Augmented reality (AR) promises to change how consumers of all kinds interact with the world around them. At its core, AR technology enhances the world around us to provide information, unique experiences, design visualization, and more.
Through both online applications and mobile and iOS app development, users will be able to interact with products, services, and their own environment in ways that will raise engagement, improve safety and efficiency, and create unique problem-solving capabilities.
Businesses across the spectrum are investing heavily in AR technology. In 2016, the market size for augmented reality applications topped $6 billion. In the next five years, the market is expected to soar to an astounding $215 billion.
Companies like Google, Sony, and Microsoft are investing in R&D for all kinds of industries. While the perception that gaming might be the primary application, industrial and automotive applications as well as e-commerce will far outpace that market share.
Already today, we have hand-held AI medical devices that can “see” through the skin to reveal veins for insertion of IV needles, assess blockages, or provide a map of someone’s blood vessels.
Advanced surgical applications are a step away. This includes help to guide surgeons through an operation on a more precise level or a means of alerting medical staff to unforeseen issues during surgery.
Eventually, healthcare can improve in low-access care areas through sophisticated applications of artificial intelligence technology that even a paraprofessional can use.
The largest expectations for the impact of AR lie in the industrial market. Everything from aerospace to automotive AR applications can make work more efficient and safe.
Today, AI helmets exist that can monitor the workplace environment, which is particularly beneficial in manufacturing.
Work staff will be able to access information at a glance and determine if machinery is performing correctly, check the ambient environment for safety concerns, or find immediate support for work tasks in real-time fed directly to the headgear.
With AR, 3D modeling becomes instantaneous and more visual. Instead of spending budgets on physical prototypes, AR design applications can produce precise models of everything from individual objects to entire environments in a digital environment that allow designers to interact with their products.
The potential for cost-savings could be significant, potentially lowering R&D costs that can then be passed to customers and improve competitive edge.
Perhaps the most visible and daily AR applications users will see are in the retail space, both online and in person.
Customers will be able to virtually see how a clothing or shoes will fit them, reducing the high cost of online returns through better shopping choices.
In real environments, apps will direct shoppers to their specific, desired purchases or visibly highlight offers and new suggestions at the right moment of the shopping experience.
AR will bring the concept of gamification to the workplace in unique ways. By applying the techniques that keep players involved with games, businesses can improve their employee engagement by appealing to our competitive natures with other employees and ourselves.
Much like how rewards points work for airlines and hotels, workers might earn credits for certain tasks and rewards when these are redeemed.
Or, they can monitor their standing within a sales force in terms of sales revenue, clients, and customer satisfaction with leader boards that track progress.
Mobile phones and tablets are already ubiquitous, and will be the primary interface for consumers of AR. The market potential for augmented reality applications and the implications of raising the competitive stakes will be huge.
With the potential for improving the shopping experience, manufacturing, and design–excluding the other wide range of applications in other sectors–Augmented Reality will transform our everyday lives not only in ways we already know to be great, but also in unexpected avenues we have yet to explore.
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