Augmented reality is nothing new — we all remember Pokemon Go. And though games and entertainment remain the primary source for AR, the technology is making great strides in retail, education, engineering, and other industries. In fact, the worldwide market size for augmented reality is forecast to skyrocket to 198 bln dollars by 2025.
The increasing adoption of AR is underpinned by a number of reasons. Sophisticated AR software, improved hardware, blazing-fast 5G connectivity all contribute to numerous emerging use cases for the up-and-coming tech.
As AR is hitting the mainstream, let’s have a look at what 2020 holds.
The hottest trend in retail, AR-enhanced shopping continues to attract buyers and drive sales for brands. Augmented reality provides a novel way for customers to experience a product, often even without leaving the house. Virtual fitting rooms offer a try-before-you-buy option, AR beauty apps let you experiment with your makeup or hairstyle, and AR interior design applications can help your redecoration endeavor.
In-store, AR is put to good use, too. Need to go through the items on your shopping list in record time? An AR-enabled navigation app will show you the fastest route, as well as additional product info, reviews, and stock availability. With this level of convenience and fun, no wonder customers are craving AR-driven experiences. According to Gartner, in 2020 “100 million consumers will shop in AR online and in-store”.
AR is a proven tool in driving customer engagement and loyalty. And savvy businesses tap into the power of augmented reality marketing to provide unique immersive branded experiences and boost revenue.
Supercharged training and teaching
Education and skills training are other areas that look to benefit from the highly interactive nature of augmented reality in the nearest future. Through a full immersion in the subject matter, AR-driven visualization makes the learning process faster and more efficient.
Edtech space jumps on the AR bandwagon to upgrade and adjust traditional education for the digital-native generations. By 2025, Generation Alpha — children born after 2010 — will number 2 bln globally. And to cope with the challenges of teaching these inquisitive minds, educators start bringing AR into their classrooms to fuel student motivation and improve the learning curve.
These benefits of AR in education are not lost on the healthcare industry, too. Hospitals and digital health startups are leveraging the AR technology to revolutionize medical staff training and promote patient safety. One example is Touch Surgery, an AR-enabled simulation platform, that allows students to practice surgical procedures in a safe environment that significantly reduces training costs.
Shared, or remote, AR holds much promise as being able to remove the constraints of a physical world. Through lifelike avatars, users can teleport their presence anywhere and start socializing in a shared 3D space.
Magic Leap’s Avatar Chat lets you easily connect with your friends and even capture and share your experiences on social media. The digital avatars are rendered with great accuracy meaning your avatar blinks when you blink, and it moves just like you are moving around the room.
Enterprise-grade AR solutions
AR hardware keeps improving, and the market for headsets is heating up with new offerings aimed at enterprises. One headset worth noting is Microsoft HoloLens 2 that features improved ergonomics, larger field-of-view, and improved gesture recognition.
Better hardware underpins more robust AR solutions for industries like engineering, automotive, manufacturing, and more. These sectors are investing in AR to improve operational efficiency and unlock productivity through next-gen data visualization, expert remote assistance, and connected workforce.
Spatial is a fine example of an enterprise-grade AR platform aiming to transform how people work. The solution underpins Ford X’ shared AR workspace that serves to connect distributed product teams working on mobility initiatives. As the technology matures, we are going to witness more cases of enterprise-grade AR software in the years to come.
Moving full steam ahead, augmented reality is finding new areas of application outside games and entertainment. From AR-enabled shopping to augmented skills training to shared collaborative workplaces, AR has a lot in store — stay tuned.
Olga Ezzheva is a technical writer at Oxagile, a provider of software engineering and IT consulting services for SMEs and Fortune 500 companies alike. You can reach Olga at [email protected] or connect via LinkedIn.