2016 was the year of Virtual Reality. Now it seems like 2017 might be the year of Augmented Reality. Facebook has announced their belief in the technology. Microsoft has been working on their HoloLens technology for a while already. Even Snapchat is trying to incorporate Augmented Reality into their offerings.
There are many players out there starting to emerge with AR technology, but most of the usage of AR today is pretty lame. Or at least not very useful for anything else than a cheap laugh. Dog ears and rainbows are not what is innovative and exciting about AR.
In this post, I am going to go through some of the use cases where AR will truly bring value. Some use cases are nice, some are fun, but many have the potential to be worth a lot of money.
I also wrote a post a little while ago about Augmented Reality glasses in 2017
Also related: Why I like Augmented Reality better than Virtual Reality
Commerce (aka. getting people to buy your stuff)
Probably one of the biggest use cases right now, and not without reason. Letting the consumer see what they are buying in context is incredibly powerful.
You can imagine using AR for
- Fitting rooms
- Decorating and trying out furniture in you home
- Real estate
- When showing someone an empty house, create an incredible narrative.
- In fact, it might be BETTER to show someone an empty house and using AR to create a beautiful scenario
- Online Shopping
- Wonder what that thing you want to buy look like? Just put a hologram of it on your desk.
Allowing people to more easily imagine how great your product is, by showing them, is something many people is going to exploit heavily I believe.
As with Virtual Reality, gamers are going to be pushing forward Augmented Reality too. Gamers are great at using and wanting more of new tech, which is exactly what is going to open for more and more use cases in other industries as well.
Casual games that are not confined to a screen is what AR bring to the table here. Integrating a game world into your real world allowing for better immersion and a ton of interesting scenarios.
While this video is purely a concept video by Magic Leap, it still demonstrates some of the possibilities:
Now we are getting into the topic of Industry (with a capital I). Training people is hard. Training people to do complex tasks is even more difficult.
Since paper sucks for training material, this has traditionally been solved with video training or hands-on, real world training. However, videos are not very interactive, and you won’t learn as much. Hands-on training can be extremely expensive depending on equipment and personnel requirements. Think of repair training for a large plane engine. You need to have an engine that is not in use, you have to get people to where an engine is, and get a hold of an expert. Also, you better not destroy that engine.
These problems have been partially solved already by VR. VR is excellent for training, but it has the problem of removing you from the real world and being a bit more expensive to develop because you need to simulate the entire environment in which the training is happening.
What I like about AR for training is the potential for being a lot more flexible than VR. If you have a piece of equipment available, it’s stupid to simulate it in a VR world. You could instead combine training instructions on top of that real equipment. Or if you don’t have that piece of equipment you can simulate the whole thing, but perhaps using real world tools during training.
Work Instructions (Manufacturing, Maintenance, Installation)
This is in many ways a lot of the same as the training use case, but it’s a bit more specific.
Today, when maintenance, manufacturing or installation engineers are doing their work, they have to look up their instructions in manuals that are paper based at worst, digital on a mobile device at best. None of which are optimal.
If you could immerse the work instructions into the real world and the real objects they are working on, the potential for efficiency and quality is mind boggling! Instead of having to get to your tablet every time you have to reference something, you can get that information without having to stop. For manufacturing, this could have tremendous potential for getting rid of errors (which can be INSANELY expensive). For maintenance, the same thing is true, but also the speed and cost of maintenance could be improved a lot. Again, the same is true for installation.
Show, don’t just tell. Bringing AR into the classroom could radically transform education. Stuffy textbooks need to be a thing of the past. You need to engage students, and AR is the way to do it.
When teaching, being able to visually demonstrate any concept would allow almost any student to grasp concepts much easier, while not getting bored!
Storytelling is already an emerging topic for VR, but there is no reason it can’t be just as effective (or more) with AR.
Storytelling doesn’t need to be confined to text OR audio OR video. Why not combine elements to truly bring a story to life?
People are experiment with this today, take a look at the video below:
Add useful info on the real world
The world we see around us is static regarding directly available information, but there is so much information that could be overlaid and surfaced to give value.
- When looking at a mount peak, information about it could be shown automatically.
- When looking at food packaging, see the content descriptions and reviews (4.5 stars)
- Get information about people you meet (age, profession, etc.)
- Instructions for using appliances
- Real-time statistics and information about sports
- Tagging places for your friends to find
Getting more information about anything you see - basically.
Product Design & Prototyping
Being able to design and show ideas to people in an immersive way can truly transform the way product designers, entrepreneurs, and innovators (and many more people) work.
A simple prototype or sketch can never bring big ideas to life. You have to count on people imagining the full potential of your product or idea. Well, that doesn’t have to be the case. You can bring ideas to life with both AR and VR. I like AR better because it allows you to easily collaborate and interact without having to go to “another world.”
Navigation without having to glance at your phone or GPS device? Sure. Indoor turn-by-turn navigation? Yeah, that sounds useful.
I think navigation could be an immersive experience that is truly useful. Information and turn-by-turn navigation overlaid on the world can be done with AR.
Collaboration & Communication
This is one of my favorite use cases because I hate remote meetings. Skype sessions with just audio and perhaps video is not going to beat face-to-face interaction. Ever. But bringing each other to your respective AR experiences might just be the next-best thing. I envision meetings happening a lot more like they do in Kingsmen:
Health training and work are hard and error-prone. It is also critical. Utilizing technology to make it as best as possible is something we should strive for. AR and VR both can bring value to this field:
I imagine education, training and actual work for surgery being truly transformed by AR because getting all that extra information could mean the difference between life and death.
AR for health could be used for mental health rehabilitation, by introducing concepts and treatments in an immersive and safe way to patients.
I think the Health sector has some big changes coming up, to be honest. I believe that they will be ready for the challenge!
These use cases are just some of the ones I came up with while writing this post. There are SO many more possibilities with this amazing technology.
I firmly believe we have only scratched the surface of what is possible to do!