Augmented reality may sound like something very futuristic, but it’s very likely that you’ve already used Augmented Reality (AR) in some fashion. Have you ever played Pokemon Go? Used a Snapchat Lens? Perhaps an Instagram face filter? Memoji and Facemoji are pretty hot these days, especially combined with TikTok. AR works by superimposing digital images, text, 3D renders, or animation over a live view of the real world.
AR has been around for a while, its popularity driven primarily by entertainment and social networks. With the release of Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore, we’re seeing an explosion of new applications taking advantage of spatial computing, from retail to support to supply chain. Here are a few of the ways that big brands are already incorporating AR into their strategy.
View Products At Home
Figuring out how something will look in your own home while standing in a warehouse or a showroom can be challenging at best, even more so if you’re shopping online. Making design choices in a foreign context can lead to disappointment and the hassle of dealing with a product return.
That’s the thinking behind IKEA Place, an augmented reality app that lets customers drop true-to-scale IKEA products directly into their homes to experiment with placement and styles. You don’t have to guess if that sofa will fit or the color will clash, just drop it in and take a look.
Learn Faster, Repair Faster
Beyond consumer applications, many organizations are working with AR to improve their training and support programs. Companies like Boeing, Renault, and even the US Navy are developing AR-based training and maintenance applications to better train and equip service technicians.
Bosch is a pioneer in the use of AR for automotive workshops through their Common Augmented Reality Platform (CAP), allowing repair technicians to see overlays of vehicle details that might otherwise be hidden, such as cable routing behind the dashboard or obstructed engine components. Bosch also leverages the platform for technical documentation, repair manuals, and sales and training programs.
AR In The Supply Chain
AR is increasingly playing a role in the entire supply chain, from product creation to warehousing, inventory, order picking, shipping, retailing, and purchasing. Using a suite of products from the Swiss-based company Scandit, it’s possible to enhance virtually every touchpoint in a product’s lifecycle with Augmented Reality feedback that gives users real-time product information directly on a smart device screen, enabling them to make better decisions.
Macquarium has recently completed some conceptual and proof-of-concept work in spatial computing for a large scale packaging manufacturer, using Augmented Reality for measurements in the field and in-place product visualization for a packaging sales tool.
There was a time when the barrier to entry for Augmented Reality development was high, but thanks to the availability of SDKs like ARKit and ARCore, and product suites like Scandit and Torch, there is no excuse not to innovate and test. If you’re considering any of the above use cases, let's talk about how AR could improve the customer experience.