The technology is fast rising in popularity and the possibilities are almost limitless.
Have you ever virtually tried on a pair of glasses to see if they suit your face? Or used your smartphone camera to check if a sofa would fit your space? These activities are augmented reality (AR) at its finest.
As businesses and technologies evolve, AR has been on the rise – and fast. According to Statista, the AR, virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality market is expected to reach $300 billion by 2024. It’s finding new uses every day, and adoption is spreading across a variety of industries.
We’ll look at how AR is impacting business, and more specifically, the retail and healthcare sectors.
First things first, what is AR? It’s an enhanced version of the physical world that's achieved by overlaying digital visual elements, sound or other sensory stimuli. AR creates an immersive experience, with interactions that take place in real time. Experiences can be delivered through a device you use every day, like an app on a smartphone, or a device for the specific purpose of AR, like smart glasses.
AR is different from virtual reality (VR), although people often use the terms interchangeably. VR technology creates its own cyber environment whereas AR adds to the existing world.
When you think of AR, your first thought may be the gaming and entertainment industries. AR has transformed this space. But its capabilities have caught on across numerous industries, changing the way businesses operate and how consumers interact with them.
The retail industry is just one example. AR experiences in retail have grown with the increase in the direct-to-consumer model and fewer brick-and-mortar stores. If people can shop online with convenience but still have the luxury of “trying on” merchandise, it’s a win-win. AR bridges that gap.
One company allows consumers to try on hundreds of products – lipstick to eyeshadows and even false eyelashes – via their app. It essentially gives consumers a virtual makeover. This type of experience is available for clothes, wall color, furniture, tattoos and haircuts, to name a few.
When it comes to the healthcare industry, AR provides tangible benefits for both patients and healthcare professionals. AR has become an effective tool for learning, like when it’s used to add layers to an ultrasound image for medical students to visualize underlying tissue, blood vessels, nerve, muscles and bones. It’s also being used to overlay surgical guidance during complex procedures, essentially assisting the surgeon and helping them be more precise. Phlebotomists can use AR to help them get the vein on the first prick and make blood draws easier on everyone, especially the elderly and children.
It’s common for patients to struggle to communicate their symptoms to doctors, and AR is stepping in to help make the connection. There are apps that allow doctors to simulate different conditions – from skin issues to eye problems – so that patients can confirm exactly what they’re experiencing, lead to swifter and more accurate treatment.
AR is already proving beneficial to the general population – and there are so many more opportunities for it to impact how businesses interact with consumers. As an investor, you may be interested in this area. By investing in AR technology companies or the frontrunners utilizing this technology, you can help the innovations come to fruition.
Sources: datasciencecentral.com; forbes.com; investopedia.com; fda.gov; sephora.my; onix-systems.com; medicalfuturist.com; blockchainmagazine.net; dynamics.microsoft.com