Augmented Reality Explained: How Your Business Can Benefit from It
Augmented reality for business is no longer a futuristic concept. Over the last few years, the most progressive of companies have been trying to use augmented reality or AR as a business instrument to change users’ view of reality, making it the reality that business owners want their clients to believe in.
Sony, Microsoft, IBM as well as Google and Apple are just several of the big names that are leading the way in augmented reality. Have you ever wondered how a toy-like technology has penetrated the adult world of high stakes and sensible investments? We gathered all you’d like to know about augmented reality, its variations and use cases in this article.
The Essence of Augmented Reality
Augmented reality is a technological concept that combines physical world objects with digital data. With the help of markers and sensors, algorithms locate the current position of physical objects and spot the simulated ones. Then, they render the picture that will appear on the camera. This is how AR apps work. Have you ever tried those Snapchat filters? It’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions augmented reality.
At the dawn of AR, it was digital hardware that made the reality augmented: smart glasses (you’ve definitely heard about Google Glass and all the hype surrounding it), helmets, headset computers, etc. However, the continuous improvement of smartphones and tablets made them suitable for augmented reality platforms. On top of that, smartphones have actually squeezed the bulky devices out the AR world, leaving them for virtual reality where they are of greater demand. This means that smartphone giants can’t afford to trail behind in creating Android augmented reality and iOS augmented reality tools.
AR for iOS or AR for Android: Who Will Lead the Market?
As soon as Apple had announced its framework for making AR apps, Google unveiled its equivalent. Apple vs Google, ARKit vs ARCore – the competition isn’t new and, as always, each competitor will have their evangelists. Let’s have a closer look at the AR for Android and AR for iOS options starting from the latter, keeping in mind its chronological priority.
AR for iOS: ARKit
AR for iOS is possible thanks to ARKit, a tool designed to create AR apps and games for Apple’s operating system. Although it’s a part of iOS 11, its usage is not limited to iPhone 8 or iPhone X; it fits all devices that have the Apple A9, A10 and A11 processors. ARKit-powered devices let users drop virtual objects into real-world environments and move them around using their touchscreens. It can recognize physical objects and keep track of them as the device is being moved. iOS augmented reality apps can pretty accurately detect the expression and position of a user’s face to apply different effects to it or use these facial expressions to make a 3D character.
By providing developers with instruments to create AR for iOS before Google managed to do the same and largely focusing on AR omitting VR experiments, Apple took an aggressive marketing strategy. Their main goal, of course, is to put the company into the leading position on the AR market. Still, it’s not that easy to leave Google behind. The war of giants goes on.
AR for Android: ARCore
Google’s answer to Apple’s AR framework was essentially an attempt to improve their previous AR platform called Tango. After years of development, Tango is still available on only two devices — Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and ASUS ZenFone AR. That’s nothing compared to the army of iPhone 8 or X aficionados. ARCore expands the range of AR-ready devices and potential apps with the following technological capacities:
- Motion tracking that determines both the position and orientation of the device as it moves.
- Environmental understanding so that a user can place augmented reality objects on the floor or table since ARCore can detect horizontal surfaces.
- Light estimation so that AR objects can be lighted to match the surroundings, producing an even more realistic effect.
This intense competition naturally creates a favorable environment for the quantitative increase of AR apps. It is estimated that enterprise services will help lead the growth of the AR and VR markets up to $162 billion by 2020.
Practical Use Cases of AR for Business
It’s one thing to experiment with AR inside corporate RnD labs but it’s a whole different thing to adjust augmented reality technology to your enterprise settings. With all the corporate processes, back-end system connections, ERP and other complex enterprise stuff, businesses need practical use cases and development best practices to break through with augmented-reality apps.
So, here are some useful examples of cross-functional application of AR for business purposes:
- Design. It’s quite obvious that AR is profitable for all sorts of design apps, especially interior design. Now people can virtually decorate the space around them and streamline the entire decorating process through the lens of their phone.
- Gaming. Still wondering about the popularity of AR games? Two words: “Pokemon” and “Go.” Remember all the frenzy this game drove people into? Yours may be the next one.
- Marketing. AR creates technologically impressive experiences that help engage customers. Moreover, it offers a completely new, highly personalized level of interaction. This means that the customer will be attracted by the virtual offer but will be retained by the real one.
- Entertainment. Production studios can advertise their movies using AR billboards and booths while museums can lead their exhibition using AR storytelling elements. Even music concerts can be attended virtually.
- Retail. Find matching items of clothes and buy the outfit you love by just pointing your phone at it. Are you still hesitating whether this cosmetic product will complement your complexion? Simply take a selfie and the AR app will put makeup on you.
These are just a few of the potential areas for successful implementation of AR in business. Organizations can also use AR apps for personnel training, customer demos, corporate communication and other cases.
Augmented reality for business purposes creates an unforgettable experience that attracts and retains customers. With AR, ordinary objects can become personalized and customized, which means new levels of interaction between businesses and their customers. Big brands already reap the benefits of using AR in real estate, design, gaming, education, wellness and many other industries. At the same time, entertaining AR apps leave users open-mouthed by flocks of Pokemons, ghosts and zombies walking around them.
Augmented reality is here to astound. With each passing decade, the use of AR for business will become more robust and seamless, and the recent moves by Apple and Google only prove that. It’s high time for you to decide whether the reality of your company should be augmented with such a powerful technological force.