The global pandemic forced us to take our operations online, creating a heavy reliance on virtual experiences. Augmented reality (AR) is to thank for the successful transition and growth of virtual experiences across a variety of industries. Its increasing accessibility has helped this technology become a familiar feature on mobile devices and computers, and new industries are taking advantage of it. As we move forward into 2021, there are a few industries that will show rapid growth and adoption of AR in ways that we’ve never seen before including e-commerce, education, the food service industry and industrial sectors. Here’s how:
As a safety precaution, many people limited their in-store shopping plans this year and instead opted for the e-commerce experience. Online retailers have been and will continue adjusting their online platforms moving into 2021 to create more fulfilling shopping experiences that come as close to the in-person experience as possible to increase sales and minimize returns.
Many retailers who have introduced AR-backed 3D models and ads have found it to be useful in boosting buyer confidence due to the “try before you buy” online shopping experience. Brands such as Ikea and Home Depot have begun using AR in order to help customers preview their furniture to scale in the safety of their own home and according to a Nielsen global survey from 2019, consumers listed Augmented and Virtual Reality as the top technologies they’re seeking to assist them in their daily lives.
Education was publicly thrust into the public eye as students all across the nation had to switch to virtual learning and as a result, ed-tech Investments are expected to grow by 16.1% a year to reach $181 Bn by 2025. We started to see AR start to emerge as a way to support education areas that are challenging to teach in a virtual setting. For example, it’s not easy for students to gain access to labs or the necessary equipment needed for physics, chemistry and even geology labs. However, using AR in these labs would not only eliminate the need for expensive supplies and equipment, but would also provide a more personalized teacher-student setting. For example, students can perform a dissection biology lab without needing to physically be in the lab, using an AR model. dissection day.
The food service industry may have been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic with many restaurants closing down for good. AR is and will continue to be used to give restaurants access to education for survival and creating hybrid live/virtual experiences to engage customers from afar. AR will offer foodservice industry professional opportunities to connect virtually to showcase skills and products using AR human hologram-led demonstrations and 3D, volumetric objects. These efforts can drive sales, customer loyalty and innovation among restaurateurs and vendors at a time when the industry is feeling the impact of COVID-19. The use of AR also humanizes and brings to light the people and process behind how food gets from farm or sea to our plates. A report from The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) found that 65% of people want to know more about where their food comes from. Keeping consumers informed will ensure the most frequent and lucrative visitors keep returning to the food outlets they love.
The pandemic created a sense of urgency that accelerated the digital transformation of more industrial industries. As they’ve been forced to accommodate virtual experiences and remote work, they’ve seen firsthand how AR and human holograms open new doors for supply chain transparency, global sales and industry-focused education. Many of these industries work with large, complex technologies that can now be accessed and viewed in 3D from any mobile device. Holograms used at industrial conventions and events can provide attendees with the ability to see large industrial equipment that simply could not be brought in as a demonstration at an in-person expo or event.
Even after the pandemic comes to an end, there will be many industries that continue to use the unique and practical tools that have helped them get back on their feet. Augmented reality specifically, has aided many of the industries listed above, transforming into a crucial tool for them all. From education to ecommerce, AR has opened up a world of possibilities and will continue to open up doors for creativity and innovation for years to come.