Advantages of Augmented Reality (AR) for Businesses

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Do you remember that new shirt you bought online and had to return the item multiple times just because it did not fit you?

If only you could try the shirt before purchasing it online.

Or that coffee table ended up taking a lot more space in your living area than you expected?

If only you could place that coffee table in your living room before going for it.

‘If only’

These are some of the scenarios that we face frequently in our day-to-day lives while shopping online and the solutions to the problems only seem surreal. Now, imagine being able to do all of the above and more from the comfort of your home. The answer to your problems is Augmented Reality(also known as AR).

In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of AR. The benefits that brands can have by incorporating AR into their business strategy, and see how AR and VR differ in some sense. Although both serve the purpose of blending the line between the physical and digital world.

What is Augmented Reality (AR)?

Augmented Reality (or AR) superimposes images and digital data on the physical world so that we can experience technology in an altogether separate dimension.

The gap between the digital and real world inhibits the use of technology to its maximum potential. AR is capable of bridging that gap.

In 2021, 93.3 million people will be using AR at least once a month. Also, as many as 40 percent of the customers are willing to pay more if they can experience it through AR. Moreover, the global AR market is projected to grow from $6.12 billion in 2021 to reach $97.76 billion by 2028.

The billions of smart and connected devices only make it easier to experience AR to come closer to regular usage. The use of AR as technology is shifting merely from living in the mobile phone’s browsers and apps to hands-free smart wearables. Although many of us might know the famous first application of AR to a mobile game called Pokemon Go, the advantages of Augmented Reality applications has already infiltrated the more practical world.

AR is helping customers make better purchase decisions, manufacturers make fewer errors while assembling machines and the other uses will be shortly explained. AR eliminates any mental strain to bridge the gap between the real and physical worlds. Thus, eliminating any constraints and enabling us to act quickly and efficiently.

For instance, carmakers are exploring AR displays in cars to help the driver make swift decisions without getting distracted.

Currently, to take a turn on a busy road, the driver has to switch his vision between the device screen and the road. With AR, the correct directions get overlayed on the actual road so, the driver no longer needs to map the 2D map onto the 3D road.

Another great example would be how Japan is using Augmented Reality to teach children the ‘dangers of flash floods‘.

What are the advantages of AR?

There are many advantages of Augmented Reality given the number of smart and connected products coming into the world every day. The capabilities which AR enable us to visualize, interact, and even control some of the products which we use in our daily lives.

  • Enabling accurate visualizations
    The effects created using AR are aesthetically pleasing to the eyes and intricately marked with details. The details which earlier were difficult to highlight and see, AR makes it very easy to visualize it in realtime in 3D.
    Asos previously integrated visual search into their visionary mobile app and onboarded AR to it in 2019.

The AR feature, called Virtual Catwalk, helped visualize 100 Asos design products. Later, when the pandemic hit, they scaled up the service to help models and designers working from home visualize clothes try-on digitally. By the end of Feb 2021, their revenues jumped up by 24%.

View Rayban WebAR Experience –
  • Enabling useful & digitally smart interactions
    Earlier devices used various mediums like buttons, knobs, in-built touchscreens for helping us interact with them. Although, these interactions eased some part of the job but there always remained some level of necessary interaction missing. That is where AR comes into the picture to take this interaction to a whole new level.
    We can enable virtual control panels to control the reality created by AR devices. This panel can be controlled using AR-enabled devices or hand gestures and voice commands. The users would be able to scan a product to control it or the workers in a factory can use it to assemble products in a better way.
  • Guiding in a smart way
    It is no doubt that most of the businesses are adopting digital transformation. Also, various industries like tourism, education etc are leaning on technology to make the experience of the audience more fun and memorable. AR helps in superimposing images onto the real world so that these experiences stand apart.
    The education industry can use it to explain the concepts to the students in a better way and the tourism industry can float virtual tours of the tourist places where AR can be coupled with voice based instructions.
    Also, the instruction manual of products can include AR-based instructions which help the customers understand the functioning of the products better.
  • Helps you increase profits
    A technology like AR can help you expand your profits and cut down your loss significantly.
    The main advantage of AR is that it increases the customer engagement significantly and reduce returns by 35 percent. In addition to increasing the dwell times of the customers on your websites, AR actually boosts sales as it gives loads of more information than a mere 2D representation of the same product. The customers feel more connected with your brand and the rest is just word of mouth. 

Are there any Disadvantages?

Although the number of advantages of Augmented Reality certainly outnumber the disadvantages, we must take a look at some disadvantages too, that come with every technology

  • Cost
    It’s a relatively new technology and the cost associated with the development of certain AR experiences might be exorbitant sometimes. Although with our tool Vossle we are trying to solve this problem and providing customers with tools to make instantly AR experiences. If you want one to be developed from scratch, then you might have to shell out a a lot more than a few bucks.
  • Privacy
    As AR overlays digital data onto your physical reality, there might be some concerns overs privacy as it seeks a lot of permissions to make the AR Experiences accessible. As the data that gets overlaid needs to be collected for generation and analysis of creating AR experiences.

How can Brands benefit from AR?

AR can prove to be beneficial if included as a part of the brand-building strategy. According to a Drum report, AR can capture people’s attention for over 85 seconds, increase interaction by 20 percent and improve click-through rates to purchase by 33 percent. 

Now is the best time to include AR in your business strategy because with passing time as AR becomes more ubiquitous, you will have to spend a greater deal of thought to build better experiences. Here are a few striking examples of some brands:

  • Jack Daniel’s AR packaging helped narrate the brand’s stories to their customers. After downloading their AR app, the customers simply have to point their phones towards the packaging and they can see the brand story being narrated in their own reality. The story told the story behind the brand’s journey and how their whiskey’s are made.
  • Youtube is eyeing on leveraging the full potential of AR for its video-sharing platform with it’s new ‘interactive ads’ feature. It’s AR Beauty Try Ons assist the users to virtually try on the products while they are watching the video tutorials on the same. MAC was the first company to launch a pilot version of the AR feature for their products and saw around 30 percent of the customers activating the feature.

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Differences between AR and VR

AR and VR are related technologies but users tend to confuse them and use them interchangeably but both these technologies come with a certain degree of differences. The basic difference is the same as when you are looking at an aquarium versus visiting the aquarium. 

Some of those differences are highlighted below:

Augmented RealityVirtual Reality
Manipulating RealityAR simply overlays digital images onto physical reality. Remember that Ikea advertisement which helped try a sofa in the living room with the help of your mobile phone.VR simply replaces your immediate physical reality with a computer-generated digital reality. You can be transported to a digital Mount Everest with the headset on.
Ease of AccessAny person owning a mobile phone can get access to an AR experience so, it is more easily accessible. But if you want to experience its limitless possibilities you can also use an AR headset like Hololens.VR is more difficult to get a hold of as it needs a headset, computers, sensors, or gloves. Headsets like Oculus Quest, Playstation VR, HTC Vive Cosmos, etc can help you cut out the reality and experience VR.

While VR provides a more immersive experience, AR can be the go-to technology when it comes to launching a cool marketing campaign as it does not need any additional hardware to experience the same. The brands can leverage this for reaching a wider audience.