In 2016, ISACA conducted a survey about how consumers today perceive augmented reality. About 60 to 70% of consumers saw clear benefits in using augmented reality, with about 69% believing that AR could help them learn new skills at work.
Its application in real-world scenarios is rapidly making it an integral tool in every sphere. Mega construction sites are usually a congregation of heavy machines and equipment. A single machine breaking down can hamper the workflow of the entire site, which can take hours or even days to repair. However, AR is reducing this downtime by completely changing the manner in which troubleshooting is done. With AR-enabled devices, technicians can now simply scan the machine with their mobile devices and view the technical issues of the equipment on their tablet or smart glasses — feature by feature — to investigate. AR enables them to see the insides of the machine as a 3D overlay, share the visuals with other teams and determine the solution — all at once.
This is the power of augmented reality that has opened up new realms of possibilities for business owners across the world. This paradigm shift is helping business owners save precious time and thousands of dollars, thereby enhancing their ROI significantly.
Almost every industry is poised to transform with AR. However, there are some prominent verticals that have already integrated AR in their daily workflow processes:
- Healthcare: Healthcare is among the leading industries undergoing a radical transformation as more and more healthcare professionals are using AR tools and technologies to solve complex healthcare problems. Augmented reality is helping doctors examine patients across geographical divides. Doctors can even resort to less-invasive surgeries with the help of AR devices and provide substitutes that can help with diagnosis and treatment.
- Real estate: Realty and construction is another industry where AR is making serious headway. Instead of showcasing 3D models on 2D screens, architects, designers and engineers can now present their work to clients as an enhanced holographic. This helps visualize every little nuance of a new space. Instead of poring over cramped floor plans that provide little detail about the value of the space, AR is helping give a more immersive walkthrough to clients and help them in their decision-making.
- Retail: In the retail sector, AR-powered glasses or virtual mirrors are helping customers virtually try on different apparel, makeup and accessories. This method has immense potential, especially in e-commerce, and is already being adopted by several online shopping portals.
- After-sales/customer service: When buying or servicing home or industrial appliances or complex machines, field service representatives often need to resort to printed installation guides that can be tedious. They may even need to consult experts at the office or service center in case of major issues or breakdowns, which can be time-consuming. With augmented reality, field reps can access interactive installation guides where they can see the machine broken apart, making it easier for them to figure out the process. It can also help in connecting with remote experts and following guidelines by overlaying information on a video that both parties can see. This can make field technicians quick and efficient at servicing, thereby saving time and resources for the company.
- Logistics: DHL, the leading global logistics company, has been one of the early adopters of AR. AR-enabled smart glasses help workers by guiding them through the warehouse to pick items for order fulfilment. According to DHL, this has helped the company reduce shipment errors and has allowed for a 25% increase in efficiency. This kind of impact in a modern business can emerge as the key distinguishing factor between close competitors. On-field workers can now access a plethora of information, including schematics, videos, workflows, instructions, charts, lists and so on, enabling them to make quick decisions and actions.
- Travel: This is one of the primary consumer-centric segments for using AR devices and systems. Travelers often need information quickly, whether it be about a particular destination, routes, ordering transportation, or restaurant and accommodation recommendations. AR apps are helping travelers access this information. AR apps can bring printed materials to life and even filter and personalize information depending on the current location and requirements of the user. AR can help hotel owners and travel agencies to better engage with their customers by offering special offers, discounts and reward points which can be accessed by scanning their brochures, and ensuring better brand recall and higher ROI on advertising expenditure.
Augmented reality is changing the way we live, work, play and entertain. The next few years will see the rise and rise of AR applications that will make our interactions with the virtual world more stimulating.
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