Until a few years ago, the concept of Augmented Reality (AR) was just a fancy technology that had a long way to reach a usable level and an even a longer way to reach the practical application.
Until a few years ago, the concept of Augmented Reality (AR) was just a fancy technology that had a long way to reach a usable level and an even a longer way to reach the practical application. Fast forward to 2020, AR is quickly acquiring an important role in several sectors. Several large and small companies have entered the space, including the likes of Microsoft and Google.
The uses of AR are also varied. The entertainment sector, especially the gaming industry, was one of the first to embrace the technology. Games like Pokémon Go developed a cult following with their smart integration of AR and the real-world through GPS. Similar advantages were foreseen by companies in the B2B segments as well as they began to bring AR into manufacturing, retail, health care, and other areas.
Improving operational efficiency in factories
Mark Troester, VP of Strategy at Progress pointed out that using augmented reality for assembly and
maintenance can speed resolution times and eliminate rework, supporting businesses in reducing factory downtime, reduction in defects and scrap output, and increase equipment effectiveness.
“Using augmented reality for training versus traditional training approaches better engages the workforce and helps increase productivity and efficiency, reduction of the training cost, and improve operating procedures and worker safety,” Troester added. “Using augmented reality to better visualize data integrated into the physical world and moving beyond the simple 2D representation of data leads to better access to data and insights, and better collaboration.”
Improvement in operational efficiency is, by and large, a single major benefit that experts across the board point out. David Grand, Marketing Manager of Sirea &iAR stressed this, citing a use case.
“Operational efficiency is much more improved, for example with consignation application that we developed for a famous French company, all of the consignation steps have their time validation, comment, pictures and other data collected by technician on plant, saved in the app and sync to the server when network is found,” Grand said. “Information is enriched with AR indications, that reduces the possibility to commit mistakes to a minimum and ensures the safety of the user. The report of all the steps (consignation can group 60-80 steps) is autogenerated by the app, and only within this task it’s 1 hour saved by the technician who must do this before.”
Providing a more realistic customer experience
In the retail segments, augmented reality allows retailers to streamline showroom space, and offers online retailers the ability to significantly reduce the rate of returns. For example, if a consumer can control what a virtual mannequin is wearing, flipping through colors and styles, or trying on variations of an outfit in an AR-enabled mirror, it reduces the number of SKUs that need to be available physically to the customer.
“The data that can be gathered from these interactions can provide valuable feedback that can affect inventory decisions, and what products and options get highlighted on the showroom floor,” said Steve Curran, Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Day 8 Studios. “By virtualizing the try-before-you-by experience, online purchases will be returned less, as they will be more realistically observed and considered. It can also help train employees about the products they sell. With AR, you can look at any product through your phone, and see an overlay of highlighted information or instructions about that SKU.”
As AR evolves further and the technology becomes more accessible and cheaper, more and more industries are expected to make use of it. This could include health care to education and even security.