Apple’s recent launch of augmented reality software as part of iOS 11 may seem just another gadget in this innovative software developer’s arsenal of all things shiny and fresh.
But this tiny feature of the latest iPhone and compatible iPads heralds a whole new era of business opportunity, and could see the widespread adoption of AR for a variety of use.
Here’s an insight into what AR may mean to business, and how it’s already rolling out…
The launch of ARKit
In September, Apple announced the latest incarnation of its iOS software, including the capability of turning millions of iPhones and even iPads into augmented reality capable devices.
As Macrumors explains it involves a new framework called ARKit that allows software developers to create augmented reality apps and experiences using later model iPhone and iPad cameras, processors and motion sensors. Compatible devices include the latest iPhones and iPads with an A9 processor or above.
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“As of now, the first wave of these apps are available for you to download and test on the iOS 11 App Store. The first apps range from game updates to practical everyday tools and even apps that encourage a healthier lifestyle, with more refined experiences likely coming in the future once developers get a grasp on what users enjoy with the first wave of apps,” they continue.
So, as developers get to work incorporating AR into a whole range of applications, what could it mean for business? Well here’s just a little speculation…
From how an outfit or makeup may look to whether a couch will fit within your home, augmented reality has the potential to allow consumers to explore and engage with items in a new way.
Forbes notes already a number of retailers including big names like Wayfair and IKEA have come on board allowing consumers to insert sofas into their home settings, while “retailers also have rolled out consumer-facing applications that let them virtually try on clothing, makeup, and accessories”.
“Sephora has a virtual makeup app. Jura lets you try on virtual watches on your wrist. The list goes on and on, and doesn’t look like it will stop any time soon – aside from the conversion rate benefits of making consumers feel comfortable about a purchase, there is a lot to say these days about any technology that helps reduce return rates from consumers making purchase mistakes.”
Education and training
Whether it’s walking through a possible scenario and seeing it play out on screen, or being taken through training step-by-step, augmented reality has the capability of making workplace training and education a much more immersive process that is “far more effective than a typical lecture or simply reading instructions,” notes Business News Daily.
“With either on screen instructions or layered graphics, users can be shown complex processes step-by-step, or given prompts and instruction on a certain task. Using these methods, AR offers the capability to increase the depth of the training process, while expediting it at the same time.”
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So you’re designing a product, a home, or renovating the interior of a building and wish to see how it may look. Augmented reality allows this too, enabling builders, town planners, product designers and interior decorators the ability to showcase their proposal in infinite detail set within the actual environment it will affect.
Collaboration and field work
Whether you’re a field worker looking to navigate an unfamiliar environment, service unfamiliar machinery or imagine what an area may look like plus or minus items, augmented reality has the potential to change the way personnel in the field envisage, prepare for and undertake their work.
From tree trimmers to insurance assessors, machinery mechanics and more, augmented reality will enable workers to better understand their environment and the task at hand using something as simple as an iPad.
And Field Service News notes it’s already happening.
“For many field services organizations, AR is now routinely being used to assist field technicians in their ability to perform repairs on equipment they may not have been exposed to previously; have not had any formal, or individual, training or instruction on how to repair; and/or do not readily have access to product specs, schematics, repair manuals or service histories.”
Tours and maps
Meanwhile, navigation is set to see some major benefits of AR, as Business News Weekly explains.
“Whether it's real estate or an art museum, AR can be used to create informative and interactive tours. Consider a realtor showing a home; everything from the home's history to recent renovations can be shown in a graphic overlay as the prospective buyer walks through.
“Visitors to a museum can see deeper information about artifacts or artwork. Deliveries can utilize graphical overlays for maps to help guide them quickly and efficiently without taking their eyes off the road. Directionality is a huge aspect of augmented reality.”
Of course Apple does not boast a monopoly on the world of AR. But what ARKit and AR compatible Apple devices prompts is exploration of new apps, opportunities and customer engagement. It brings AR one step closer to the mainstream, and gives business and consumers alike the opportunity to explore its benefits.