Annual spending on augmented reality is expected to soar to $60 billion by 2020. Augmented reality is the use of technology that superimposes digital data with images from the real world. This emerging technology promises to close the gap between real and virtual worlds. No longer are we limited to two-dimensional pages and screens; reality is three-dimensional and now our digital worlds will imitate life.
Still in its infancy, augmented reality (AR) is poised to enter the mainstream. Soon, it will affect every industry and many types of organizations, from universities to manufacturing. In the future, AR will transform how we learn, make decisions and interact with the physical world. It will also change how businesses design and create products, manage their value chains, serve customers, train employees and, ultimately, how they gain a competitive edge.
AR is an evolving technology with many applications. It is becoming essential that most businesses embrace it. Its significance will continue to grow because it amplifies the power of business to create value and approach competition in a new way. AR is becoming the way humans interface with artificial intelligence; it bridges the gap between physical and digital worlds.
At its core, AR processes volumes of data and transforms them into images or animations that are overlaid into the real world. Today, most AR applications are accessed through mobile devices, but increasingly delivery will shift to hands-free virtual reality such as smart glasses. Current popular applications such as Pokémon Go and Snapchat filters are fun and lighthearted; in the future AR will be more businesslike and practical. For example, AR displays are being integrated into automobile navigation, collision warnings and other informational displays. Wearable AR for factory workers are being tested for the manufacturing environment. These devices superimpose instructions and production-assembly that will be used to supplement or replace training manuals and other training strategies.
AR is making advances in consumer markets, but emerging technology is having an impact on human performance in industrial environments as well. For example, AR is being used toward the end of the manufacturing process by the U.S. Navy in the production of aircraft carriers. AR allows quality control through ship inspection. In the past, inspectors relied on 2-dimensional blueprints but now they are using AR to compare the final product with the design plans to look for anomalies. The Navy reports that AR is reducing their inspection time by 96% – from 36 hours down to 90 minutes. Overall, typical manufacturing AR applications report a 25% reduction in time.
AR is spreading through the workplace, homes and factories. Increasingly, AR improves how users visualize and access data. It is a powerful magnifier of intelligence and connectivity. Smart businesses today will begin to design and build products digitally so they will have digital models to use in developing AR applications. They should figure out where AR can generate the most value in their operations and services. Consider applying AR to situations that are dangerous, remote and complex. Consider where AR can enhance existing products and services and where AR can help you build new ones from scratch.
AR will give your business a competitive edge; if you and competitor provide the same service and you offer an AR component, that creates value for the customer and differentiates you within your industry.
Whatever innovations AR holds for business in the future, Lanier Upshaw will be there to help businesses deal with emerging risks. Lanier Upshaw would love to help your business mitigate your risk factors today and into the future. Contact us here to learn more.