Augmented reality isn’t just for gaming or social media. Although Pokemon Go! and Snapchat may be responsible for making AR mainstream, they don’t come close to representing the boundaries of this technology.
The following examples are just a few of the more impressive ways AR will change the world for virtually everyone. Whether you’re an industrial design specialist, city planner, or merely an everyday consumer, you stand to benefit from the wide range of innovations that AR is making possible.
Changing How We Use Our Phones
When developers undertake mobile application design, they typically assume the main screen will serve as the optimal interface for their product.
This won’t be the case for much longer. To encourage digital experience teams to create more AR products, Apple released ARKit. This set of AR development tools essentially superimposes a virtual world over the real world via a phone or tablet’s camera.
Thus, the camera is more likely to serve as the primary app interface in the future. For example, instead of staring at an overhead map when navigating a new city, smartphone users will point their cameras at the street, following virtual paths to their destinations.
Gamifying the World
People tend to be more productive when a task is fun. That’s the essence of “gamifying” work.
And, thanks to AR, it will soon be much easier to turn everyday work into a game.
Perhaps you manage a retail store. You want to make sure your employees promptly engage with new customers who may need assistance. You could use an AR app to superimpose markers over new customers when they walk into your shop. When an employee asks them if they need assistance, the marker disappears, and that employee earns “points.” It’s a simple concept, but one which can be easily applied to many different work situations.
Improving the Ecommerce Experience
We don’t have to wait to see how AR will transform ecommerce. Major brands are already showing off the full potential of this technology.
Sephora, for example, wanted to give online shoppers a better idea of what their products would actually look like in the real-world. That’s why the company released an app feature which allows users to try on virtual makeup via a selfie.
IKEA has taken a similar approach. The furniture retailer offers an app through which users can place virtual pieces of furniture into their surroundings.
In the future, as wearable headsets become more popular, some brands will likely develop AR products which “highlight” their items in department stores, improving not only the ecommerce experience, but in-person shopping as well.
Making Industrial Design More Efficient
Industrial designers must be able to visualize a finished product as realistically as possible before manufacturing a prototype.
Perhaps an automotive company is developing a new vehicle. Spotting a design flaw after a prototype has been built could be a costly mistake. That’s why they make virtual 3D models first.
However, these models aren’t perfect. With AR technology, design teams can “sit” in virtual models of a new car before they start building the prototype. This increases their chances of spotting design flaws early on.
Boosting Worker Safety
In many industries, workers must vigilantly monitor their environments in order to identify safety hazards.
Obviously, this can be difficult. Human error is simply a fact of life.
With AR, that may not be a problem. Products like DAQRI’s smart helmet already serve to detect environmental anomalies that human workers might miss. It’s easy to imagine the impact this will have on employee safety.
Improving Community Planning
AR is poised to offer city and community planners major benefits.
For example, say a town board wants to assess the potential visual impact of a new proposed development in its community. AR will allow them to visualize the development in substantial detail. The board can then make a more informed approval decision.
Emergency services will also make substantial use of AR in the near future. A fire department could visualize how a fire at a particular location will impact the surrounding areas. First-responders can practice navigating virtual traffic scenarios. City leaders can even visualize how harsh weather might affect their communities.
Healthcare providers are already using AR to boost their efficiency. Nurses, for instance, use AR to find veins in patients more quickly. Medical professionals have begun experimenting with prototype AR products to train surgeons in difficult procedures.
This is just the beginning. In the near future, soldiers in combat may be able to use AR to provide medical treatment to wounded troops when medics are unavailable. AR training products can teach patients with chronic illnesses how to operate their own medical equipment.
Again, these examples merely illustrate some of the ways AR will change the world. As the technology develops, it’s highly likely that others will find unique ways to implement it. We’ll all benefit as a result.
Write by Y Media Labs