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Technology is rapidly developing nowadays, which provides the representatives of the general public not only to maintain their routines actions, such as to contact relatives but also to do business. Augmented reality (AR), in this perspective, is a versatile technology that allows entrepreneurs to improve and streamline their basic organizational processes. According to Kipper and Rampolla (2012), it is “a variation of a Virtual Environment… that gives us the ability to bring usable information into the visual spectrum in real-time wherever we are” (p. 4).
It supplements real things by computer-generated ones instead of developing new objects and environments. Professionals believe that with the course of time this technology will become even more popular and will be successfully used in different spheres. This paper will prove that AR can be utilized in business applications so that organizations can increase their profit and attract more customers. It will be based on the qualitative information obtained with the help of a literature review and its analysis.
Up-to-date sources will be used to discuss the usability of AR in different industries, real application examples, advantages and disadvantages of AR observed by scientists and professionals, and AR trends to expect in the future.
Usability of Augmented Reality
Today AR is already used by various organizations. The representatives of the general public can try it when playing games, studying, using advanced map services, visiting digital museums, or shopping. A person can use AR as a physician who tries to find out what is wrong with his patient and as a manager who is sitting in his office and is trying to learn something.
AR provides an opportunity to maintain remote collaboration between the employees of one or different organizations. Different geographical locations and distances are not a problem anymore, as there is an opportunity to create other people’s environments nearby. During a meeting, for example, office employees can get in touch with remote workers so that they work as one team. This innovative technology allows to make it as if everybody is actually in one room.
As a result, the employees will be more engaged in the meeting. What is more critical, even such critical for the normal communication things as eye contact and mimics can be noticed, which is likely to have a positive influence on the outcomes of the meeting (Uzialko, 2016). AR can also be used to interact with customers. In the framework of diverse markets, they are often difficult to reach face-to-face. AR can give them a chance to get to know more about the company and improve loyalty, which can benefit businesses.
Training and education can also be enhanced with the help of new technology. AR can be used to generate interactive environments, studying in which students are likely to achieve more knowledge and skills than when taking part in an ordinary lecture or with the help of online education.
AR even provides educators with the opportunity to discuss with the students complex processes step-by-step. In this way, their knowledge and skills improve and the very process of learning streamlines. These methods can also help to increase teachers’ involvement, as they receive an opportunity to give prompts, clarifications, or additional instructions. As a result, the capability of the training and educational process will become greater.
AR is likely to turn even ordinary representatives of the general public into masters in different spheres. For example, it can provide an inexperienced user with a possibility to repair complex machines (Uzialko, 2016). This technology can be used to display step-by-step instructions so that the users can see how each tool looks and how and where it should be put. Such kind of virtual repair is likely to make the process much easier and less time-consuming. It is likely to be extremely advantageous in the workplace, where an engineer needs to deal with numerous repairs and constructions every day.
In the framework of e-commerce, AR turns out to be a critical technology that provides the customers with the opportunity to have a closer look at the goods they are willing to buy and even to try them on. Showcasing improves greatly due to this innovative technology, and it is even likely to increase the number of customers who are willing to purchase things online. It allows the users to place pieces of furniture in their homes so that they can see whether they suit or not and prevent product returns or refunds. AR allows dealing with the drawbacks of physical showrooms, such as the possibility to visualize a thing in a particular place. As a result, both customers and businesses can benefit, as there is an opportunity to inspect a product and reduce expenses to the business.
AR can also be useful when exploring new places. It gives users a chance to have informative and interactive tours and maps (Furht, 2011). For example, when a realtor shows houses or apartments, one needs to take his or her clients to various locations, which is rather time-consuming and exhausting. With the help of AR, one can avoid the necessity to go somewhere and give clients a chance to walk through. In addition to that, it provides an opportunity to see how a building or changed with the course of time, depicting renovations in a graphic overlay. Deliveries can resort to maps created with the help of AR. Thus, they can find out where to go without taking their eyes off the road.
E-commerce and retail receive many advantages due to improved customer experience. Four years ago, an online store, PrestaShop, took a risk and adopted the AR platform. It turned out to be the first successful utilization of Webcam Social Shopper that works with the help of a computer or smartphone camera and a digital mirror. With its help, the customers of PrestaShop received a possibility to try on all those clothes that were sold online.
Even though the clients were not able to touch the material and determine the actual fit of a product, they were extremely satisfied. As it turned out to be perfect for matching colors, Banana Flame also adopted this software. As a result, this online shop increased the conversion rate by 50% (Shestakova, 2015).
Education and training can benefit from the help of AR, as it provides more advanced opportunities for organizations to enhance skills and knowledge of their personnel. For example, a well-known aerospace company, Boeing, used special tablets. They enhanced engineers’ training so that their accuracy improved by 90% and speed by 30%. Beijing Research Center for IT in Agriculture also resorted to AR. It created a new agricultural training system that allowed us to reach better outcomes. The utilization of “the Lua script language, as well as 3D Max and Maya solutions” provided the scientists with the opportunity to create a realistic model of a strawberry (Shestakova, 2015, para. 10).
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The Healthcare industry also benefits from AR. The Anatomy 4D application provides both students and professionals with the opportunity to explore the human body, taking a trip into it. As a result, people can have a closer look at the way organs and systems function using their iPhones and iPads. In the USA, AR is widely used to investigate the patient’s vasculature. The app AccuVein already proved to be very advantageous. It was used on more than 10 million people, and nurses turned out to be almost 4 times more likely to give an injection from the first attempt. This app can also be used to benefit professionals who work in the sphere of beauty and give Botox injections (Burns, 2016).
Drivers who work in the transportation industry can use AR software to meet their needs on the road. For example, BMW utilizes ConnectedDrive that works with the help of GPS data, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. Such kind of software provides drivers with the opportunity to find the best routes. It can also be utilized to control fuel consumption. What is more critical, AR enhances driver’s skills in vehicle repair and maintenance so that they are likely to face fewer difficulties and deliver products in time.
Of course, the entertainment industry can obtain lots of advantages when using AR. It gives the users an opportunity to enter the virtual world of unreal creatures and imagine that they are part of it. Sony Corporation that is known all over the world uses AR to attract more clients with the Invizimals monsters, for example. Professionals even believe that the representatives of the general public will download up to 500 million games based on AR-enhanced in five years (Shestakova, 2015).
Among the most remarkable examples of AR utilization with the benefit of the business sphere are cases of Bausch & Lomb, Snapchat, and Pokémon GO. Bausch & Lomb uses AR application to provide its customers with the opportunity to try on its latest Ray-Ban styles. With the help of an iPhone’s camera, this software generates a virtual model of a person’s face. Using it, customers can easily put on hundreds of Ray-Ban glasses from the catalog.
Having an interactive photorealistic image, they can see whether the product suits them or not and make the decision-making process easier, as the picture can be observed from various angles. The social media platform, Snapchat, which is extremely popular among the representatives of the general public, also utilizes AR. With the help of the smartphone’s camera, it allows to add unreal features and object to people’s faces, such as rainbows instead of tears. As a result, the platform became even more popular so that videos created with it help are seen more than 6bn times a day. This year, Pokémon GO was released, and it gained popularity immediately.
More than 100 million downloads were maintained in the first 30 days of its appearance on the market. Taking real locations as the basis, it provides the players with the opportunity to search for Pokémons and catch them (Shestakova, 2015). In this way, the representatives of the general public stopped playing at home and went outside, which allowed them to find like-minded individuals and make new friends.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Augmented Reality
When considering whether a company needs to start using AR and maximizing it, its leaders should focus on those benefits this technology can offer. First of all, it can be used to ensure the employees of the organization that it is able to develop and adopt innovations that are associated with sustainable growth and competitiveness. A lot of AR software focuses on customers and attracts them so that higher sales rates can be reached, which results in increased income. In this way, organizations can also enhance the skills and knowledge of their employees as training programs include more effective approaches. In addition to that instructions and guidelines become more detailed and involving (Lindsey, 2015).
Still, it cannot be denied that AR has a range of disadvantages as well. This software threatens customers’ privacy. Using it, strangers can easily come up to a person and steal his or her private information. Those users who have experience in IT can create their own layers of content and cause information overload. What is more, in some situations the use of AR can be considered inappropriate. With the course of time, lots of advertisements are likely to appear when using AR software so that people will have to deal with unwanted information.
Trends to Expect in the Future
As with the course of time, more organizations start using AR, it is expected to develop and expand even more. Different industries will adopt AR software and use smartphones in the office for business purposes. Professionals believe that there will be an opportunity to find better marketing solutions with the help of this technology. E-commerce will become more popular among the representatives of the general public with the help of AR, as all online organizations will be able to provide them almost with the same range of opportunities ordinary shops offer. What is more, there will be no necessity to go somewhere, spend time, and increase expenditures.
People are expected to have a chance to try vacations and test driving virtually. As a result, the number of AR applications will increase, and news organizations will enter the sphere. Even some built-in virtual reality features can be soon seen on smartphones. AR office spaces can appear so that everything except for people, bare walls, and windows will be virtual. In this way, cheap multifunctionality will be reached. A voice command may be used to change the environment in no time (Lindsey, 2015).
In this way, it cannot be denied that a lot of different industries can benefit greatly if all companies that operate in them follow the example of those organizations that accept innovative technologies and utilize AR that makes a lot of things better, including socializing shopping or having fun. It is already used by many well-known companies and proves to have a positive influence on performance. In the nearest future, the representatives of the general public and businesses will be able to have a wide variety of AR apps. They will allow organizations to provide their customers with immersive and personalized experiences that were not achievable earlier.
Burns, M. (2016). Deeper learning with QR codes and augmented reality. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Furht, B. (2011). Handbook of augmented reality. New York, NY: Springer.
Kipper, G., & Rampolla, J. (2012). Augmented reality: An emerging technologies guide to AR. Waltham, MA: Elsevier.
Lindsey. (2015). Augmented reality in business: Boom or bane? Web.
Shestakova, M. (2015). Augmented reality in business: Benefits get real. Web.
Uzialko, A. (2016). Augmented reality check: Innovative ways businesses are embracing AR. Web.