The Role of AR in Non-Consumer Industries

Augmented reality is well known for enhancing customer journeys for consumer brands, but what can it do for other industries?

Simon Patchett

Augmented Reality (AR) is one of the latest innovations in technology that blends elements of the real world with the virtual.

AR is used to enhance your perception of reality and experiences by superimposing computer-generated images onto real-world environments. One of the most popular examples to be found today is the filters in Snapchat (and now Facebook and Instagram). These apps let users choose options that give them realistic cat ears or allow a snowman to pop up next to you when looking through your phone.

Historically, AR has been used primarily in gaming and consumer content marketing. There are endless possibilities for consumers to try on products without the item, see furniture they haven’t bought yet in their living room and scan film posters to find out more information.

Sephora introduced an augmented reality experience that let customers try on products before buying. The technology superimposed different makeup onto the customer’s face. This then gave them the confidence to decide whether or not the shade matched them. This completed a big customer journey for Sephora who found that online customers wouldn’t risk buying products that they thought may not suit them.

 

Augmented Reality in Education

It’s no secret that people learn in different ways. Some people thrive off a vibrant and varied study environment while others prefer to knuckle down. One thing scientists can agree on is that mixing up education can do wonders when learning and augmented reality is perfect for this. AR can explain abstract and difficult concepts that normally would be hard to understand, students are often more engaged as the content is interactive, and in terms of training, AR can be used to perform a virtual practice (think practice surgery for doctors).

Civilisations AR by the BBC is the perfect example of how augmented reality is creating engaging content for educational purposes. The app lets users explore 3D rendered artifacts from museums around the UK. The experience is further enriched with images, annotations, and audio that add valuable information. For schools, this is a fantastic way to have students engaged in something they would not normally be able to see.

A study on the effect of AR on students titled Applications of Augmented Reality in Informal Science Learning concluded that Outcomes were consistent across all of the studies reviewed in that participants showed both an increase in conceptual knowledge and increases in topic interest and engagement.’ It would be interesting to see what a more recent study would find with the newer applications of AR in education.

 

Augmented-Reality-AR-Education

 

Augmented Reality in Construction

In the construction industry augmented reality has huge scope to help every aspect of the process from design through to safety training. This allows companies to streamline their projects by keeping them on schedule and prevents expensive reworking.

The SmartReality app allows users to bypass creating expensive and cumbersome models used in architecture by creating a visualised version straight from the blueprints. These visualisations allow people to inspect details in 3D and instantly see what the finished building will look like. Greg Hughes, President of Contract Construction has said, ”We are able to capture the attention of audiences who historically were unable to comprehend two-dimensional plans.” Not only can this be used to view large scale buildings, but also insides of walls, pumps and other smaller-scale areas of construction.

Some examples of practical uses could be:Smart-Reality-Augmented

  • Project planning
  • Automated measurements for greater accuracy
  • Project modifications
  • On-site project information
  • Team collaboration
  • Accurate design analysis for both designers and architects
  • Safety training with virtual scenarios

However, there are some limitations to augmented reality in construction including the usual problems with digital processes. A strong internet connection is a must, and while trying to build projects in a timely and efficient manner, this can take a back seat on many busy construction sites. Another problem is that introducing AR in the first place would be a steep learning curve for any individual. There will have to be further training to ensure that it is being used correctly and to its full potential. This in itself could deter companies from investing in the technology.

 

Augmented Reality in Healthcare

Usually, when technology meets healthcare there can be an air of apprehension. With so much at stake, some people find it difficult to let go and have technology take over rather than have patients cared for personally. Augmented reality has massive scope when it comes to the healthcare industry. Possibly one of the reasons why it seems so widely accepted is due to the healthcare professional being at the heart of the process.

 

accu-vain-arm

 

Accu Vein is a prime example of a company using AR to enhance patient experience and make practices easier for healthcare professionals. One of their AR products is the Vein Illuminator that allows the user to light up a patients arm and track exactly where their veins are. According to the company, this has given 45% fewer escalations, saved $4.25 per patient ($352,498 annually) and increased the likelihood of a successful first stick by 3.5 times. The positives seem to be inexhaustive.

Some examples of practical uses could be:

  • Diagnosis and planning
  • Simulation training in surgery and dentistry
  • Treatment for depression, autism, phobia, pain management, and addictions
  • Rehabilitation from health problems such as stroke and dementia

 

Final Thoughts

Augmented reality has scope to branch out into all industries and improve not only B2C and B2B marketing activities, but also how services work to give an enhanced experience. As a fairly new technology, there is an endless scope of what AR can achieve for us. While its ability to sell is non-disputable, there are many more practical applications that will lift society as a whole if invested in healthcare, construction, and education.