The concept of augmented reality (AR) is no longer new. However, it has certainly made some serious advancements in recent years with the release of applications such as Pokemon Go and products like HoloLens. What’s more, augmented reality trends show that the technology is fast disrupting various industries, from healthcare and gaming to insurance and marketing, as well as education.
That said, it comes as no surprise that technology leaders anticipate AR to surpass VR within the next 3 to 5 years (Perkins Coie, 2019). Also, many businesses are starting to leverage it for their operations using application development software.
If you haven’t yet, now is the best time to look into this technology. But before you do, let us first drill down into the different augmented reality issues, trends, and challenges and how AR may be shaping your industry. This way, you can better prepare yourself as you invest in AR for your company.
We often see cool technologies like holographic communication, robot vision, and simulated 3D visuals in sci-fi movies. However, with the recent innovations in the augmented reality industry, these are now surely turning into reality.
In fact, AR users have increased in numbers over the past few years. Back in 2017, only 37.6% of Americans utilized the technology. In 2022, the number of AR users in the United States is expected to reach 95.1 million (eMarketer, 2020).
It’s become so widespread that 46% of Americans have probably used an AR app without knowing it (GearBrain). For example, if you have used those quirky filters on Facebook and Snapchat for your selfies, then you have already experienced AR firsthand. That’s how accessible this technology is now.
However, how can you, as an entrepreneur, use AR to your advantage? In this article, we will discuss some of the biggest augmented reality market trends to help you get an idea of how businesses are using the technology. Of course, if you’d like more data regarding this topic, you can also take a look at our list of technology statistics. This should give you a more in-depth overview of how businesses are embracing innovation to move forward into the 21st century.
Mobile AR apps have grown so much that Google is continuously testing phones that are capable with ARCore. At the end of December 2020, the total number of models that support ARCore numbered 44. The last five additions, among which was Samsung Galaxy M20, were mostly budget phones (Android Police, 2020).
iPhones also support augmented reality. With the release of iOS 11, all the latest iPhones could run apps with AR (Lifewire, 2020).
By 2022, it is predicted that there will be 4,670.8 million consumer mobile AR-embedded apps in the market (Tractica). At the time, it is expected that the number of mobile AR users will reach 2.2 billion (Statista, 2020).
Snapchat was one of the first applications to use AR through its filters. You can learn more about the different ways they use this technology in this compilation of Snapchat trends. Shortly after Snapchat was launched, PokemonGo also came out. This game lets players catch and train their own Pokemon by finding them in various locations all over their city. Players can use AR on mobile devices to navigate inside large buildings.
In addition to these applications, there are also retail companies like IKEA that use AR to help customers visualize furniture in their home before purchasing, making it easier for them to decide on the item. Mercedes also uses an AI chatbot combined with AR. Through this, customers can simply scan parts of the car using their phone’s camera, and the app will automatically provide information about the particular car part.
What’s more, AR kits are readily available online for download. Meaning, companies, and individuals have easier access to the technology. However, this isn’t to say that this increase in mobile AR use will happen instantly. After all, one of the augmented reality issues, trends, and challenges that go with app development is software compatibility and lack of support for integration.
Despite these issues, the coming year is still slated for a big development in the area of mobile AR. More and more people are using smartphones and some even have multiple devices. Thus, app developers and publishers are likely to focus a lot of their efforts on filling this market.
Another way AR is shaping society is through the shopping experience. Through AR, shoppers can try before they decide to buy products. It’s become so popular over the past few years that it has also become one of the most recent retail trends.
In fact, about 61% of modern shoppers prefer buying from stores using AR (Hacker Noon). As a result, retailers are gearing up, with 46% of store owners saying that they are looking to transition to an AR or VR solution.
That said, experts predict that AR will grow at a CAGR of 39% from 2021 to 2027 (MarketWatch, 2021). After all, using AR as part of your service increases brand awareness and puts your brand together with other companies using AR like Amazon, Target, and IKEA. Moreover, incorporating it into your marketing campaigns, business processes, and customer service efforts allows you to stay competitive in an ever-growing online shopping world.
With AR at the forefront of your store, you will increase customer satisfaction, and make shopping more fun for your customers along the way. And with the pandemic, more consumers would want to take advantage of AR to try out apparel, furniture, and other products in the safety of their homes before purchasing them.
Aside from retail companies, AR is making waves in global businesses. Enterprises are now embracing AR as part of the service they provide. To stay up to date with evolving technology, 49% of companies use mixed reality for their workflows (HBR).
With the goal of increasing productivity, equipping employees with Smart Glasses that allow them to locate, scan, and sort warehouse inventory can increase productivity and keep an accurate list of items. According to the majority (68%) of businesses, this technology plays a vital role within their business, citing that MR and AR help them achieve strategic company goals (HBR).
Another way of doing this is through new employee orientation and training. Using AR in training new employees can help build their confidence. Moreover, it can better prepare them for real-life situations.
Of course, AR is not limited to improving internal company workflows. It can also reinforce customer-facing processes. For example, Unilever uses AR for remote assistance and knowledge sharing. Since implementing AR, Unilever saw a 50% downtime reduction, creating an ROI of 1717% (The Enterprisers Project, 2019).
Medical care is changing every day to ensure that doctors and professionals can provide the best healthcare for their patients. One of the augmented reality latest trends in healthcare is using AR. In fact, this sector is expected to hit $2.4 billion by 2026. This figure is not surprising, as the medical field is adjusting to the realities of Covid-19 and is discovering the benefits of AR.
62% of Americans believe that AR is most beneficial to the healthcare industry. One way AR is helping in healthcare is through blood drawing.
There are currently 60% of adults and 40% of children who need multiple attempts to find the right vein for drawing blood. With the use of AR, medical professionals are looking to decrease that number.
The AR technology used for this will map out the veins in the patient’s arm. That way, the doctor or nurse will have a better idea of where to stick the needle, lessening the chance of discomfort for the patient in the process.
Using AR technology for blood drawing reduces pain by 39% (Accuvein). This is because it allows medical professionals to accurately find the right veins before drawing blood. Aside from this, there are other augmented reality trends in healthcare.
Doctors use AR to better explain patient conditions. It helps the patient understand the situation by simplifying difficult medical terms. It’s also used to help guide medical practitioners on how to dress wounds.
During surgery, surgeons can have patient records within reach. Integrating tools for EHR with AR can help you pull outpatient records faster and display them on the doctor’s smart glasses or tablet for easy viewing.
Medical professionals are also taking advantage of AR in preparing for surgery. Surgeons use it for checklists and for walkthroughs of organs they need to work on. Additionally, doctors have been using it to better explain to patients the procedure they will undergo (Health Tech Magazine, 2020). AR is also looked at to augment the time spent on processes. One study showed that it can augment as much as 35% of work time in the health industry (Accenture, 2019).
Because of the lockdowns due to Covid-19, businesses had to close their offices and move a huge bulk of their operations to employees’ homes. As of September 2020, months after the initial quarantine restrictions, almost 40% of full-time employees were still working from home. Compared to the time before the pandemic, only 4% worked remotely (Gallup, 2020).
While it is evident that remote work has many benefits, it still has some drawbacks. One of which is that it can take a toll on collaborative efforts. After all, being able to conduct team meetings and assisting clients is essential to any workplace. Luckily, AR is bridging the gap. Through AR, everyone can work together easily without having to be in the same office together.
For starters, more platforms for online communications now support AR. This way, users can communicate with gestures and hand movements. There are also collaboration tools such as Spatial that uses life-like avatars for remote users so that it’s as if they are there with you physically during meetings. You can even create 3D mockups of your concepts, so it is easier to visualize projects.
Augmented reality in cars is expected to be worth $673 billion by 2025. However, just what should drivers expect when their vehicles come with AR technology?
Well, for starters, car companies are making significant investments for AR technology in their new vehicles. One notable example is Porsche, which invested $80 million in AR windshield tech (Motor1).
Meanwhile, Nvidia’s Drive is the biggest name in car AR. It uses a dashboard-mounted display and overlays graphics on camera footage so that you can get a transparent look behind the trailer your vehicle is pulling. Lastly, there’s the AR-enabled Genesis G80, which offers a holographic overlay that tracks a driver’s line of sight.
A more frequent use of AR for vehicles is GPS. With this, arrows on a heads-up display will prompt drivers on which way to go; thus, eliminating the need to look down on their mobile devices while driving. This makes it easier for them to navigate without worrying about distances.
On a more advanced level, car manufacturers now use AR in their showrooms so that you can test drive a car before making a purchase. For instance, Toyota’s immersive AR experience brings virtual cars to buyers for consideration (Forbes, 2019).
With 59% of car buyers doing their research online before deciding on a purchase (V12), Toyota’s AR experience is right up their alley. They can simply click on a banner ad, and it will take them to see everything about the vehicle and even put it in environments ranging from their driveway to long stretch of roads.
AR isn’t just reserved for entertainment, cars, and healthcare. It’s also making its way into the education system. Augmented reality trends in education affect the way students learn. In fact, at the rate it’s evolving, the educational technology industry, valued at $252 billion in 2020 (PRNewswire, 2021), is set to grow at a CAGR of 18.1% from 2020 to 2027 (Grand View Research, 2020). Twenty-eight percent of experts believe that AR will cause a disruption in the education industry in the following years (Perkins Coie, 2020).
With AR, teachers can keep students interested. It makes learning more fun and motivates students to come to school and learn every day. Teaching complex subjects with AR makes it easier for students. After all, with 95% of teenagers owning a smartphone (Pew Research Center, 2019), teaching with AR is more accessible and ready for use in the classroom.
For example, when teaching chemistry, educators can use paper cubes and student smartphones. Scanning the cubes will pull out information about the chemical it represents. Putting together two or more cubes will tell students what kind of reaction to expect from it.
What’s more, AR can assist students with learning disabilities. There are about 6.1 million children diagnosed with ADHD and ADD in the US (CDC, 2020). Teachers working with kids that have ADD and ADHD can use AR and VR to make lessons more interactive and lets the students focus on their lessons by blocking out distractions.
When people say augmented reality in gaming, the first thing that comes to their minds is Pokemon Go. After all, since this application’s successful launch in 2016, AR became a household term. Moreover, AR gaming has continued to grow and has seen the highest share of investments–54% (Perkins Coie, 2019).
For starters, following the release of AR kits from Google and Apple, developers have continued creating games with AR elements, looking to replicate PokemonGo’s success. AR has also become more popular that consumer spending on AR content or apps is expected to reach $8,034 million at the end of 2021 (Statista, 2020).
With its growing popularity, the AR gaming industry is expecting a CAGR of 152.7% by 2023 (Kenneth Research, 2019). Contributing factors to this growth include more integrations of AR technology into mobile devices as well as a growing online population. In addition, there are lots of innovations in the gaming community that can easily accommodate AR tech.
On another note, AR is also now easily accessible by smartphone. So, we can expect more AR games for mobile devices to be available in the market. These include Temple Treasure Hunt, Sharks in the Park, and WallaMe, among others. A lot of these applications are free on the App Store or Google Play.
Source: Statista 2020
AR hardware is the largest segment of the industry in terms of consumer spending as it accounts for 15%. After all, to experience AR, you need to have the right tool for the job.
In 2013, the world was introduced to Google Glass. A pair of smart glasses advertised to give users a different view of the world. However, the AR hardware wasn’t well-received. In fact, according to a 2014 survey, the results showed that 72% of consumers were hesitant to get the AR hardware for themselves, citing privacy as their main concern (CNET).
Since the launch of Google Glass, other types of AR hardware have made their way to consumers. Smartphones and tablets are just some of the more widespread hardware popular with the masses. As a result, hardware will be more comfortable to use and be able to address concerns like privacy.
Because of the tech’s growing popularity, it is expected to get a significant boost in the coming years. In 2015, only 0.7 million units of AR headsets were sold. However, future projections are optimistic: by 2025, AR and VR headset shipments worldwide are expected to reach 43.5 million (Statista, 2020).
There are plenty of ways to enjoy ar. For businesses, they can use it to improve their company processes as well as customer experience. For regular consumers, they can use this hardware as a virtual assistant as well as gaming tools.
It’s easy to get lost in a big building. And unlike when you’re driving, you can’t use your GPS to help you find your way to your destination. This makes indoor navigation a little more complex than outdoor navigation. It consists of three modules that need to work together to make it effective. These are Positioning, Mapping, and Rendering.
As of now, only Mapping is the most straightforward of the modules. Positioning’s challenge is that it can be difficult to tell a person’s exact location. Are they on the top floor of the building or the fourth floor? Lastly, rendering depends on Mapping’s accuracy.
As you can see in the video below, using indoor positioning side by side with AR can help users easily navigate their way through buildings and complexes. With this, they can make it to their appointments on time and get to where they need to be without having to stop for directions
AR indoor navigation is available for use in a variety of businesses. It can be used for universities, so freshmen in college and company visitors can easily find buildings. It’s also useful for hospitals, museums, and even airports.
An example of a company that’s looking into this tech is Dentreality.com. They are already planning to deploy their indoor navigation system and are offering interested businesses early access to this service.
AR remote assistance is beneficial to businesses and customers alike. Unilever is just one of the many companies that benefit from this feature. But how does AR remote assistance work?
Call center agents receive up to 50 calls per day (HubSpot, 2019). Traditionally, when customers call technical support, they do their best to describe the problem, while the agent offers steps for the customer to follow. However, more often than not, this does not resolve issues and only creates frustration.
AR is looking to change that. It combines live video streams with computer-generated images. With this, the agent on the other end can show rather than tell the customer how to fix their device. The customer can understand their instructions better, and there’s a higher chance that the issue can be resolved within the span of the call.
Currently, only 16% of Americans receive good customer support, but using AR remote assistance can help increase that number within the next few years.
Most consumers don’t like talking about banking and finance. That’s because the mere mention of numbers and figures is enough to turn a consumer off the topic. Augmented reality trends in banking aim to help consumers keep track of their finances better.
AR and VR in banking offer a rich visualization of their data and other services. Employees and customers alike will benefit from the use of AR in banks. For employees, AR can help them get a better view of banking operations and workflow processes. Meanwhile, clients can have a better understanding of how to maximize their savings, as well as investments.
Furthermore, banks all over the world have adopted AR into their day-to-day process. For example, the Axis Bank in India has a Near Me AR app that provides customers with an easy way to find finance-approved properties, ATM locations, and dining offers within their city. Another example is MoneyLion Utah’s app called Grow Your Stack, which allows customers to see a visual representation of their account balance.
Wells Fargo did not fall behind. The company designed and built an AR system for consumers to interact with bank tellers within a virtual space placed over reality. Moreover, it comes with gamification like AR games and puzzles.
With the numerous AR apps that banks offer, each one pretty much provides the same thing: convenience for customers. As a result, consumers can get better banking experiences. We expect that this trend will continue to advance in the coming years.
Internally, banks can utilize AR to visualize data. A report showed that nearly 70% of organizations that adopted AR and other XR technologies experienced a boost in their profit. That is because the innovations make it faster and easier to analyze information, allowing leaders to make crucial but informed decisions quickly (Adobe, 2020).
Much like the other industries mentioned on this list, insurance companies are also adopting AR. Through the use of AR, insurance companies can communicate and explain various parts of their service to their customers.
For example, the UK-based insurance company Allianz uses AR to make its customers aware of possible dangers within their homes. Using their smartphone, they can see such hazards. These range from an overheating toaster to crashed upstairs bathroom floors due to sink flooding, and much more.
Furthermore, their agents can also use AR to explain insurance plans to potential customers. A lot of people find it boring to listen to lectures; however, integrating AR into the equation allows customers to get a better understanding of a proposed plan, enabling them to make good decisions.
Lastly, insurance field workers can use this to estimate damages. Before, adjusters had to visit a property to give a damage estimate. Now, they can do it remotely with AR. They can use photographs sent by the property owners to create a 3D model of the area. In a similar light, technical specialists can assess damage volume through overlays of object images representing its condition before and after the incident.
Augmented reality is also very helpful for ads. With nearly 4.66 billion active internet users as of October 2020 all over the world (DataReportal, 2020), products are more noticeable, and the digital advertising industry is booming. Worldwide spending on these digital ads is projected to grow to $398 billion by the end of 2021 (Statista, 2021).
AR allows your brand to interact with your customers by giving them a ‘free taste’ of the product before making a purchase. IKEA is well known for its AR app that allows customers to see what a piece of furniture will look like inside their home. AR can also be used by customers to scan products in stores like dresses, makeup, and shoes before buying them.
AR can also be used to provide customers with information that a brochure or flyer doesn’t have. Using the app to scan the brochure at just the right spot will pull up a video or photo expanding on the information found on paper. AR can also be used on business cards, which shows users various ways to get in touch with others like LinkedIn, phone calls, or email.
An AR Cloud is a machine-readable 1:1 scale model of the world. It is continuously updated to ensure that it represents the environment at all times. Its main uses include training, music streaming, education, travel, real estate, healthcare, retail, and social messaging.
Aside from Google and Apple, other enterprises like Facebook, Snapchat, and Amazon released their own AR studios. With the support of these five tech giants, more AR applications will be released in the coming years.
An AR cloud can be used for indoor navigation as well, one example being Immersal’s indoor navigation app for the Messukeskus Expo in the Helsinki Exhibition Center in Finland. Visitors scan ArUco markers, which are large double-sided markers hanging from the ceiling. This pulls out the center’s map, which allows visitors to easily find their destination.
Events organization is another function of the AR Cloud. Geogram, a 3D editor, CMS, and publishing desk uses AR Cloud to let managers design, schedule, and manage the physical and virtual environments of a planned event remotely.
Through the use of the app, a manager can easily decide on the location of tables, kiosks, and other relevant stations from their device. They can update it however they like during the planning phase. Overall, it saves time for event organizers by letting them do everything via their smartphones.
Lastly, it is used in gaming. Niantic developed and released Pokemon Go in 2016. Since then, the game saw various updates, including occlusion and multiplayer features. Even during the pandemic in March 2020, plenty of people still played the game and spent an astounding $23 million on in-game purchases. US players accounted for $7.8 million in the week beginning March 16, 2020. This figure represented 34% of the global revenue for that period (PocketGamer.biz, 2020).
WebAR gives advertising a new look with the use of smartphones. All users have to do is point their device to an object, and a 3D rendering will be projected above it. With this, people can share AR experiences with each other over the internet without the use of an app (Built In, 2020).
Since its release, 80% of end-users have spent more than one full minute within each published WebAR they experience (Medium, 2019). Adopting WebAR for your business ads will mean better engagements for your target audience. This is also beneficial because it is interactive, and studies show that interactive content is 80% more memorable for the consumer.
Additionally, WebAR has a vast reach: 8th Wall WebAR technology alone can reach almost 3 billion Android devices and iPhones. In comparison, ARKit reach is only 1.11 billion (Marketing Dive, 2021). This means you can reach more people just from your native app. Other benefits include:
One thing AR an AI have in common is that they are among the most promising technological advancements today. What’s more, they can be used together to give users a more unique experience.
AR constructs a 3D representation of the world and uses visual data to help build a map that can track movement within it. AI is then used to enhance the AR experience by layering itself on top of the AR functions.
Combining AR and AI creates opportunities that were once thought to be impossible. Some of these include real-time face-swapping from your phone, visually changing your age in real-time, or creating an effect similar to the People Blocker from Black Mirror.
Using these two technologies together creates possibilities that will change the way we see the world.
Over 4000 virtual Vtubers are currently in Japan. These are YouTubers that, rather than face the camera themselves, opt to use a digital version of themselves or an avatar.
It’s already on the rise, Twitch streamers can give themselves a virtual makeover through Snap’s AR effects that gives users a choice of filters. This gives content creators a way to get creative with themselves while doing live streams of their games and more.
An example of an avatar influencer is Lil Miquela. Lil Miquela is a virtual influencer mainly active on Instagram. She is a product of an avatar created through AR and has been active since 2016. Lil Miquela is used as a marketing tool and has been featured in fashion endorsements from streetwear and luxury brands.
However, avatar usage goes beyond social media and marketing. It can also be applied to teaching and training. When using avatars to teach, students will be more willing to engage and listen to the teacher.
In 2019, Apple patented a gesture, expression tracking for a mixed reality headset (Variety, 2019). The headset is designed to track eyes, gestures, and the user’s facial expressions. The handset will work together with Augmented Reality, where users can see an overlay of virtual objects and worlds.
Additionally, eye tracking is useful for identifying users and customizing the lens width for a more personalized experience for each user. This can be seen on the HoloLens 2.
Aside from headsets, companies like Pupil Labs and Tobii give eye-tracking hardware add-ons and software for AR/VR headsets. That way, any headset can provide that immersive experience. Other benefits of this technology are:
When it comes to AR headsets, Microsoft HoloLens 2 is the leader. What makes it a go-to for users is its comfort and field of vision. In addition, it comes with significantly better features compared to its predecessor.
For starters, the headset’s view implements a laser technology that creates a microelectromechanical system. This allows the HoloLens 2 to position waveguides right in front of the user’s eyes using mirrors. Shifting these mirrors will then enable the user to enlarge the images as they see fit.
While this is definitely impressive, we’ll have to note that this tech is certainly not the only one of its kind. There are other providers of AR headsets such as Magic Leap and Meta 2, which offer more or less the same features.
Within the next few years, there will be better developments to achieve that natural human 120-degree horizontal field of view. This will eventually make the technology more comfortable to use. Moreover, it will then have the capability to really immerse users.
Applications like Pokemon Go and Snapchat may have brought augmented reality into the spotlight. However, as you have seen in this article, the technology behind these apps can go beyond providing entertainment.
AR plays a massive role in today’s emerging technology trends. It is clearly making changes to the way industries operate, as well as how people go about their day-to-day routines. These have paved the way for more immersive educational experiences for students, improved navigation for drivers, and reinforced medical procedures in hospitals. Moreover, AR made it possible for distributed teams to collaborate seamlessly. Since the pandemic is still in full force, this is a great benefit to companies whose workers are mostly working from home. Additionally, it is an avenue for marketers to create increasingly effective and efficient campaigns.
With these innovations, we expect consumers to set higher expectations for the brands that they do business with. So, it makes sense for companies to look into how they can incorporate augmented reality into their operations as early as now. This way, you can stay ahead of the curve and make your business thrive even as technologies reshape the business landscape.
You can start small by leveraging AR-enabled apps for your website or perhaps using it as part of your company’s learning and development program. Alternatively, you can use free AR kits from Google and Apple to equip your business app with AR properties during the application development phase.
If you’d like more information on this topic, be sure to also check out our compilation of augmented reality statistics. With this, you can get additional data as to how other companies are leveraging this technology.
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