Augmented Reality’s – The Impact on Industries so Far

Augmented Reality has been around for a few years now and, whilst it is still cutting edge and innovative space, that’s just about long enough for most busnesses to start weighing up the actual impact of AR technology in their industry. As always with new technology, there are lots of ideas that fly around as to how technology can be used to change the world, but thoughts move quicker than the real world and things don’t always pan out how many industry experts might have predicted.

Here we look at how different industries that are using AR, and how the technology has, so far, affected those industries through their standout apps.

Cultural Learning - enhancing and expanding

Launched hand in hand with the second series of the TV Documentary series of the same name, the BBC’s Civilisation app aimed to bring 40 real world artifacts of historical and cultural significance to the world of Augmented Reality.

It’s certainly an intriguing idea, and if the content is, for the time being, fairly limited, it does at least cause us to wonder the true impact AR could have on cultural learning when taken to a larger scale. What if an entire museum’s worth of displays were uploaded and available for anyone to view in any given open space? Most museums currently only have a small percentage of their collection on display at any given time, so it is feasible that AR could become a way to unlock those great warehouses and for public display. It would take a lot of content creation, and some serious thought as to how to order such vast quantities of exhibits, but for the first time museum’s could create experiences around their vast trove or artifacts without the limitation or real world space that they are afforded.

Summary: AR’s role would seem to be one of enhance and expand for curators wanting to help wider audiences experience a wider range of collections.

Gaming - an industry born for AR?

AR, and its cousin VR, is fun and cutting edge, so the gaming industry would seem to be a natural fit. PlayStation have certainly backed the technology, releasing their VR units in 2016 they made selling 745,000 in that year alone, and sales have continued to grow, hitting the 5 million mark in January 2020.

There are, however, limitations. Gamers often demand high technical fidelity and quick, fast moving experiences. AR and VR are catching up to this without many cases of industry changing success. One exception however has beenPokemon Go. Given the Pokemon franchise’s high levels of success as both Video Games and a wider cultural movement for over 20 years, it was always going to make a splash when it announced an AR mobile app back in 2016. Having Pokemon transposed onto the real world for users to find and catch was an inspired twist on the classic games, and one that integrated new technology onto a classic, tried and tested gameplay method that players were familiar with. True, the AR aspects can be turned off (are veteran players often prefer to do this) however there’s no denying that the initial appeal and quirkiness of Augmented Reality technology proved a huge springboard for the app to launch off of, and it is still riding that success to this date with a reported income of just over one-billion pounds in 2019.

Summary: AR hasn’t really been the revolution many would have expected a few years ago, but can be hugely successful as an evolution for games if used in the right way.

Fashion and Retail - setting standards

A host of fashion brands from Lacost to Zara have brought AR Mobile applications to the world of fashion and retail, and it’s easy to see why in a space where real world, high street presence has been shifting to online platforms relentlessly year on year.

 Lacoste let you see yourself wearing their latest clothes from wherever you are, helping to bring one advantage a high street store has, its changing rooms, to their digital store. Ikea let you turn your living room into a show room with their furniture-placing app, which enjoyed huge popularity when it launched in 2017. Sadly there are no meatballs on offer here, but it’s easy to see how the Place app inspires people looking to upgrade their home. The technology is implemented with an reported 98% scaling accuracy, which is very impressive for an app that was really a forerunner for the technology it was built upon, it’s perhaps unsurprising therefore that Apple actually used IKEA’s app to showcase their ARKit technology back in 2017.

Summary: AR can add extra drive, if it was needed, to an industry that moves closer and closer to being all digital. High street presences don’t really seem to benefit as of yet.

Other Adopters of AR - moving in with a bang

Some other industry’s taking AR seriously are education, training and communication and these industry’s are investing heavily into this technology.

Almost half of XR technology is developed for the education industry, and 63% of industry stakeholders plan to use VR technology for training purposes, which is higher than in any other industry. It makes sense considering that 65% of people are visual learners, and even those who aren’t are more likely to remember a piece of training if it is presented in an interesting and engaging way. We’ve seen examples used from the classroom to the training conference, and the outcome is almost guaranteed to be better than a lecture.

Further to this communication is always a good place to look at new technology trends. With Augmented Reality, Snapchat is an app that really pushes the boat out in terms of AR’s usage. The messaging app lets you add funny, interesting and some downright crazy effects to images or videos of yourself and share it with your friends. It may seem a novel and frivolous use of AR, but its uptake has been huge. Snapchat estimates that its average user users the app’s AR features nearly 30 times a day. Snapchat released the Lens Studio programme to help creators make their own AR filters, and these can sell for up to $10,000 each if popular, creating their own AR driven industry around their huge user base.