- AR stands for Augmented Reality, literally translated an expanded reality. With Augmented Reality, a virtual layer is placed over the physical reality, for example via AR glasses such as the Hololens 2 or your smartphone screen. AR offers applications for various industries from B2C to B2B. In this blog we tell you more about AR and its applications in different sectors
1. Difference AR and VR
The terms Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are often used interchangeably. This is not correct, because they are different things. With AR you see digital images within or over physical reality, with VR reality is completely replaced by a digital reality. This allows AR to interact with your environment, while VR closes you off from your environment so that you can interact with a fictional virtual world. With AR you can think of the Google Translate app, with VR you can think of a flight simulator.
Applicability of AR
The difference makes VR less accessible than AR: it takes more than a smartphone to give you the idea that you are in a completely different space. The interaction between reality and digital projections also has a lot of potential: 87% of companies are orienting towards, implementing or using Augmented Reality.
There are many opportunities to think of, for example in terms of games (think of the popular Pokemon Go), branding & marketing, customer services, e-learning & training via simulation, remote assistance & collaboration, 3D models for architecture & product design and so on.
2. The Future and AR
The great added value of AR is the ability to display complex information in the form of 3D models. This makes it possible, for example, to make the way a new building will look much easier for the contractor than with 2D construction drawings. In fact, AR can use 3D models to provide insight into what cannot be imagined without AR. Think of complex 2D construction drawings that you cannot visualize yourself in 3D. AR increases our understanding of reality in this way and in many other ways.
In addition, AR has many practical applications for both consumers and businesses. Think, for example, of the options that Google Translate already offers. By hanging your smartphone screen in front of a sign with Chinese characters, you can conjure up the translation in AR in no time. This offers consumers opportunities in other areas: from extra information in museums that appears after scanning an object to allergen information via scanning products in the supermarket.
But there are also many options for companies remote Assistance where step-by-step explanations can be presented on the device you are mounting to data visualization of oil level and other data.
AR is the future
Combining these possibilities for visualizing our work and sharing ideas with the ease with which they can be applied, AR is definitely the future. Social Brothers expects Augmented Reality to change everyday reality.
AR will ensure that screens largely disappear. In a few years' time, we will project our digital images onto current events. That gives us new ways to learn, collaborate and create things and is fundamentally changing the business world.
3. AR with smartphone
With the ability to project 3D animations onto the camera images built into modern smartphones, such as via iOS ARkit, we have AR at our fingertips. Snapchat filters or the popular game Pokemon GO are examples of Augmented Reality via your smartphone.
B2C and smartphones
In the B2C sector, there are already many applications for displaying furniture, televisions and other products in the environment. This way you can see how big your television actually is before purchasing online and you can check whether your IKEA sofa is in your living room. This gives you a better idea of the product and its possibilities than through text, photos and videos. A good example of product visualization is the 3D model of the SEAT Ibiza.
B2B and complex information
In the B2B sector it will be easier to AR glasses to deploy. This is a significant investment for consumers, but many companies are already working on it. Because AR glasses can handle more complex tasks and because of the great advantage that your hands are free, this will also be necessary in many sectors. This does not alter the fact that there are also plenty of options for AR via the smartphone in this sector.
For example, with AR complex information can be shared in a low-threshold manner. Think of 3D drawings of a construction site that make the final result so much easier visually than 2D drawings. The 3D exploded views can also be useful for other technical professions in the creation, maintenance and repair of products.
Furthermore, the camera used for AR is also suitable for taking 3D measurements of rooms and buildings. With 3D scanning you quickly have an error-free image with the exact dimensions of a room in a building. It is not possible to forget an angle and therefore you never have to go back to the location to measure again. Work processes can thus be carried out more efficiently.
4. AR glasses or headset
Although smartphones already offer many options, there are also disadvantages to Augmented Reality via the smartphone. That way you don't have your hands free. That's no problem for short games or when projecting your new sofa into your living room. However, it becomes more difficult if you spend longer with AR and/or if you have to do other things at the same time, such as with so-called first line workers.
AR and first line workers
First line workers are task-oriented employees who often form the backbone of your company and keep the daily routines going in the company. They are also often the ones who have direct contact with the customer and thus form the face of the company. Think of production employees, desk employees, mechanics or care employees. For them, AR glasses, such as the Microsoft Hololens, offer a solution, especially for many business applications.
Practical AR glasses
Important for the future of AR is the development of practical AR glasses. Imagine what would happen if your smartphone's AR capabilities could be integrated into tiny glasses or even a lens. These devices will be too small to provide sufficient computing power, but that is no problem with an active internet connection.
For example, look at the possibilities of a Chromebook: the computing power here is not located in the device, but on external servers. At the moment there are high expectations about the development of new AR glasses such as the expected Apple Glass, about which many rumors are already circulating.
Read here about Attune's the application possibilities of AR glasses or discover which AR glasses are available.
The most widely used tool to build both AR and VR apps is Unity. Unreal is also used. Unity is originally a game engine and is used for many 3D games. This makes the program very suitable for making the interactive 3D models needed for AR. In addition, at Social Brothers we use the techniques available in iOS (ARkit) and Android (ARCore). In this way AR does not only remain with the happy few with a hololens, but it is accessible to everyone.
An advantage of Unity is that it has a clear interface that makes it easy to learn to work with. In addition, it is a very flexible program and offers many possibilities. This is evident from the fact that it was developed for making games, but can also be used for AR apps.
A third advantage is that Unity can quickly build 3D models, partly because of the possibility to reuse code from yourself or others. A lot of material can be bought in the asset store, so that you rarely from scratch need to build. Unity also continues to expand with new capabilities.
Do you want to know more about Unity? Read our blog about this.
6. AR and Branding
AR is the next step in the evolution of media. We have experienced a development from text to audio and image. Image has again undergone a development from still image to moving image. The next logical step is the 3D image of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. It is therefore no wonder that AR will play a role in branding, marketing and sales, just like the aforementioned media. Augmented Reality Advertising (ARA) was born.
The main advantage of AR is that it attracts and retains attention. In addition, the richer the information, or rather the more senses are involved, the better you will remember the information. 3D images are by definition richer in information than 2D images or text. This also helps you remember the message that is brought to you via AR.
That makes AR a suitable means of marketing campaigns and branding. There have been several high-profile campaigns in the past in which a brand was marketed through ARA. Take a look at HubSpot for seven innovative examples.
Social Brothers has used AR in this way, among other things, in the Fuze Tea campaign of restaurant Stan&Co. Read more about this in us blog about AR in the B2C sector.
7. AR, Marketing and Sales
Augmented Reality goes beyond branding in the B2C sector. It can also be used practically in marketing and sales and in this way AR has even more added value.
Online shopping with AR
There is an increasing amount of online shopping. In retail, 10% of sales go through e-commerce and this share will only grow. Even when customers buy a product in the physical store, they have often already done research online beforehand. 96% of the Dutch buy online.
Online shopping naturally offers advantages: not only can you oversee a larger range instead of just the models present in the store, you can also shop quietly without walking through a busy center or crowded shopping boulevard. But there are also disadvantages: you cannot see, touch, try on a product, etc.
Projecting a dress onto yourself in a digital fitting room or a sofa in the living room offers advantages. Also consider the possibilities for large projects: what will your new-build house look like or what will your future car look like? We made this first possible for SEAT. Even before your car is delivered, it is already at your door in AR.
Learn more about AR marketing opportunities in the B2C sector here.
More and more, meetings are not taking place in the physical, but in the digital world: from meetings via Zoom to following a course via an online webinar. Augmented Reality can contribute to these encounters and make the possibilities for exchanging information even greater.
By not only exchanging video and audio, such as through a normal online meeting, but also sharing 3D models of objects, this form of digital communication also opens up possibilities for industries where remote working was not possible until now. We are talking about remote assistance or remote collaboration. By also sharing 3D models, it is possible, for example, to carry out inspections of ships' engines remotely. Read more about remote assistance.
Consumers and remote assistance
Such remote assistance would also be possible for consumers in the course of time. Just as we now use YouTube videos when performing non-everyday tasks such as changing a tire or unclogging the sink, in the future we may use remote assistance via AR, whereby a digital layer over the actual person the other side can indicate exactly which parts you have to take apart.
Remote assistance already saves (travel) time and money, at least in the B2B sector. It also shortens the customer's waiting time, while still being able to deliver a high level of service. And this is how AR optimizes your business process.
9. AR and eLearning
We have already mentioned that AR attracts attention and that people remember a message conveyed via AR better because the information is richer and more senses are stimulated. This not only offers advantages for marketing, but also in education or other learning settings. However, the power of AR in education goes further. Read more about the benefits of AR and e-learning here.
Visualization in class
By using AR in educational settings you can make things much clearer and lessons become more interesting. For example, consider showing virtual objects in the classroom, such as an AR projection of a beating heart in biology class. Not only can this make it much clearer how a heart works, but it can also have adverse effects on certain heart diseases. After all, it can all be shown and this will ensure a better understanding.
The invisible can also be shown, for example by representing magnetic fields. This will again ensure that the concept is better understood.
Learning in 'practice'
Augmented Reality also offers the possibility to learn by doing, also called active learning of experiential learning mentioned. For example, consider a first aid course where you actively learn to extinguish a fire. You then learn it in a real context and can safely experiment to see which extinguishing agent works best.
An additional advantage is that this learning by doing is safe. A third advantage is that hands-on training is no longer tied to a specific location, but can take place in many different rooms. A good example of practical learning via AR is the risk analysis of TCC. Read more about the case here.
Motivation and confidence
Not only do you learn by doing with AR, you also gain more confidence in your own skills. AR and VR workouts are good for increasing self-efficacy† That is the belief that you are capable of performing a particular task.
This belief increases your motivation to begin that task. If you've already extinguished a fire in a certain location through simulation training, you probably have more confidence in your own skills if a fire breaks out in real life.
Note that this is not about self-confidence, as it is not about confidence in oneself, but confidence in one's own skills. However, it is also not about the actual efficiency, because it is an estimate of one's own efficiency for a certain task.
It has been scientifically proven that training with AR has a positive effect on Self Efficacy in practical tasks, such as assembling a motherboard. Students who had to master these tasks with AR also completed the assembly of the motherboard faster with less help. This means that AR can become an important and powerful tool in education today.
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