There is no doubt that technology is evolving at a rapid pace, and augmented reality (AR) technologies in particular, are an excellent example of how a far-flung idea from science fiction books has entered daily use technology with extensive benefits.
AR has been making headlines over the past couple of years, particularly through apps like Pokémon GO, which augment animated characters on your phone screen against the real world around you, making for a truly immersive experience. Did you know there are 69 million active Pokémon Go users who have generated $1.8bn of revenue for the brand up until now!
But what other value adding applications could this innovative technology harvest, and what do the next few years look like for such a widely adopted platform?
What Is Augmented Reality?
Augmented Reality (AR) takes the real world we observe with our senses and then adds/augments a layer of digital data or imagery via our mobile device screen. Ultimately, you’re overlaying digital information onto real world imagery, creating a whole new experience.
It’s different from Virtual Reality (VR), which places you in a fully immersed digital environment through a headset, often tricking the brain you’re actually there.
Using AR, you can overlay any information you like onto the real world, from text to images, diagrams and videos — and that opens up a whole range of opportunities. AR is set to become the leading immersive technology due to the fact we all own a mobile device with which AR can be explored.
AR has been steadily growing in popularity over the last few years, but now, we’re on the edge of some pretty exciting developments that could change the way we interact with AR forever. The question now isn’t ‘when will it happen?’, but ‘where will we see the most impact?’
Widespread Use Of Technology
Right now, the AR market is worth around $27 billion (£22.4 billion). Predictions show that in just a few short years, that market will truly explode, so much so that by 2022, the AR market will be worth an estimated $209.2 billion (£161.7 billion). This figure includes 216 million active AR gamers and over 1 billion domestic AR users.
AR will be adopted from gaming to shopping, education, healthcare, marketing and even interior design (check out the Ikea and Dulux Paint AR apps). Whilst a comprehensive understanding of the technology, development costs and convincing use cases are the main barriers to entry right now, expect industry wide adoption over the next 2 years into the mainstream. This will largely be driven my marketers of early adoption brands.
Much like mobile phones, which revolutionised the modern world in the 80’s and 90s, AR will bring about another advanced wave of technology uptake. By 2020, our customer experiences, industries and economies will all look very different, thanks to AR.
A New Kind Of Marketing
With so many new tools at your disposal, there is no room for another ‘copycat’ marketing campaign. Businesses who want to stand out from the crowd need to build upon the power of AR for their social media and general marketing efforts. And that’s where AR comes in. AR has been widely adopted by many social media platforms including SnapChat and Instagram signalling wider consumer adoption.
AR helps brands create a lasting impression, something a little different yet impressive, potentially leading to greater brand advocacy, peer sharing and loyalty. Brands can also use the gamification capability brought in by AR to increase brand engagement, making it easier to interact with the process and making the buying experience more fun.
Soon AR implementations like this will be a staple in e-commerce businesses.
Ultimately, we will probably see the decline of traditional advertising and marketing efforts over the next few years, which will be replaced with more tailored, gamified and interactive AR-based campaigns.
Transforming The Healthcare Industry
Many different industries will benefit from AR technology, but arguably none of them are quite as revolutionary and beneficial to society as with healthcare.
AR is already playing a huge role in positively changing the way medicine is studied, applied in research, and how we manage patients and diseases. In the years since AR’s first use in medicine (in 2005, where it was used to find subcutaneous veins), AR has carved an important place in doctors’ and nurses’ daily routines, as well as patients’ lives.
Now, the next move is to bring more significant, even lifesaving information into a doctor’s field of view to improve the quality of care given. For example, AR can help medical students understand and learn anatomy; aid doctors and nurses in locating veins; and find cancerous cells, tumours and bleeding during surgeries to further improve care.
If a surgeon needs to perform a complicated operation, there might not be enough time to check if the patient has a certain type of allergy. Instead of searching through piles of paperwork from A&E, AR gives doctors the ability to view all of the relevant data on their AR screens in seconds, saving time and even lives.
The Educational Revolution
AR is also finding its way to our children’s classrooms, with encouraging results when being used in education through a far more interactive and immersive learning environment than a text book. Information recall testing is showing surprisingly high results.
Most schools today have access to tablets for learning, with this trend set to increase. Throw in some machine learning to the AR experience and the classrooms of the future may be teacherless (we don’t advocate that by the way!)
Here at Orbital Media, we believe that AR can positively and significantly evolve almost every industry with the right use case and purpose. We are working with businesses and organisations who want to be at the cutting edge of this new technology. In particular, we’ve been working with healthcare organisations to solve some of their most challenging problems, including the development of Myspira – the world’s first AR asthma training aid app for children – through our partnership with the University of Suffolk and Innovate UK.
Featuring a very cute character, the child is educated about asthma and how to manage the condition through unique gamification techniques and fun-loving graphics. We’ve proven that AR is far more immersive as a learning environment than 2D. Using technologies like this, we help businesses drive innovation and create new, exciting solutions to real-world problems.
AR Could Change The World
AR has the capability to change the way we see the world, how we interact with it and each other, and what we design for in our future. When utilised to its full potential, augmented reality can take concepts and technologies we thought were only in science fiction and bring them to life.
To find out more, just get in touch with us today.