Augmented reality has come a long way from being a wildly futuristic technology most commonly associated with gaming – remember the Pokeman Go craze? Today, AR is transforming customer experience, and is making its way into more of our day-to-day lives, shaking up traditional ways of doing business across multiple industries.
Similar to virtual reality, AR transports us beyond a 2D view of the world into a 360-degree, 3D experience. While VR immerses users into a virtual environment, AR overlays virtual objects to the real world.
Gartner identified immersive experience as one of the top 10 technology trends for 2018. Global Market Insights estimates that the AR market will jump past $50 billion by 2024, driven by adoption in retail, automotive, medical, and other industries looking to boost operational efficiency.
Five key ways AR is transforming customer experience
- Retail shopping: Pundits like to predict the demise of brick-and-mortar retail, but AR is poised to rejuvenate the industry. The technology can help retailers not only enhance the in-store experience with detailed product information, but also bring the in-store experience into the homes of consumers.
Major retailers like home furnishing giant IKEA, fast-fashion chain H&M, and cosmetics purveyor Sephora have developed interactive ways for their customers to shop and test their products.
For example, IKEA’s Place app allows customers to see how a sofa or chair will look in their homes. H&M Group last fall began testing high-definition human holograms that customers access via a smartphone or tablet to see garments in detail.
- Tourism and travel: When you’re traveling in an unfamiliar place, wouldn’t it be nice to have guidance at your fingertips? AR enables travelers to point their phone at a sight and get information. Yelp, for instance, has an AR feature called Monocle that provides data on local places.
Hotels can use AR to provide guests with wall maps that offer information about the local area, or enhance their advertising with immersive videos.
Global Market Insights expects growing adoption of AR in the travel industry to drive AR market growth.
- Customer service: Imagine pointing your phone at your malfunctioning WiFi setup and receiving guidance through a troubleshooting process, or learning detailed information regarding the make and model number to provide customer-service agents, thereby speeding the resolution time.
- Healthcare: While healthcare workers can use AR applications to learn about anatomy via 3D representations of bodies, patients also can benefit from AR. For example, doctors can use it to help patients understand surgical procedures. AR can also help ease the pain of procedures. AccuVein, for example, provides a map of veins on the skin’s surface to make it easier for a healthcare worker to access them while avoiding discomfort for the patient.
- Publishing: Augmented reality can make reading an immersive experience, bringing books and magazines to life. By pointing your phone at a printed page, a character could appear as a 3D image, a landscape could manifest, or you could instantly glean more information about a topic.