By: Ramu M R, General Manager & Head of Web Technologies & Mobility (DTES), Happiest Minds Technologies
Augmented Reality (AR) is the next big thing in the world of customer experience and engagement. It is an art of placing or superimposition of “digital objects” or other information on real-time environments, either through hardware technology, the screen of a smartphone or the lenses of a headset. It was none other than the viral Pokémon Go which took AR to the common man through smartphone and tablets and proved to the world that there is indeed a massive business potential and practical application of AR than being just another science fiction technology.
With the explosion of worldwide-web, information and social sight, individuals today are quite comfortable with experiencing today’s world with multiple layers of information. The information we seek will be easier to aggregate and AR will be one of the powerful medium to render that information to us. With AR targeting the smartphone and tablet market, we are looking at a potential user base that runs in multi billions.
There is going to be an explosion of AR being used to boost sales and market share as well as more engaging customer experiences. AR application can give the sales associate and the customer to opportunity to know and feel the product before they sell or buy. For example, a AR application can bring a car advertisement in print media to a 3D interactive model which can enable the customer to see the 360° view of the car, know the specific details, do customizations and may even request for a test drive. By engaging visual sense in the shopping experience, AR can potentially foster greater customer connect and build trust which in turn can result in a purchase.
Virtual shopping stores will be the next surge which will bring together richness of the traditional in store experience with e-commerce. This can enable retailers to achieve better customer experience and improved business efficiency with no increased inventory cost, less commercial space, fewer staff and no more long billing queues.
As a matter of fact, AR application is not just limited to the actual point of sale but the entire selling process, which could be from training employees to after-sale service. Sales recruits can benefit from AR by quickly learning about products, virtual store walk-throughs can help managers determine staffing needs at any given point and even manage inventory levels by scanning a particular section of the store, with mobiles and tablets making after sale support also, very much a possibility.
But, AR is not just growing its foot print in sales and marketing but in other industries as well.
- Airlines may adopt AR for providing vital statics of the aircraft to pilot such as altitude, airspeed and the horizon line in addition to other critical data. Navigation applications powered by GPS & augmented reality will enable users to see the selected route over the live view of what is in front of the vehicle.
- Augmented reality in Medical field can reduce the risk during an operation by giving the surgeon improved sensory perception combined with MRI or X-ray systems. AR can be best used to practice surgery in a controlled environment for young surgeons.
- In case of buildings, an AR application can provide an overlay of the wiring and plumbing against a wall which will enable the maintenance guy to do effectively do his job with more precision and less presumptions
The AR ecosystem is maturing and is rapidly emerging, helping to drive the potential of practical applications for augmented reality. AR systems will evolve with improved knowledge about objects in the real world. More companies are eyeing AR as the next differentiator. Mobile manufactures are rapidly realizing the potential of AR and mobile phones are getting equipped to meet both ends of the AR world by introducing hardware like phone camera that views 3D space as well as 2D images. AR along with analytics providing insights from the vast amount of data that world is sitting, is going to change the way we play, shop, learn and work and there will be no looking back thereafter.