Augmented Reality (AR) is nothing new. In this day and age, we’ve all had some form of AR experience or exposure to the world of mixed reality.
While Augmented Reality has not yet reached its full potential, it’s becoming part of our daily lives. It has moved into the mainstream and has gained popularity in the business sector.
For businesses, the potential of AR to revolutionize processes and workflows is huge. So, in this post, we’ll discuss why, how, and when should businesses use Augmented Reality.
Uses of Augmented Reality for Business
Augmented Reality is effective at blurring the lines between the digital and the real world. It offers businesses a distinctive way to engage with colleagues, customers, prospects, and suppliers.
Up to this point, augmented reality has exhibited remarkable market possibilities. And it’s only at the early stages of unlocking its true potential.
Think for a moment that you’re shopping for a new coffee table, a jumper, or a holiday destination. More likely than not, you’d find yourself inside physical stores, flipping through magazines, or browsing online.
Now, reimagine yourself shopping but in a more completely immersive way — from the comforts of your home. Smartphone apps with AR technology can show you what that new coffee table would look like, in real-time.
Businesses are always trying to improve customer experience. Often, they welcome new trends that are both efficient and exciting. Indeed, our vastly consumption-led lives have room for Augmented Reality.
From a business point of view, AR offers a lot more than just an improved customer experience.
For companies using AR, how has it boosted sales, improved efficiency and marketing, and overall business performance?
So far, Augmented Reality has demonstrated its value as a vital business tool for:
- Recruitment and Training
- Product Development
- Marketing and
Recruitment and Training
A 2017 study concluded that Augmented Reality is the future of recruitment and training as demonstrated by the rising of immersive technologies in learning and development. Three years later, we can validate that using AR or augmented reality has gone beyond remote staff training.
The days of screening resumes and making company-changing decisions based on what you want to hear from candidates are long gone. Today’s enterprises are using AR and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies to improve staff recruitment and training.
For instance, a company can create a VR simulation for commercial engineers working at heights. Today’s recruitment process involves using Augmented Reality and VR to let future recruits experience the workplace remotely.
Given the rise of remote hiring during the work-from-home period, many enterprises appreciate the usefulness of these immersive technologies more than ever before.
Instead of having candidates spend a lot of time in the workplace assessing its pros and cons, they can now enter a simulated version of that workplace using Virtual Reality.
AR Technology in Product Development
Using AR technology not only helps in training a more skilled workforce and improving user experience, it is also essential in product development. Many industries can benefit from using augmented reality in simplifying product development and related services.
A more efficient systematization of processes and workflows is now possible through digital visualization. This can have a massive implication when it comes to human collaboration.
Augmented Reality can enable interactions that are location-independent. For example, internationally distributed teams collaborate on developing a product in real-time. This can be useful in prolonged crises like the current global pandemic.
AR Benefits for Product Development
- Lower development costs
- Minimize risks and increase safety
- Faster development turnaround time
- Improved cooperation via shared access to relevant data
- Product enhancement by identifying errors early on
- Digital visualization of the product for external departments, costumes, and partners
Using smart devices with Augmented Reality technology allows the people involved in product development to interact with each other wherever they are in the world. Augmented Reality allows developers to access any project easily by remotely visualizing the product.
With AR, developers can walk around the simulated 3D version of the product and inspect the details from all angles. Additionally, they can compare different models of the product, give feedback, and modify the models in real-time.
Using Augmented Reality can increase product development flexibility. The use of AR can reduce the hassles and costs concerning prototype development and testing.
Using Augmented Reality in product development allows for further, on-the-spot development changes. Also, live sharing of the implementation of technical variations between members of the development team is now possible.
On the other hand, conventional product development methods involve manual construction of prototypes. And to enable discussion, the prototype has to be sent to other members of the development team who might be in different locations around the world.
Using AR to Increase Sales
Even in sales and marketing strategies, AR technology has become a welcome component. With this in mind, mobile devices have become the go-to instrument between consumer and brand interaction and as well as making purchasing decisions.
AR application in mobile devices can be a salesman’s additional tool that helps with:
- Closing deals
- Driving sales
- Awareness and
- Brand value enhancement
Augmented Reality has the power to influence the buying decisions of consumers. It can awaken emotions and create a deeper feeling of ownership.
This is because people will likely put money into products they think they have a connection with. Either it’s a common or familiarity and shared goal.
This means if consumers had the right level of engagement with a product, time, and the capacity to envision owning a product — it’s very likely that they will make the purchase.
It is quite common that a customer will want to try a product before making a purchase. From clothing to houses and cars.
Car showrooms, cosmetic samples, fitting rooms, and practically all the other industries bear witness to this sales strategy’s effectiveness. Without a doubt, shopping experiences offered by AR are on the rise.
Augmented Reality allows consumers to model and try on a product without having to physically interact with it. We know that test drives and fitting rooms are an essential part of selling. AR combines this concept with accuracy, speed, and convenience.
AR “Try Before You Buy” at Play
As more and more businesses have come to understand the effectiveness of Augmented Reality in their marketing funnel, they begin to develop their version of AR try-before-you-buy apps as well.
One pioneering tech company that used AR applications in their try-before-you-buy marketing strategy is Facebook, which is now known as Meta. Their AR-based ad, for instance, allowed potential customers to try on virtual sunglasses using the cameras of their mobile devices.
Not wanting to be left behind is the cosmetics industry, which has been enthusiastic in embracing Augmented Reality. Top cosmetic companies such as L’Oreal and Sephora have launched their respective AR-based apps to offer the try-before-you-buy experience to their customers.
Similarly, the shopping scene has seen the rise of virtual fitting rooms in recent years. At the forefront of building virtual fitting rooms are brands Timberland and Topshop.
Moreover, AR plays a crucial role in enhancing the post-sales process. Time and time again, customers will find themselves relying on user manuals or online information on websites that can be difficult to navigate.
This frustrating experience can drive people to take their business elsewhere. Augmented Reality solves this problem by offering immersive, highly accessible product information through a smart device.
Communication in Business
Communication in the corporate world often involves keeping a wide network of people to get updated about a plan or project.
There are several potential applications of AR within the field of communication.
For example, data visualization has always been an essential tool to the success of a company. The ability of the people involved in accessing, dissecting, and discussing data is crucial to the smooth flow of operations.
Audiences, both internal and external, need access to a wide range of data including social responsibility information and performance metrics. Augmented Reality solutions can help brands, both large and small, to develop live and interactive simulations of data aimed at a specific audience.
Often, the ‘in-person experience’ is a requirement in strategic communications. Microsoft’s holoportation technology is a form of AR application that can help simulate a close, inter-personal feeling. This technology works by creating a holograph of a person whose task is to deliver a message to other people in different parts of the world without having to travel.
Customer communication aims to:
- Decrease churn rate
- Increase revenue per customer and
- Improve customer satisfaction
There are several ways where augmented reality can help improve customer satisfaction and communication. The concept of customer satisfaction depends on the following factors such as:
- Appealing environment
- Product assortment
- Connection with other customers
- Commitment to the customer
- Easy transactions
When we consider Augmented Reality as a tool that brings virtual elements into the real world, it becomes clear that the role of AR to ensure customer satisfaction is based on these factors.
Take adaptability in health care as an example. Augmented Reality applications in smartphones can help physiotherapy patients practice certain exercises.
Moreover, many smartphone AR applications have a feature that tracks the patient’s movements using accelerometer data. These apps can also guide patients through the appropriate exercises.
Proper implementation of Augmented Reality in business can bring customers closer to the products or services. In many cases, this enhanced accessibility can make most customer communications almost unnecessary.
Related Post: Using AI in Making Recruiting More Efficient
Augmented Reality in Marketing
Marketing involves using different tools in promoting and selling a product or service. It also includes market research and advertising. The goal is to bring engaging and captivating information to potential customers, hoping they’ll turn around and make a purchase.
Flashy sales advertising was a thing in marketing many decades ago. Social media marketing took over with the rise of the internet. At present, the future of marketing is Augmented Reality.
Traditional branding materials can become exciting and immersive marketing tools thanks to Augmented Reality. Virtual and interactive components can be added to level up business cards and brochures.
As an example, a smart device can be used to scan a business card that has interactive contact information like an email address or phone number.
An AR-based marketing technique enables customers to use their smart devices to access a range of interactive features by scanning certain printed materials. For instance, a user will need to scan a specific page of a magazine to access video content that features more information on a product.
So, how is augmented reality used in businesses?
So far, Augmented reality has helped improve sales and B2B relations, communication, product development, recruitment, and the staff training process. Also, AR has played a vital role in creating buzz around a brand and elevating company status.
What is Augmented Reality?
As it is known, augmented reality is all about enhancing your experience within the real world using digital information. When you aim your smartphone or tablet’s screen on a physical object, landscape, or structure, — digital elements materialize into the screen.
AR technology displays some form of a digital layer of information atop the real-world view. It effectively ‘enhances’ or ‘augments’ our view of the world around us.
Integrated with real-world objects and other virtual elements, AR content materializes on your screen in the form of graphics, audio, text, etc.
Microsoft’s HoloLens is a well-known device in the augmented reality landscape. Yet, AR headsets are not the sole carrier of this versatile technology.
Smartphones and tablets are the more common carriers of AR technology. Today, augmented reality can be experienced to the fullest extent on many smart devices like phones, tablets, digital displays, magic mirrors, etc.
Conclusively, the speedy arrival of smart wearable devices into the market combined with the ubiquity of mobile devices means that the AR industry is poised to take off. Thus, the increasing use of AR in business has changed the way how enterprises operate.
Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality
Like many complementary technologies, AV and VR have their differences and similarities. Here are a few of them:
Similarities between Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
Both of these immersive technologies are in high-definition audio and high-resolution 3D video. Augmented Reality and VR came from the same concept of delivering an immersive experience to users through a digital environment.
Difference between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
In comparison, VR is completely an immersive technology. In part, Augmented Reality overlays virtual content over the physical world.
But AR is in everyday devices like smartphones and tablets. Sensors in AR devices detect physical objects. And then, built-in computers decide where to put virtual elements on the screen.
Augmented reality is not a new technology
Surprisingly, AR has been around since 1997. There were already studies about the potential uses of AR in:
- Military aircraft navigation & targeting
- Maintenance & repair
- Robot path planning
- Medical visualization,
- Annotation and
Today, tech companies are all in a race to bring the best possible AR experience to consumers. Both technologies have a long way to go before they reach their full potential.
But current immersive technologies offer today’s businesses plenty of opportunities to benefit from.
Combining AR and Virtual Reality
Virtual reality, in relation to AR, is a complementing but distinct technology. While AR overlays digital content on the physical world, VR displays a computer-generated environment rather than a physical reality.
Though the main implementation of VR is in the entertainment space, it can be designed to duplicate physical environments for training purposes, especially if the training involves remote locations or hazardous conditions.
Besides, if the required training machinery is unavailable, VR can display hologram versions of machines to engage technicians in a virtual environment. Thus, when necessary, VR will add ‘stimulate’ as a 4th capability to the core capabilities of AR such as visualize, instruct, and interact.
Conclusively, many businesses will use AR a lot more than VR.
That being said, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality integration allow users to:
- Transcend scale. Users can interact with environments that are either too big or too small to experience directly.
- Transcend time. Simulating possible future situations or reproducing historical contexts.
- Transcend distance. Simulating remote locations.
Additionally, drawing people together in shared virtual settings can improve comprehension, communication, decision-making, and teamwork.
Use Cases of Augmented Reality for Business
Wondering how to use Augmented Reality for business? Here are some AR use cases across industries and sectors.
AR can help recruits with interactive instructions on how to use machinery. Onboarding can help shave off ramp-up time and increase safety.
AR headsets integrated with Artificial Intelligence (AI) could help employees get from one area to another in the most efficient fashion. The outcome would be potential long-term productivity gains for the company.
· Operational Information
An overlay of Augmented Reality elements in a factory can help employees monitor equipment status and performance. For instance, employees can get live insight from interactive gauges on different areas of the assembly line.
· Remote Assistance
New employees could conduct real-time service maintenance and complex repairs on vehicles. Engineers can show them live step-by-step instructions through an AR-based remote assist technology.
Vehicle prototyping can be costly for automotive companies. AR offers businesses to iterate and improve product designs without spending anything. BMW has been using AR to minimize the need to conduct test setups.
AR can help travel agencies create computer-generated tour presentations as a way to offer destinations and facilities. Customers learn more about a destination as they experience interacting with AR content.
Landlords can use AR to provide tenants with instructions and information about the rental property.
For instance, a smartphone AR application can help tenants locate different utilities and how to use them. The app can also help people orient themselves around the property.
Additionally, AR-controlled smart locks and online payment systems further minimize the need for contact between landlords and tenants.
Specific Examples of Implementing AR Technology in Business
Knowledge of the general uses of Augmented Reality can be beneficial for businesses. But knowing the specific examples of implementing AR can be an advantage over the competition.
Virtual Product Demonstration
Furniture giants Wayfair and Ikea have AR applications that help people see what furniture and accessories would look like in their homes without going to a physical store.
Major League Baseball uses its “At Bat” app to collect demographic data and for marketing purposes.
The app works when fans point their smartphones toward the field. After doing so, the screen displays profiles of individual players, which include batting average, on-base percentage, catch probability, and arm strength.
Interestingly, fans download the app for its exciting features associated with baseball. An app download, in turn, grants MLB the ability to collect data from baseball fans.
Not so long ago, Sprint wanted to introduce its 5G network at the Mobile World Congress conference. Unfortunately, the technology was unavailable at the time. And so, the company decided to use AR in creating a futuristic demo that showed attendees the difference between the current and future of mobile with 5G technology.
How to Evaluate AR if it’s the Right Solution for Your Business
As Augmented Reality’s popularity continues to rise especially within the business sector, it is still crucial to know if it’s the right fit for your business. Before investing in AR, businesses should assess their marketing demographics and goals.
Businesses must consider implementing Augmented Reality if their core demographics are either employees or users that are millennials or younger.
People in their mid-30s and younger are living in the age of AR. If this technology is not offered, businesses risk losing this target audience to forward-thinking, modern, and engaging competitors.
AR is an ideal tool for explaining to an audience and engaging them. Businesses with either of one of these objectives must consider having an AR solution.
Moreover, experiences with Augmented Reality should be highly shareable so that they will be suited to inform people about events and entertainment.
Businesses must be aware of what’s going on with their sector. If any competitor is already using Augmented Reality, then businesses must investigate and immediately assess if it fits their marketing strategy. Or else, they might not be able to keep up with the competition as it races forward.
Let Dom & Tom Develop Cutting-Edge AR Apps for Your Business
Augmented Reality is here to stay and is becoming more commonplace. AR is impacting businesses around the world and creating a competitive advantage for those who use it.
Dom & Tom is at the forefront of providing digital solutions and immersive experiences, including Augmented Reality. Contact us today! Let us help develop your AR and VR app so you can stay ahead of the competition.