Augmented Reality (AR) is emerging as one of the key drivers of the tech economy. By some estimates, the total value of the AR market is expected to reach $100 billion by 2020.
That's because AR apps, headsets, and smart glasses hold the promise to add value to virtually every industry - from retail to industrial manufacturing. AR is already showing potential to solve some of the biggest problems and pain points, and we likely won't have to wait until 2020 for AR to make a big impact across the board.
From education to remote work, here are ten of the best uses cases for AR technology that are set to emerge in the near future -
1. Medical Training
From operating MRI equipment to performing complex surgeries, AR tech holds the potential to boost the depth and effectiveness of medical training in many areas. Students at the Cleveland Clinic at Case Western Reserve University, for example, will now learn anatomy utilizing an AR headset allowing them to delve into the human body in an interactive 3D format.
In today's physical retail environment, shoppers are using their smartphones more than ever to compare prices or look up additional information on products they're browsing. World famous motorcycle brand Harley Davidson is one great instance of a brand making the most of this trend, by developing an an AR app that shoppers can use in-store. Users can view a motorcycle they might be interesting in buying in the showroom, and customize it using the app to see which colors and features they might like.
3. Repair & Maintenance
One of the biggest industrial use cases of AR is for repair and maintenance of complex equipment. Whether it's a car motor or an MRI machine, repair and maintenance staff are beginning to use AR headsets and glasses while they perform their jobs to provide them with useful information on the spot, suggest potential fixes, and point out potential trouble areas. This use case will only continue to get stronger as machine-to-machine IoT technology grows and can feed information directly to AR headsets.
4. Design & Modeling
From interior design to architecture and construction, AR is helping professionals visualize their final products during the creative process. Use of headsets enables architects, engineers, and design professionals step directly into their buildings and spaces to see how their designs might look, and even make virtual on the spot changes. Urban planners can even model how entire city layouts might look using AR headset visualization. Any design or modeling jobs that involve spatial relationships are a perfect use case for AR tech.
5. Business Logistics
AR presents a variety of opportunities to increase efficiency and cost savings across many areas of business logistics. This includes transportation, warehousing, and route-optimization. Shipping company DHL has already implemented smart AR glasses in some of its warehouses, where lenses display to workers the shortest route within a warehouse to locate and pick a certain item that needs to be shipping. Providing workers with more efficient ways to go about their job is one of the best ROI use cases in today's business environment.
6. Tourism Industry
Technology has gone a long way towards advancing the tourism industry in recent years, from review sites like TripAdvisor to informative website like Lonely Planet. But AR presents a huge opportunity for travel brands and agents to give potential tourists an even more immersive experience before they travel. Imagine taking a virtual "Walkabout" Australia before on AR glasses before booking a ticket to Sydney, or a leisurely stroll around Paris to see what museums or cafes you might like to visit. AR promises to make selling trips, travel, and vacations a whole lot easier in the future.
7. Classroom Education
While technology like tablets have become widespread in many schools and classrooms, teachers and educators are now ramping up student's learning experience with AR. The Aurasma app, for example, is already being used in classrooms so that students can view their classes via a smartphone or tablet for a more rich learning environment. Students learning about astronomy might see a full map of the solar system, or those in a music class might be able to see musical notes in real time as they learn to play an instrument.
8. Field Service
Whether it's something as small as an air conditioner, or as large as a wind turbine, every day field service technicians get dispatched to repair a piece of mission critical equipment that needs to get up and running as soon as possible. Today, these technicians can arrive on-site with AR glasses or headsets and view whatever they're repairing to more quickly diagnose - and fix - the problem. And instead of having to thumb through a repair manual, technicians can go about their business hands-free to get in and out faster than ever.
9. Entertainment Properties
In the entertainment industry, it's all about building a strong relationship with your branded characters and the audience. Properties like Harry Potter are immensely successful because readers of the books and watchers of the movies feel like they know the characters, and are hungry for additional content. Entertainment brands are now seeing AR as a great marketing opportunity to build deeper bonds between their characters and audience. As a matter of fact, the makers of AR sensation Pokemon Go are soon planning to release a Harry Potter-themed AR game that fans can interact with day in and day out.
10. Public Safety
In the event of an emergency today, people will immediately reach for their smartphone to find out what's going on, where to go, and whether their loved ones are safe. Moreover, first responders arrive on the scene of a fire or earthquake trying to figure out who needs help, and the best way to get them to safety. AR is showing promise in solving both pieces of the public safety puzzle. First responders wearing AR glasses can be alerted to danger areas, and show in real-time individuals that need assistance while enabling to still be aware of their surroundings. For those in need, geolocation enabled AR can show them directions, and the best route to, safe zones and areas with firefighters or medics.