walks through a beautiful setting instead of a workout room.
2. Real Estate
People move across the country and sometimes into homes they’ve never seen in person. The way individuals relocate more frequently has created an opportunity for real estate agents to show in-depth views of their available properties. Some use AR to show homes from a variety of angles that might not usually be available. They also allow clients to place furniture in a room and see how things look and feel.
Factories contain equipment that is dangerous to operate for those not adequately trained. Manufacturers now use augmented reality to educate people on how to use machinery safely. By creating a visual model, the employee can work with a mock version of the equipment and learn how it operates inside and out. They don’t have to worry about costly mistakes, and after, they can step into their new role with confidence.
Both online and offline retailers embrace AR technology, utilizing programs to show customers the different features and functions of their products. One example is IKEA, a company that offers the ability to upload a photo to their app or website and see how a piece of furniture might look in a room.
While a futuristic store where the user walks up to an item and sees a hologram might not be in the budget, almost any business can create a simple app that allows the customer to try out features and decide if the item is right for them.
The construction industry uses AR in a variety of ways. For example, wearable glasses measure the physical elements in a space and then use augmented reality to see how a finished project appears. Another benefit is that revisions can be made on-site and on the fly. However, the technology can also show clients plans for a project so that companies don’t waste precious time.
One of the most significant areas where AR makes an impact is in education. Schools without funds for specimens to dissect or the desire to use real animals can utilize the technology to help students study a digital model. As a bonus, learners can test their knowledge multiple times without additional costs. Museums also use AR to teach people about various topics. For example, students might point a device at a statue that then comes to life and tells them a story.
The illustrated aspects of AR make education more effective for visual learners. The future of schooling looks quite different than the classrooms of today. Picture kindergarteners studying a letter of the alphabet and using a device to pull up a corresponding image and sound.
The advances in AR impact even the travel industry. Apps such as Yelp Monocle offer info about local surroundings. Point your phone at a location, and you’ll see features and in-depth details. The reality is that you’re standing in front of a restaurant in a strange city. The augmented reality is that you know what type of dishes they serve and see an image of the most popular item.
Marriott hotels are testing out AR with VRoom Service. Google’s Word Lens allows travelers to point their phone at a sign in a foreign language and get the translation.
AR and the Future of Business
Although AR naturally lends itself to some industries, it may not be as readily apparent how it helps others. However, the use of the technology can take any organization to the next level. You simply need to look at how it can enhance the customer experience and make the decision to buy easier. As devices become less expensive, and more people use the tech, the prices will drop, and you’ll be able to implement AR into your business model easily.
Lexie is a UX content strategist and web designer. She enjoys copious amounts of coffee (with a dash of milk) and walking her goldendoodle. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.