COVID-19 was a catalyst for change like few others, compelling businesses to rethink their strategies and potential use cases for technological innovations. Organizations discovered how to overcome difficulties in the changing world order by adopting tools that mimic real-life experiences, such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). Only by adopting new technologies and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible will businesses be able to secure competitive advantages.
With this in mind, here are three use cases that demonstrate the potential of AR and VR in times to come.
Ever used a Snapchat filter, or ran wild around the city as you chased a collectible in Pokemon Go? Then you’ve already experienced AR. After all, enhancing reality by adding vivid movement isn’t something left only to the imagination, or Hogwarts.
AR and VR offers exciting new ways to visualize 3D information in real-time, such as overlaying 3D information onto an existing landscape. Mobile phones are increasingly gaining AR functionality, and car makers are using simple applications such as Heads-Up Displays (HUDs) to share this information in real time to users.
At an industrial level, we are seeing public transport systems (such as trains) and logistics companies using AR to enhance their operation. Megan Huff, Vice President and Managing Principal of the mobility division of Ross & Baruzzini, believes that the widespread adoption of AR technology in the sector is imminent. “About 80% of the dispatchers who used our pilot felt they could use the platform to complete their job duties, after a 10 minute training. The gesture interface was easier for dispatchers to learn and use than anticipated. AR will change how the control room functions and the everyday work experience for all aspects of the transportation industry.”
Retail and shopping
Consumers were compelled to do most of their shopping from the comfort of their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic (a shift that many have welcomed), but it didn’t eliminate their desire for a “connected retail experience.” Retailers looked for ways to replicate the in-store purchasing experience across digital platforms to accommodate this demand. Many people have resorted to AR and VR solutions, and the results have been mostly positive. In fact, the majority of Gen X’ers believe that in the coming years, they will use AR when shopping.
One brand eager to take advantage of this technology trend is BMW. The automaker recently launched the BMW Virtual Viewer to let car buyers in Europe learn about and interact with its vehicles using a web-based AR technology platform. Customers can view select models inside and out and see what cars would look like in real size around their homes. Others too are creating configurators that allow customers to enjoy an immersive experience.
For decades, science fiction writers have imagined what a shared, three-dimensional digital realm might look like. The metaverse, as it is known, is finally becoming a reality. A slew of companies, including Microsoft, Roblox, Epic Games, and Facebook, are vying to build the virtual world that will eventually supplant the internet. Microsoft envisions creating a collaborative work environment that comes close to approximating the office, with Facebook working on something similar called ‘Workrooms’. This will allow conversations to flow more naturally, and help users pick up social cues that are missing on video. In the future, working together will be one of the main ways people use the metaverse.
Though many of the emerging business applications for VR and AR are still in experimental phases, the potential of these technologies seems to grow every day. Given the positive returns from the above use cases, this potential will translate to real-world value sooner rather than later.