Augmented Reality (AR) is one of the forefront technologies that will revolutionize the landscape of the next digital era. From its first development in 1968 by computer scientist Ivan Sutherland at Harvard University, AR has come a long way due to continuous evolution and development. With the rapid growth in digital technology adoption, AR is experiencing a rapid increase in inaccessibility, and more organizations and companies are using AR.
The market for AR is also increasing, corresponding to this change. Some estimates show that more than 58 million people use AR/VR while more than 93 million use AR at least once a month in the US alone. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer spending in AR/VR went down in 2020. According to Statistics, the consumer spending in AR/VR was around 6.87 billion US Dollars. However, there is no doubt that this market will rise drastically after 2021, with estimations suggesting the rise will reach about 72.8 billion US Dollars in 2024 as more companies are using AR. It goes on to show that the AR market has high expectations. Consequently, companies and industries across the globe are trying to use AR for various purposes.
Due to the high interest of companies in AR technology, numerous industries across the spectrum are starting to integrate AR into their systems. Therefore, it is expected that the industrial usage of AR technology will be more than three times larger than the consumer market by 2023. Furthermore, with the development in the digital age, AR has huge expectations all around, with precise estimations that AR will become as prominent as mobile devices are in the current market.
Different companies or organizations use AR for various purposes. Some companies use it for enhancing the consumer experience on their platform, some for upgrading their R&D technology. In contrast, others use AR to enable efficient product development or for optimizing their supply chain. AR is already in use across various healthcare, aviation, robotics, tourism, marketing, public safety, entertainment, and many more. So as technology improves, AR will also increase in its adoption and development along with its use cases and accessibility.
What is AR?
Augmented Reality (AR) is an immersive reality technology that facilitates the creation of interactive experiences. AR is a tech that enables interactive experiences with real-world objects and environments with the help of digital elements. AR converges real-world objects and their environment with computer-generated digital elements, overlays, and sensory feedback, which is why companies are using AR. These digital elements and sensory feedback include visual graphics or sound, haptic feedback, graphic overlay, and other sensory information. These elements and data are generally delivered through AR headsets or AR systems used to perceive AR.
These elements in an AR system can be both constructive or destructive. For example, a productive feature adds information, overlays, or graphics to the natural environment while a dangerous element tries to mask an object or environment in the real world. However, during these processes, the ultimate goal of an AR system is to blend these elements so that it becomes indistinguishable from the physical world itself. This seamless integration of these digital elements in the physical environment makes AR systems capable of immersing users in an AR environment.
Generally, the use of AR follows its integration with other technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). To leverage the full potential of technologies like AR, AI is essential. 3D AI and simulations make AR much more fruitful and advantageous. Augmented reality technology frequently uses AI systems such as expert analytics systems, speech recognition, object detection & recognition, natural language processing, and computer vision.
AR experiences are delivered through various systems. AR headsets are the most common. In addition, AR glasses and AR cameras in smartphones are used prominently to deliver AR experiences to the user. Leading AR companies also use heads up displays (HUD), contact lenses, handheld displays, eye taps, and projection mapping through projectors to deliver AR experiences.
How More Companies Are Using AR?
AR technology has so many use cases in broad spectra of different fields that the possibilities seem endless. Archaeologists can use AR in various researches by augmenting landscapes and archaeological features of other sites. Architects can use AR for visualization and designing of projects before finalizing and starting them. Urban city planning and design are also possible through AR, where planners use AR to plan and demonstrate cities accurately. Institutions can use AR in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) education. Visualization and demonstration of concepts and theories with real-time interaction & corresponding response can be very effective for students in education.
Industries and Manufacturers also can use AR as a substitute for paper manuals, designs, and planning. Works like maintenance, scanning, and analyzing construction sites, maintenance sites, etc., can be more efficient, fast, and safe with AR. With AR, monitoring, analyzing, and planning dangerous locations can be safer and more accessible. Apart from this, AR benefits commercial industries where visualization, product display, and product interaction are essential for companies. AR can enhance all these consumer experiences with a very high probability of increasing sales and engagement of consumers with the company drastically.
Alongside this, AR applications are also helpful for online advertisements and consumer interaction. Even literature is starting to adopt AR along with its high use in visual arts and creative display. Moreover, AR has a high developmental rate for its opportunities and possibilities in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). The possibilities with AR are endless, and companies are starting to utilize these possibilities and the endless benefits brought forward by them.
Other uses of AR come in industries related to social interaction, games, and entertainment, product innovation, healthcare planning & practice, and training in different fields like military, aviation, healthcare, navigation, and workplaces. Apart from these, there are numerous other industries where AR is in use currently. The use cases of AR are so vast that it can be in service with virtually all industries and companies that have some form of digital networking or involvement.
Why Companies Are Using AR?
Augmented reality application in big companies boils down to one thing: the AR benefits and advantages. AR enables tremendous opportunities, all the while reducing resources and costs for companies.
Any digital technology is more advantageous than traditional physical form due to its portability, scalability, adaptability, ease of use, and efficiency. It’s also true with AR. One of the significant advantages of using AR is its ability to adapt to various use cases. For instance, car manufacturers can use AR to visualize their next car model in real-world environments and not only on computer screens or papers. They can use AR to design and plan the car to make changes and visualize them instantly. AR also presents them with opportunities to test and assess various designs with the ease of use, portability, and ability to make real-time changes in hand. AR also lets the car manufacturers span out their manufacturing process in different steps to minimize workloads or automate them and optimize and make them more efficient.
Not only for internal use, but car manufacturers can also use AR for product visualization and presentation among their consumers with the immersive experience as if the car is in their real-world environment. It will not only increase engagement with the product and the company but also enhance the consumer experience. Therefore, the company engagement increases with an immediate increase in company sales as well.
Moreover, AR experience presents companies with opportunities like rapid design and development, product innovation, advancement in R&D technology with endless possibilities, and efficient workflow, all with drastically reduced costs, resources, and an immersive experience for experiments.
For other industries like robotics, AR makes even more sense. AR tech companies let robotic engineering teams augment the real world with virtual elements making robots even more innovative and more intelligent. Apart from this, AR also presents considerable benefits in the consumer space and e-commerce market. The adoption of AR gadgets is increasing day by day, offering companies opportunities to attract consumers with AR capabilities and advancements. Furthermore, E-commerce companies are using AR for consistent and realistic product visualizations and customization features for consumers to help them choose the right product with even more immersion. Due to this, 3D product visualization with AR is also a rapidly increasing market, and more and more companies are using AR.
Companies like Google and Apple are a few companies that use augmented reality for better user interaction and to enable additional features in their products. For instance, Google primarily uses AR with Google Maps for better user interaction and navigation features. With AR in Google Maps, users can point their camera towards a location to enable overlays in their phone display about navigation and location information. Likewise, Google Lens also uses AR for information purposes. Similarly, Apple uses AR cameras to provide users with features to scale and measure distances. Finally, Facebook uses AR cameras to enable animations, stickers, and overlays during calls for more interactive experiences.
Due to all these advantages, AR possesses numerous use cases in a single industry and a wide variety of industries. As a result, big organizations and companies are using AR. Leaders in augmented reality worldwide are already investing big in AR with a firm belief that AR will be the next revolutionary tech to enable the next generation of the technological landscape.