“In the last few years, AR has advanced rapidly and is impacting many sectors from education, e-commerce and finance to travel and retail. Brands are beginning to realize the value of including AR solutions to capture and retain their target audiences.”
“Augmented Reality is changing life as we know it, where we can see and interact with physical things we find all around us–even in the enterprise.”
– Charlie Ungashik, EVP, Chief Marketing Office, PTC.
Now major brands like Apple, Google and Microsoft are all developing augmented reality (AR) solutions, hardware and applications with high expectations of rising demand and revenue. The launch of the Apple ARKit and Google ARCore suggest an acceleration in the growth rate of AR applications over the next couple of years, with many more innovations expected in the future.
Many major brands, including Coca-Cola, Ikea and Zara are incorporating AR into their marketing and business programs as they begin to realize the potential importance of AR.
What is AR?
Simply put, augmented reality (AR) is the real-time display of interactions of the real-world environment with the digital world in the form of superimposed audio, video, text and graphics, and other advanced effects displayed on a screen or AR glasses. It is used to design contextual awareness solutions for different use cases, generally dealing with visual augmentation. It’s similar to virtual reality (VR), which was introduced in the early 1990s, but while VR lets users experience a virtual world, AR lets them experience the real world and virtual world simultaneously, which has a larger potential market. Industries as diverse as education, marketing and advertising, architecture and engineering, museums and beyond are now taking notice and looking for ways to implement the new tech.
As today’s devices become more portable and interconnected, consumers and brands alike are looking for more ways to foster digital interactions. Integrating AR capabilities into a variety of applications opens up new possibilities for innovation from business applications that improve productivity, safety and enhance the product development process, to consumer-facing use cases like the entertainment industry.
With the onset of streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, the average consumer is already comfortable with consuming TV shows and movies on their mobile devices. The next big disruption for the industry could very well be AR-enabled entertainment.
Misconceptions about Augmented Reality
Some people believe that AR effects can only be experienced using AR-specific devices or glasses. Not true: AR apps are being deployed on social media and are accessible on smartphones. Facebook Camera Effects and Snapchat are popular apps leveraging AR.
Another popular misconception about AR is its application. When most people think of AR, they associate it with visual augmentation. However, AR can also be used for audio augmentation. Bose is actively working on the world’s first audio AR platform that combines audio and visual augmentation.
What’s the latest and greatest in AR?
Fast moving consumer goods companies are looking to exploit AR by using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to market their products.
Retailers like Ikea offer AR apps that let a prospective buyer see how a piece of furniture will look in their home. And Airbnb has demonstrated an AR app that gives an informative guided tour of a house or apartment to renters when they arrive.
MIT Students working at the Media Labs are currently developing urban environment models using LEGO bricks and AR simulation to model such things as optimal land use and pedestrian mobility. The program aims to architect urban spaces, so they function better than the current infrastructure allows. The application is a valuable tool for such things as reducing the number of private automobiles, improving the distribution of amenities and reducing the number of high-density population pockets across a city.
A growing number of construction, industrial and automobile companies are using AR to improve project planning and product development. Engineers can interact with virtual models and make real-time design and implementation decisions.
Museums are using AR to bring artwork to life. For example, the British Museum is testing an AR smartphone app that would replace recorded descriptions and wall-mounted written descriptions of a work of art with an informative AR-based reenactment of how the piece was created.
And for Star Wars fans, Lenovo and Disney have collaborated on a Star Wars ARkit that lets users have lightsaber duels with their friends.
The number and diversity of AR solutions and applications are growing rapidly and being used in many industry sectors. Social media and advertising apps are gaining traction and attracting users with their special effects. As AR platforms and hardware kits evolve, more industries will figure out how to leverage the technology. For instance, AR is revolutionizing equipment maintenance, warehouse inventory picking and online retail shopping. And soon, AR will become a tool within the education, gaming, infrastructure, entertainment and healthcare sectors.
In order to use these tools to their greatest potential however, companies will need the right low-latency infrastructure. Aricent is already working on edge computing platforms that will bring the computing power needed to run AR right to the devices, whether it’s on a personal mobile phone or throughout an entire enterprise. AR technology is already moving fast—brands and enterprises alike will need to build the right infrastructure to keep up.
Find out more about building tomorrow’s augmented reality with edge computing at future speed.