Augmented reality might have featured prominently in sales and marketing tactics to elevate the consumer experience during Covid. Retail has used augmented reality platforms to provide virtual previews for clothes and makeup; customers could download a photo and then try on the products. Automotive companies have used augmented reality for new product launches (Lamborghini, for example!).
Other industries also have integrated augmented reality into their user experiences, but will the AR trend continue once Covid subsides and business as normal resumes? Augmented reality may be advantageous for five industries, according to AR Post. These industries, per the site, are sports, healthcare, tourism, events and housing.
During Covid, sports venues weren’t selling tickets for their games. Spectators became used to watching sporting events with no one in the audience. But some sports events integrated technology to create a unique user experience.
NASCAR, for example, offered eNASCAR and the NASCAR iRacing Series. The series allowed competitors across the country to race at home…virtually. Sporting News explained that these racing events weren’t games, but, rather, simulations. The simulations were a bit more virtual reality than augmented reality, however, back in 2019, NASCAR also released The NASCAR AR Burnout Experience by Goodyear. The augmented reality experience let users do burnouts with a virtual vehicle.
CNBC reported that Major League Baseball also could be looking to leverage augmented reality into user experiences, perhaps using augmented reality glasses.
Spectators are probably already used to seeing augmented reality in some form via sporting events, however. Watching football games, spectators often see play graphics superimposed on the field.
In the future, however, sports organizations could create unique augmented reality experiences to enhance the viewing experience for those who may be watching from home. Or maybe virtual reality experiences mix into the real life spectatorship. Will the audience start viewing games through augmented reality glasses or virtual reality headsets?
Surgeons may use augmented reality technology to guide them in the operating room, but the Alliance of Advanced BioMedical Engineering points to several other ways this technology has enhanced the healthcare industry.
The site points out that a dentist can use augmented reality via smart glasses to create more precise crowns. Nurses may use augmented reality for training simulations. Augmented reality also is used via MRI or CT scans to provide data to guide surgeons “…by superimposing stereoscopic projections during a surgical procedure.” There is even an AR game that helps gauge if pediatric patients can lie still long enough for an MRI or other procedure.
Augmented reality is used throughout the healthcare industry, and, as this technology advances, it will likely become an even more crucial tool for the sector. During Covid, virtual doctor visits were commonplace. In the future, perhaps the doctor or nurse drops into a chair next to a patient at their home using augmented reality. Phones or tablets could be used to create an augmented virtual visit!
The housing industry during Covid might have benefited from virtual experiences, especially virtual tours available online. But what about augmented reality?
Real Trends notes that augmented reality may be used to provide potential buyers with virtual staging. That is, augmented reality platforms may be able to let buyers see an empty house fully furnished. Call this ‘virtual staging.’ Instead of a blank canvas, buyers could see the house as a potential home.
Augmented reality is used by designers, too. Think of home shows where designers show homeowners what a renovation will look like. These design platforms may utilize the power of augmented reality to add in new features or swap out old appliances. The result is a preview of a future design.
Augmented reality also can help builders (or REALTORS®) show potential buyers what their future home may look like. Picturing a new home on a bare piece of land takes some imagination, but augmented reality could help builders place a graphic overlay of the home on the land to give prospective buyers a better visualization of their home.
Virtual concerts were the new norm during Covid. Maybe this continues after Covid? Will events always look so different? Instead of buying tickets to a massive stadium filled with other concert-goers, many watched musicians perform remotely.
Covid impacted other events, too. Broadway went silent. Even movies might have paused production during the worst of the pandemic. Instead of releasing new movies directly to major movie theatres, some studios released their potential blockbusters via streaming services or to both streaming services and theaters. The way moviegoers enjoyed their favorite flicks might have changed dramatically during Covid. Instead of buying tickets and concessions at the theater, many purchased their favorite snacks at stores and purchased their movie via services. The couch became the new theater seating.
AR Post discussed how augmented reality changed other events, though. The site reported that back in 2018, almost 90 percent of event planners had planned to integrate some type of augmented reality.
During Covid, conferences and trade shows obviously couldn’t take place. Different events like conferences or other events likely went virtual…or maybe integrated some type of augmented reality. Event hosts likely had to get creative to reimagine the in-person experience as something virtual while still providing users with a positive experience. The 2020 International Consumer Electronics Show was completely virtual.
In a story via Exhibitor Online, it was reported that the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) explained its digital move via a press conference. The association’s senior vice president of marketing and communications, Jean Foster was quoted in Exhibitor Online’s article:
“CES is one of the most experiential events in the world, where attendees can actually see and touch and experience the latest innovations. And while we can’t recreate that magic that happens in Las Vegas, we can bring our audiences a new, unique, all-digital experience,” said Foster, as noted in the article for Exhibitor Online. “We’ve been working for many months now to identify and create a solution that supports the uniqueness of CES. We knew that we couldn’t just take the existing trade show setup and move it online… So we threw out the playbook, and we decided not just to recreate CES, but also to reimagine it.”
Reimagining events via virtual or augmented reality platforms could possibly become the norm. While trade shows may continue to be held each year, perhaps event hosts also launch online offerings to allow virtual attendance. Or maybe the trade shows or events offer special online virtual and augmented reality experiences as an extension of the in-person event.
AR Post included tourism/travel among the industries it felt could benefit from augmented reality. During Covid, museums and other cultural venues and historic sites around the world shuttered. No one was really going on vacation during Covid, as many limited travel to only necessary trips. Perhaps many consumers saw a simple trip to the grocery store as a major outing.
Back in May, the International Council of Museums reported that 95 percent were shuttered because of Covid. Keeping staff and guests safe became the major priority. Yet, closing meant a major loss of income for these institutions.
Many museums, however, offered guests virtual tours and visits that were accessible online. Guests could sit at home and tour major art museums and galleries. While these didn’t take the place in-person visits, they did provide access to cultural experiences that would have otherwise been extremely limited during the pandemic. The Louvre, for example, offered online tours. The museum also has a special section on its web site just for kids that features stories and an online gallery.
Perhaps these virtual or augmented reality experiences also encouraged online visitors to make donations or purchase items from online gift stores (if they were available).
What Other Industries Could Benefit from Augmented Reality?
While AR Post highlighted five major industries that might benefit from augmented reality, this technology has far-reaching significance across numerous other industries, too. Augmented reality may continue to influence the retail and automotive industries, too.
IKEA offers an augmented reality app called IKEA Place to allow shoppers to preview products in a real space. This helps shoppers better understand if a chair, rug or other décor element is going to work in their home. When shopping online, any experience that takes the guesswork out of a buying decision may be of value.
Sephora and Ulta also both offer their customers the option to virtually try on products to gauge if a color or product is a good fit. Sephora offers Virtual Artist, and Ulta offers GLAMlab. Customers can upload a photo and then try on different beauty products before making their purchase. Not only can this possibly reduce returns but the augmented reality experiences also may improve customer experience.
The automotive industry has used augmented reality in many capacities. Augmented reality is built into backup cameras to provide graphic overlay grid lines that illustrate the car’s turning radius. Manufacturers also have used augmented reality experiences to enhance marketing initiatives. Augmented reality also has been used to aid mechanics in repairs. Porsche’s Tech Live Look is a great example regarding how automotive manufacturers use augmented reality in repair work. Ferrari uses augmented reality via an app that provides an x-ray look at a vehicle and provides detailed views of other mechanical features (like the brakes); the app also lets shoppers switch out paint hues on cars in display at a dealership showroom.
So what does augmented reality hold for the future of these industries? More uses of this technology could interweave into consumer experiences. In the healthcare industry, advances in augmented technology could provide even more insight during surgeries or other procedures. While the world may go back to the old normal after Covid, the use of augmented reality likely won’t dissipate. As industries explore new methods for implementing this technology, consumers could see their experiences elevated with both augmented reality and virtual reality technological features.