What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality (AR) integrates visual, audio, or other sensory information with real objects to create an enhanced version of the physical world. 

It is a growing trend that has applications far beyond its gaming reputation. Businesses can use it to provide insights, training, and education to staff and customers.

Augmented reality’s primary functions are to:

  • highlight specific features of the physical world, 
  • increase understanding of those features, and 
  • derive intelligent and accessible insight that can be applied to real-world applications. 

A simple example could be a train driver learning how to operate the trains’ braking system in various weather conditions.

How is Augmented Reality used?

There is now plenty of evidence that users in all working environments can achieve tangible benefits from AR functionality. 

AR technology can enhance consumers’ shopping experience by incorporating it into catalogue apps. Stores can use it to let consumers visualise how different products look in different environments. Employees can even learn how to deal with difficult customers. 

Augmented reality can be a powerful learning tool for medical professionals throughout their training. For example, users could see highly detailed, 3D images of specific bodily systems when hovering their mobile device over a target image. Or taken through procedures that require specific tools.

Machinery, systems and equipment in this industry can be incredibly complex and difficult to understand. AR can help with effective training at-scale, improving safety and reducing risks and costs. It can act as a historical repository and real-time SOP. 

These examples just touch the surface of how AR is being utilised across all industries.

Up until recently, AR has been inhibited because users could only access it via a smartphone or tablet. The improvement in smart eyewear – wearable, comfortable, non-bulky glasses now gives us a more complete link between real and virtual realms. We are no longer confined to handheld devices that only show a tiny portion of our landscape. In fact, I’m wearing a pair right now!

Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality (AR vs. VR)

Augmented reality uses the existing real-world environment and puts virtual information on top to enhance the experience. Users view this enhanced environment through a smartphone, tablet or smart eyewear.

In contrast, virtual reality immerses users in an entirely different environment – a virtual one created and rendered by computers. Users are immersed through a virtual reality viewer. Being able to look up, down and all around creates the sensation of physically being in the virtual environment. 

Key takeaways

  • AR adds to the existing real-world environment.
  • VR designs and creates its own cyber environment.
  • All industries can leverage AR to deliver employee insights, training and education, increase safety, improve customer experience, and save costs.

Want to utilise augmented reality in your business? Contact us today.