Why Is 2018 the Year of Augmented Reality in Business?

Even though Augmented Reality (AR) has been around for over 10 years, it just recently took off seriously, with particular growth in 2018.

When you look at the sales results from numerous AR headsets on the market – which are expected to grow from $8 M to $12.4 M before the end of this year, according to the IDC – it’s clear that this market is rapidly expanding.

On another note, augmented and virtual reality startups managed to raise $3.6 billion from venture capitalists and corporate entities over the course of 12 months to the end of Q1 2018, establishing a new record.

One cannot help but wonder: what caused this massive interest in this technology that overlays digitally-created content on to the user’s real-world environment?

How Pokemon Changed the Game

According to some analysts, it was Pokemon Go that changed everything in 2015 and set up AR for the rise in the market that followed.

"I don't think [Pokemon Go] gets enough credit," said Matt Szymczyk, CEO for Zugara, Inc., one of the first development companies to begin working in the AR space back in 2008. "It … was the catalyst for what changed the perception for consumer use."

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will probably remember the Pokemon Go craze that transformed game users into real-life Pokemon trainers, chasing the augmented characters across the streets. The gaming world was changed on a massive scale, and along with it, the business view of AR technology.

Companies of all kinds are now looking into complementing their offerings with augmented reality tech.

3 Main Reasons Why AR Is Hot Right Now

1. Advance in Consumer Technology

A fundamental reason for the increasing desire for this technology is the fact that AR provides a level-up to the enhanced customer experience c which Pokemon Go clearly demonstrated – and that’s something every business strives to achieve.

2. Wide-Spread Device Use

Since AR applications can be used on smartphones, the reach for this technology is extremely broad, with mobile phones acting as a well-prepared platform for businesses that want to amplify their brands with AR.

3. Investments from Tech Giants

Many tech industry leaders like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft are investing heavily in AR hardware, software and tools, making it easier for the developers. Frameworks like ARKit and ARCore, created by Apple and Google, allow software developers to build AR features into existing apps or create new programs with unique AR features.

AR started to grow and expand in the business world, and it appears that, so far, retailers and manufacturers have been the biggest fans of this fun technology.

AR in Retail

Implementing a virtual image of a physical object into its natural physical environment, so the user can picture how a certain product will look in situ, is a feature that benefits many retailers trying to get closer to buyers.

For instance, when people buy furniture, with the available AR app they can instantly check if the piece will fit into their home and get a feel of how that product would enhance their entire setting. It provides a truly immersive experience of the product before the customer makes the buying decision.

There are examples from the automotive industry, where buyers can “place” a vehicle right on their driveway using the AR app, and get an almost realistic feel of their possible new car, parked in front of the house.

People can even try on shoes though augmented reality and see if they’d fit their style – at least from the aesthetic standpoint.

AR in Manufacturing

Companies from the manufacturing sector are trying to innovate on many fronts and are getting closer to creating a Smart factory. One interesting innovation is wearable AR technology such as Google Glass Enterprise that improves efficiency and streamlines operations.

In the past, workers would have to walk back and forth between desktops or lug around thick binders with directions, whereas now, by using wearable AR, they can control instructions without leaving each product.

Some studies found that AR in manufacturing results in significantly increased productivity.
Recently at GE Healthcare, “a warehouse worker receiving a new picklist order through AR completed the task 46 percent faster than when using the standard process, which relies on a paper list and item searches on a work station,” says Harvard Business Review.

AR’s Future

It is very likely that AR tech will maintain its dominance in mobile devices – at least until smartphones are replaced with another broadly used device.

In the foreseeable future, AR technology will pair with the advancements in artificial intelligence and location-based services. Improved GPS capabilities could enable businesses to place information all around us in the real world, which is especially interesting for marketers.

Some experts believe that augmented reality will reach wide-spread market use by 2020, with 2018 being its transition crossroad from an innovative technology into a practical business app.

Want to give AR a shot? Or are you still unsure if it’s the right fit for your business? Let’s set up a call to discuss – we’d love to help. Contact us today! (Link to Clovers contact form)

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