It still feels a bit unreal to recognise that AR has become one of the key drivers of the technology economy. Estimates indicate that the total value of the AR market exceeded $100 billion in 2020 (2021, Alsop). Add to that the approximately 30 billion IoT installed devices around the globe, and it is safe to conclude that our reality will forever be enhanced.
AR enhances our experiences by bringing virtual objects into play that can change our perceptions. Think of it as the ability to do virtually anything. You can shrink the Titanic to fit into your lounge or fix your own TV. All you need is your smartphone.
While the focus has, up to now, been on Virtual Reality (VR), AR has played catch up and predictions are that it will soon command a larger share of revenue. Here’s how some industries have made the technology work for them.
AR is being applied to a multitude of spatial dimension design processes. Engineers, architects and a number of other creative disciplines use the technology to visualize their designs and make instant improvements. Imagine the savings in the construction of structures such as hotels, trains, planes, helicopters and office blocks.
AR app companies are offering end-to-end, plug-in functionality to create lifelike mock-ups to scale. Gone are the days of manufacturing prototypes. The apps enable real-time comparison of previous models with new design options and allow the opportunity to evaluate new features and functionality before production starts.
2.Advances in the automotive industry
Vehicle manufacturers have started issuing AR maintenance and repair manuals. It is now possible to scan car parts and overlay images and information. The step-by-step instructions enable even untrained persons to identify problem areas and effect the necessary repairs. Cost savings and customer empowerment have been the main gains, especially in regions in which it is difficult, or very expensive, to access trained mechanics.
Doctors can now learn by using 3D interactive hologram-based programmes. Google’s HoloLens allows students to explore human bodies at no risk to an unsuspecting patient. Schools which have adopted these capabilities have reduced their reliance on cadavers and related equipment.
4.Shop until you drop
Customers have become eager to adopt new technologies. The fast-moving retail industry has been quick to spot the benefits of creating a more ‘persuasive’ environment for shoppers. In brick-and-mortar settings, as well as on-line, AR has given stores the ability to create virtual 3D surroundings. A potential buyer can position the couch they have been eyeing in their home, try on a pair of jeans prior to purchase, or even custom design their new Harley Softail – seat and all.
Manufacturing has also undergone a facelift. Factories no longer need to have an engineer in the plant every day. By superimposing models and graphs, experts working from remote locations can direct on site workers and help them to repair complex pieces of equipment. And smart glasses leave hands free to handle the tools required in the process. This trend will further gain momentum as machine-to-machine IoT technology develops to deliver information directly into headsets.
As the futurist and science fiction writer, Arthur C. Clarke, famously said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. No wonder that he was the one who wrote the screenplay for the 1968 blockbuster 2001: A Space Odyssey.
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