You may have come across the term augmented reality (AR) several times back in 2016 when Niantic launched the super addictive game, Pokémon Go. The game enabled players to physically move around in their surroundings for exploring the map and collecting unique Pokémon. You may have also encountered Pikachu or Charizard at the nearest pizza joint. This interactive experience where computer-generated elements are blended with the real-world environment is called AR. Fortune Business Insights™ mentions in a report that the augmented reality market is projected to reach USD 125.32 billion by 2026. This technology is gaining immense popularity across the globe on account of the recent advancements in sensors, content, computation, and graphics. It is further enhancing the user experience.
What are the Key Benefits of AR?
- AR is a cost-effective alternative to other media platforms.
- It is personal and mobile, thereby providing access to a large number of smartphone users.
- AR is capable of surging interaction and engagement. Hence, it delivers a richer user experience.
- It conveys responsiveness and innovation from ultra-modern brands.
- It can boost the perceived value of brands and their products.
Can Retailers Replicate In-store Experiences with Augmented Reality?
AR is nowadays being considered to be the future of the retail industry. It not only makes shopping fun, but also provides in-store experiences that educate, engage, and entertain customers. Also, retailers will be able to increase both in-store and online sales. As customers will get better product exposure, the rate of returns will eventually decline.
Amazon, for instance, unveiled its latest AR shopping features through the Room Decorator tool in August 2020. It would help customers to virtually decorate their home with furniture from Amazon, as well as third-party sellers. At the same time, they can visualize multiple items at once and can edit them whenever required. The feature is presently available for only some of the iOS users. However, within the next few weeks, everyone will have access to the same.
Similarly, LipHue, India’s first custom made lipstick studio, introduced its AR-enabled e-commerce beauty platform in August 2020. The platform lets customers create their own lip shade and try it virtually before making the final purchase. The company’s main aim is to help people find the perfect shade of lipstick that would define them individually. They can also select their preferences of fragrance, finish, and colors. Once the order is placed, the product is handcrafted in the studio.
How will AR Technology Support Medical Training amid COVID-19?
AR puts information into eyesight rapidly and users do not lose touch with reality. These novel characteristics are anticipated to be a driving force in the future of healthcare. Currently, the world is facing an unprecedented impact across the business landscape because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the field of healthcare is not an exception. Medical professionals can be given AR-enabled interactive & efficient training that can further streamline the process of learning new procedures and equipment. The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused shortages of nurses, clinicians, and other medical staff. In such cases, AR-enabled programs can be used to train the new staff as quickly as possible.
Inovus Medical, a manufacturer of surgical and medical simulation equipment, for instance, announced its plan to increase the access to surgical training equipment in the U.S. In August 2020, Dr Elliot Street, CEO, declared, “The ongoing pandemic has halted all the practical learning in medical institutions as we are practicing social distancing. Our simulation technology will help every trainee surgeon to continue learning.” One of the officials also stated that since conventional surgeries were stopped amid the pandemic, the demand for Inovus Medical’s AR-enabled surgical training products skyrocketed exponentially.
The Avengers Effect: Mars Kapadia Invents Smart Glasses with Arduino Nano Every
In August 2020, Mars Kapadia, a 16-year-old technology enthusiast from Arizona, announced the development of his own pair of AR-enabled smart glasses. It took around eighteen months for him to create this prototype. It is a blend of an ‘Arduino Nano Every’ microcontroller and a pair of blue frames. He was inspired by Tony Stark’s E.D.I.T.H. sunglasses to develop his own pair. He has named the glasses the ‘World’s First TOLED Smart Glasses.’ TOLED stands for ‘Transparent Organic Light Emitting Diode.’
The Road Ahead
Augmented reality has certain privacy concerns. If incorporated with image-recognition software solutions, one day, AR will allow us to point our smartphones at random people and check information from their social media accounts instantly. Despite such a limitation, AR will definitely evolve in the near future. Doctors would be able to overlay a digital image of a patient’s brain scans onto a mannequin for realism.
Similarly, paleontologists can easily leave virtual notes for their team members on the discovered bones and artists can produce virtual sketches. Besides, research facilities and manufacturers would discover novel methods to make people more productive by using AR tools. They can conduct extensive training programs with it. Over the next few years, the technology is likely to reach the highest level of evolution in terms of applications, hardware, and software.
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