It is no surprise that the outbreak of COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of AR technology. The transformative challenges posed by the pandemic urged businesses to find new approaches to customer engagement, and advances in human-computer interaction and AR have high potential in that regard. This encouraged more and more companies to create immersive and seamless digital experiences, taking cues from tech giants like Apple and Google, who present their innovative AR efforts at the respective Apple WWDC and Google I/O annual conferences.
Because enterprises have to stay on top of current trends to future-proof their businesses, we can expect the number of AR use cases to rise exponentially in the coming years. However, to leverage this technology and to identify best practices to achieve company goals, it is important to understand the principles of Natural Design and monitor the AR market to gain valuable insights.
In this article we show the current state of Augmented Reality (AR) technologies and their use cases across various sectors.
Augmented Reality has come a long way since its emergence in the early 1990’s. The first viable AR systems, Virtual Fixtures, were designed for the military. The concept was introduced as an overlay of augmented sensory information on a user's perception of a real environment in order to improve human performance in both direct and remotely manipulated tasks. Today, AR technologies have made their way into every possible area of our life – from interior design and healthcare to education and fashion.
The capabilities of AR depend greatly on the input method. At first, computer interaction was managed through a mouse and keyboard, but over time we switched to touch screens and swipe gestures. Now, the latest tech developments allow us to use advanced human-computer interactions such as voice commands and body movements.
Additionally, a range of companies, including Epson, Google, and Microsoft, are planning to launch smart devices (e.g. glasses and helmets) that can provide out-of-this-world experiences to augment vision and create virtual content. So far, none of the tech giants has succeeded in starting mass production of these gadgets due to their short battery life, processing capabilities, and high price. Until these obstacles are removed, the best alternative we can lay our hands on is still our mobile phones.
The current AR market is represented by mobile iOS/Android applications. Many of the features we enjoy today are thanks to the commitment of tech giants such as Apple and Google to AR technology. Prior to the rise of the mobile market, the adoption of AR was mostly driven by the development of wearable devices, like the Microsoft Hololens. These bulky helmets and glasses were mostly implemented at industrial plants to help factory-floor technicians with complex work instructions.
Today, the mobile consumer market is saturated with AR-enabled smartphones. Mobile brands invest heavily in state-of-the-art cameras on their devices, so it’s only natural to utilize their power to introduce new features. Advancements in mobile camera technology, like the use of more than two cameras together, lidar scanners, spatial maps, anchors, and semantic segmentation, allow users to create more realistic AR content. The strides made in mobile technology, therefore, not only contribute to seamless customer experience but also boost the scope of AR applications in our everyday lives.
One of the most prominent examples of AR adoption is in the e-commerce sector. A primary goal for retailers is to compel customers to buy their products, and one technique they use is offering a product trial period. This practice, however, poses a dilemma: how to provide superb customer experience without inflating the costs of the delivery and returns? That’s where AR comes into the spotlight. AR enables companies to deploy a virtual try-on solution that helps shoppers experiment with clothes, accessories, makeup, etc. without touching the actual physical product.
E-commerce is not the only example of successful AR applications. If we look at the Google Play Market and AppStore, we can see there are numerous AR-based applications, spanning such categories as:
These are the top ten AR use cases as of 2022. As we can see, a significant market share belongs to virtual entertainment. It is largely thanks to the success of Niantic’s Pokemon Go AR game, which created a new cultural phenomenon back in 2016. It also has to do with the overall state of the mobile app market, where gaming is deemed to be the most prominent and lucrative sector.
Even though the virtual entertainment industry is dominating the AR technology market now, there is still plenty of room for other sectors to grow. Those use cases can be delivered as single-purpose features presented in the form of mobile applications (or Google Maps AR for locations and tracking) as well as a combination of multiple functions offering the best AR experience (face, world and body filters in Snapchat).
Here are just a few more examples of AR use cases:
AR provides plenty of scope for experimentation with different technological startups introducing the most advanced and extraordinary solutions every day. Furthermore, the trends of wearable devices, AR filters, photogrammetry, and AR entertainment are also growing. According to analysts, the convergence of these technologies in the Metaverse is disrupting the digital world as we know it, opening even more opportunities for augmented reality to grow and prosper, and spurring the emergence of new technologies and features.
At Grid Dynamics we strive to stay on top of AR technology trends, particularly in the sphere of e-commerce applications. Many of our clients are willing to experiment and expand their e-commerce capabilities using AR to provide extraordinary customer experiences. Therefore, our R&D workshops focus on identifying mobile AR best practices, tools and instruments, as well as deficiencies in current solutions, to help our clients achieve their goals.
Because we closely follow the AR technology trends produced by Apple and Google, and study the current state of the market, we are empowered with dozens of new ideas and features that were never possible before.
If you’re interested to learn more about integrating AR technology into your e-commerce system, get in touch with us to start a conversation!