Key benefits of using augmented reality in business
Augmented reality (AR), which enhances the perception of reality, is the integration of digitised information such as computer-generated audio, text, graphics, GPS data and other effects that augment or enhance users’ real-world experience in real time. AR blends the best of the physical and digital worlds to create distinct digital experiences. The technology allows overlaying of new information on an existing physical environment and enables users to experience reality in a more engaging and heightened way. Since headsets and mobile devices are the mediums of experience, AR is easily accessible to everyone who uses a smartphone or any other hand-held device.
Organisations worldwide are pouring in millions of dollars to develop more and more sophisticated applications based on AR and virtual reality (VR). The AR market alone is expected to reach USD 61.39 billion by 2023. Consumers are also getting accustomed to the benefits of shopping from a business that is AR-enabled. In fact, over 70 per cent of online shoppers report that they would buy more often from a business that uses AR. And 40 per cent of consumers are willing to pay more if they can customise a product using AR.
There are multiple benefits of implementing AR technology in business.
Creates distinct experiences
AR creates unique digital experiences without the need of any special software or hardware. Smartphones and even web browsers are enough, making AR accessible to almost everyone. AR places digital components over physical ones and creates an almost mirage-like effect. For example, a tourist can open the AR app and point her smartphone at an interesting object. Digital snippets will immediately pop up on the screen and deliver all the information about the object. This type of AR use has been utilised by various businesses.
Eliminates cognitive overload
Handling huge chunks of information about an unfamiliar subject is always frustrating. Cognitive overload happens when an individual’s working memory is forced to handle more than it comfortably can, leading to poor decision making. AR can be the helpful assistant here since it presents information in neatly summarised snippets. For example, a leading global car manufacturer has built an app that allows drivers to use their phones or tablets to get to know their cars well and carry out basic maintenance techniques without being overloaded by information from a paper manual.
Even professional car mechanics are known to use AR to locate defective parts and understand the repair process in easily digestible snippets. During the pandemic, when travel was restricted, industrial equipment, aircraft, power plants still needed to be serviced. At this juncture, AR-enabled visual instructions and remote virtual assistance came to the rescue of many businesses.
Increases user engagement
During the initial days of AR, it was labelled as a technology for the gaming and entertainment industry. Its uses have now expanded to include many aspects of doing business. User engagement is one of them. Considered to be the gateway to many other benefits, increased user engagement means increased brand loyalty and more spending. Interactive ads, scannable product labels, store signage and catalogues are all ways to engage users.
Enables competitive market positioning
Every brand tries to distinguish itself from other brands selling the same products. So far this differentiation has been created using traditional advertising channels. With the advent of AR, brands can do more to make consumers happy. For example, a leading global sportswear brand has developed an AR tool that helps buyers find the perfect shoe size and check how a shoe would look on the buyer. All that is needed is a smartphone with a camera. Similarly, a leading paint brand allows consumers to digitally try out a shade of paint before purchasing it. Furniture and homeware brands, car brands, apparel and cosmetic brands are all jumping on to the AR bandwagon to woo customers.
Builds immersive training modules
Organisations can now create immersive training modules for employees without having to break the bank. With AR-based tools, employees can easily visualise and simulate various situational scenarios during the training process. Using data analytics, an interactive AR-based evaluation system can also be used to evaluate training modules, operational efficiency, employee productivity or any other activity.
Implements real-time analytics
Data analytics provides organisations with actionable data that can be used for monitoring operations, making strategic decisions and for security. In fact, a report presented at the Gartner® Data & Analytics Summit 2022 stated that 80 per cent of the businesses surveyed reported higher revenues because of real-time data analytics.
AR can make the process even more efficient by integrating real-time analytics on site. Systems can be monitored in real time and necessary adjustments can be made to boost efficiency. When critical processes are integrated into a data analytics system, the AR app being used can create visual representation of the data along with valuable insights and that enables the operator to adjust process parameters on the go, and thus boost efficiency.
AR has become a critical tool for businesses today. In the retail world, it is only a matter of time before every popular brand adopts augmented reality in ecommerce for its shopping experience. AR can also change experiences for millions of people with different disabilities. For example, AR smart glasses can be used to gather product information by shoppers who cannot move their hands while AR smartphones can help the visually impaired by collecting all the information about products laid out on a shelf. AR-powered headsets can also help visually impaired users navigate a new space. All of these are undeniable business opportunities besides being tools to increase accessibility for persons with certain disadvantages.
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