Although Pokemon Go! may have introduced the general public to augmented reality technology, it hasn’t come close to demonstrating the revolutionary impact AR will have on virtually everyone’s life. With numerous potential applications across a wide range of industries, AR is going to improve healthcare, make cities safer, and boost the efficiency of manufacturing processes (just to name a few examples).
It’s not smart to try and predict every single way we’ll use AR in the future. As the technology continues to develop and improve, innovators will continue to find new ways to improve and apply it to more situations. That said, the following examples illustrate how AR is already changing the way we work and live, even if you didn’t realize it yet.
To promote the development of AR products, Apple released the ARKit, a set of tools that makes it easy to develop these types of programs. The ARKit works by superimposing a digital world over the real one on display via your phone’s camera.
As more developers use the ARKit, we can expect to see more apps relying on the camera as the primary interface for mobile devices. For instance, instead of looking at an overhead view of the street when using a GPS app, users will instead be able to directly view the street via their device’s camera, with virtual arrows or directions pointing them in the right direction.
Again, AR has already proven itself to be very useful in the gaming industry. Developers may soon take the audience engagement strategy and principles behind Pokemon Go! and use them to gamify daily tasks, including work.
Imagine an app that displays a virtual red icon (or similar image) over new customers when they walk into a store. When an employee asks said customer if they need help with anything, the icon changes to green, and the employee earns “points” for assisting a new customer. This type of program won’t just make service workers more focused on the job; it could also improve the overall efficiency of workers in nearly any industry.
It’s easy to imagine how AR will change ecommerce, primarily because many retailers are already using the technology to offer customers a more convenient experience.
Sephora has an app which lets users “try on” virtual makeup by applying it to a selfie. Meanwhile, IKEA offers users an app through which they can superimpose the virtual image of a piece of furniture onto their surroundings.
Although ecommerce has definitely robbed brick-and-mortar stores of some business, there are still certain products that customers are reluctant to buy online. By making it easier to try these types of products virtually, AR will further improve the overall ecommerce experience. Additionally, brands can connect their brick-and-mortar establishments to their online catalogs right through consumers’ AR-enabled devices.
Industrial design requires careful planning. For example, when envisioning a new car, designers must create 3D models to get a sense of what the finished product will look like. However, even sophisticated models don’t always reveal design flaws. Companies waste a lot of money building prototypes that aren’t feasible due to design flaws that went unnoticed during the planning stage.
Thanks to AR, soon they’ll be able to actually sit in a virtual car before they start manufacturing it, making it easier to identify those flaws early in the process.
In many industries, employees must often work in dangerous environments. They need to constantly monitor the conditions around them to prevent accidents. It’s not easy to maintain this degree of vigilance.
AR is changing that. An example is the new “smart helmet” from DAQRI which can identify environmental anomalies that human workers might miss. In the near future, AR products like these will significantly reduce the danger of many different jobs.
Community governments are responsible not only for developing their cities and towns, but also anticipating how to respond to disasters, crime, and many other potential scenarios. AR will soon boost their ability to plan effectively.
Perhaps a city board wants to get a better sense of what a new development might look like. Through AR, they can visualize the development in its final form.
Or, maybe the fire department needs help predicting the consequences of a fire at a particular location. In this instance, AR can also help the department “see” what might occur.
The healthcare industry is another area in which the benefits of AR have already been proven. Augmented reality products are now helping nurses find veins in patients, allowing them to work much more efficiently and less invasively.
As the technology developers further, AR will allow surgeons in training to practice difficult procedures. AR apps could even illustrate how to treat an injury when a doctor isn’t immediately available. This, for example, would help soldiers in battle treat wounds if they can’t reach a medic.
These few examples make one thing very clear: AR is going to dramatically impact many different industries and situations in countless ways. Whether you work in these industries, or simply use their products and services, you’ll soon benefit from these changes in ways both big and small.