How augmented reality is disrupting industries

Have you ever been in a pitch meeting with a client and failed to fully visualise a product you want to design for them? Or have you struggled to communicate ideas to customers? Well, augmented reality (AR) could be the tool for you.

AR, the overlaying of virtual content onto the real world, is virtual reality’s sister technology and together they are a market set to be worth $108 billion by 2021 (forecast down from $120 billion just recently, in line with the latest research published by Digi-Capital). And AR is set to take the lion’s share of it because of its practical applications.

The technology can bring ideas, plans and products to life, increasing engagement and interaction and provide users with a richer insight. This in turn could increase the longevity and potential value of client relationships and lead to a higher rate of retention and customer loyalty.

Here are a few examples of the benefits of AR:

Architecture & property

Architects and property developers typically work off of blueprints and drawings. This makes it harder for them to capture and analyse data and share information with contractors.

AR, however, can enable them to bring plans to life through a 3D environment before a brick has even been laid. It also allows them to experience the interior of a building before a project has been completed.

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As for estate agents, they’re able to take potential buyers to properties before they’re complete and allow them to picture their car on the driveway or what walls would like painted a certain colour.

AR can help overcome the challenges that showcasing property through VR can bring. And it can bridge the gap between seeing an unfinished project on a screen and in its physical space.

Read more: Are robots really here to steal our jobs?

Retail

Brands and companies continue to look for innovative ways to market to consumers. Brick-and-mortar stores in particular are becoming increasingly connected, as consumers turn to their smartphones and other devices for a seamless shopping experience. They want digital content and digital options more and more.

AR can help reduce shopping stress and that classic problem: a shopper finds the product they want, but aren’t informed enough to make the purchase, so they leave, planning to do more research on the product at home and then buy it online.

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By building AR apps, brands and companies can allow shoppers to find out information they want by simply pointing their smartphone camera at a product, for instance. This could be anything, from allergy labels to fashion supply chain facts.

According to AR research by Accenture, 61 to 88 per cent of shoppers are more likely to make buy a product if AR is part of their shopping experience.

Danish company LEGO has previously allowed in-store shoppers to hold any LEGO box against a flat screen kiosk and witness its contents come to life.

Finance

Money makes the world go round and AR can help it turn faster – because finding out all the information needed to make a purchase is one thing for a shopper, but completing a transaction can be an entire problem in itself.

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Whether it’s in-store or online, getting to the checkout can involve queuing and fumbling around with cards and details. AR can streamline the process.

Last year, Visa worked with fashion brand House of Holland to produce a proof-of-concept that allowed attendees at its menswear launch to use an AR app to purchase designs worn on the runway.

The potential to point, click and pay with a smartphone camera can transform business too, especially for those operating in the hardware and logistics sector. A lot of time can be wasted on inventory and mundane but necessary admin and paperwork. So anything that speeds it up and allows business owners and staff to focus on more important tasks could be hugely profitable in the long-run.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Image from gettyimages.

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