It is possible to find examples of successful augmented reality uses in almost every industry, and the fact that AR implementation adds great value is reflected by the sector’s growth and projected potential. Below I list TOP benefits and share some examples of how AR has already brought or can bring about benefits to retail, marketing, education, art, publishing, and manufacturing sectors.
Future is looking bright for augmented reality
The mobile augmented reality market is booming. With an estimated 2.4 billion mobile AR users worldwide by 2023, the AR industry is projected to be worth more than USD 72 billion by 2024. Back in 2015 (a year after we launched the Overly app), there were just 200 million mobile AR users across the globe.
The tenacious growth projection reflects the increasingly accessible and affordable mobile devices, as well as other hardware and software developments that place technologies in our everyday lives with ease.
And, let’s not forget, the new, cutting-edge tech-innate generation, which is pushing aside the ever so discussed millennials. Gen Z, aka iGen or centennials, are not only willing to try out digital experiences but expect online platforms to add practical value and work as an extension to their world seamlessly.
Mobile augmented reality is a technology that fits in perfectly across various sectors for boosting both internal and external services, such as meeting consumer demands and driving forward modern working environments.
There is an emphasis on mobile augmented reality from me because it utilizes the most accessible and personal tech of all — more than 3 billion of the global population own a smartphone today. We’ve already seen with WeChat in China, the way people embrace technology that is at their fingertips when it serves everyday value. Mobile augmented reality is defined by its ability to add value. Although our mobiles may one day turn into our interactive glasses or contacts, such advancements are still not going to be as affordable and mainstream for 20 to 30 years, according to Facebook’s Michael Abrash.
I’ll go through a list of 6 sectors and suggest TOP3 benefits augmented reality can deliver for each. I’ll also add one notable example for each category to give you a taste of the AR’s potential in the given area.
Marketing and sales
When it comes to marketing, augmented reality can be used at different stages of the sales funnel as well as to varying extent. You can read about different AR marketing budget options here. TOP3 benefits:
- Augmented reality is still a developing technology and guarantees that your brand stands out amongst others. While people in the tech circles have been hearing about AR for a couple of decades, the general population is still WOWed by it. Brands that utilize augmented reality in their marketing efforts are basically pioneering in the sector
- A general benefit of AR campaigns is increased engagement. While a lot of marketing and advertising hang onto people’s short attention span, augmented reality doesn’t go for quantity, but rather quality and a lot of experiences can be designed to increase the amount of time people spend with your message. This is purely thanks to its wow factor and interactivity
- A special shout out here to SME marketers here in terms of benefits. AR has long been a privilege of big-budget corporations. Now web-based AR platforms such as Overly app or similar tools allow small businesses an affordable opportunity to communicate more creatively.
A more exhaustive list of augmented reality benefits in retail can be found in one of my previous blogs. But as I’m aiming for a TOP3 for this blog, I’ll go with the below:
- For companies that take customer loyalty and retention seriously, augmented reality provides an outlet for customer-brand interaction post-purchase. This is especially relevant for AR packaging implementation, where it serves as a layer of extra information for recipes, provides instructions or engagement through games for kids
- Brands without their own stores can take advantage of AR’s educating properties, teaching both customers and sales staff about their product. Brand packaging that is enabled with AR can help customers learn more about specific products if shop assistants are busy and cannot provide extra information. It can also be an excellent ice-breaker for customer service agents and entice them to showcase your products over that of a competitor’s
- Stats show that AR can work wonders for reducing return rates and increasing decision comfort amongst online shoppers. Called try as you buy or try before you buy AR experiences, the below example comes from Sephora. The company’s app allows online shoppers to try on different lipstick shades digitally in real-time, compare and share looks, as well as complete the purchase.
Education and training
When it comes to education and training, I like it that providers embrace technology rather than try to eliminate it from the classroom. It’s simply another way of learning, which may be more suited to the younger generations:
- AR doesn’t replace the traditional learning process. It boosts it by providing an alternative visual learning opportunity. I have pasted an example below from Disney Research, which emphasizes that due to “the popularity of digital devices, real-world activities like coloring can seem unexciting, and children become less engaged in them. Augmented reality holds unique potential to impact this situation by providing a bridge between real-world activities and digital enhancements”
- Regardless of learners’ age, another benefit of AR-enabled educational materials is that valuable content can be accessed by anyone who owns a mobile device, irrespective of their location or financial restrictions as oppose to buying a real-life 3D model for their anatomy class, for example
- Touching on anatomy, not sure what was your favorite subject in school, but sciences are often challenging to learn, be it biology, chemistry, or engineering. AR can help educators and training providers to convey complex subjects through digital visualizations.
Next up is augmented reality for print media, such as magazines, newspapers, and books. While books may be a better fit under the education sector, there are still some things that overlap for various print media.
- I mentioned in one of my previous blogs that a key benefit of implementing AR within print media is meeting the needs of younger generations, adapting to how they consume content. I dropped a few stats there about double-screening and digital news consumption, so do check the blog on AR publishing out in more detail
- What goes hand in hand with the above point is next-level storytelling. While people who purchase print media enjoy its physical form, they are also increasingly looking for extra information on various topics online. If your publication features augmented reality with consistently updated content, you could offer up-to-date overlays to news pieces as well as behind-the-scenes to some interviews, etc.
- Once a print publication has a steady audience that has grasped augmented reality, I believe that publishers can make all investment back through offering interactive advertising spaces to their business clients. For this, I have featured an example of real estate advertisement we delivered for a Belgium newspaper. The paper features a mixture of editorial and advertorial augmented reality content.
Art and museums
When it comes to the art world, there are two sides we have to look at when considering benefits. One is artists who want to stand out, and the other is museums and exhibition halls that want to work with talented people and create showcases that attract visitors. I’ve dedicated a more in-depth review of each perspective within two separate blogs for artists and museums, but here is a more general TOP3:
- Marker-based augmented reality can bring to life static paintings, adding animation or a story that’s relevant to the artwork. It can also present the making-of, which allows explorers to find out the story behind a piece or reveal its creators’ interpretation rather than leaving individuals to make sense of exhibits themselves
- Augmented reality presents an unmanned territory for adventurous artists. While placing physical art incurs getting costly materials, shipping to exhibition location or premises, setting it up and getting overall permissions, augmented reality is not restricted at all. Especially when it comes to markerless augmented reality art, you can use various platforms and place your art in the world’s best museums
- Utilizing interactive technologies, such as augmented reality, within your artworks, can help you stand out. As the technology is developing, you’ll find that AR will wow most of your audience and ensure your work is remembered. Below is a quick example from one of our recent projects.
Although mobile augmented reality is already recruited in industrial settings, this is an area where I see more of a futuristic lookout and integration of mixed reality glasses. However, here are my TOP3 applications that will only get more embedded as AR hardware and software develops:
- One of the best industrial applications of mobile augmented reality currently is real-life object tracking and AR overlays that showcase maintenance information, trains people to use specific equipment, or guides them through fixing something. This will only get better when glasses replace our phones
- Another AR benefit of the industrial sector is its ability to help workers navigate through large warehouses, locate products or machinery with faults. Google is implementing something similar in a real-world setting, so AR navigation will become normality for us both in and out of work
- Looking into the near future, I also see that mixed reality glasses will replace industrial computers, and machinery will no longer need screens. Workers will be able to make corrections in AR at ease.
I believe as the technology progresses and AR becomes an everyday tool that people use, the benefits will be much more evident across other sectors. There are areas where the tech is already recruited today, but I didn’t dive into depth. This includes travel and navigation, which I think will better take off when we have smart glasses or contacts. The automotive industry is already scooping some benefits, with manuals and instructions for service workers. Again, this will become more fruitful as we see hardware and software develop. As per medicine, I believe AR is due to overtake virtual reality as AR overlays will replace computer screens and let doctors train and operate with 3D overlays.
If you feel like I missed a vital sector, do let me know, and I will be sure to explore a bit and add your thoughts to my blog.