Augmented Reality, or AR, is something you keep hearing. Maybe you even have used AR for a game or other personal uses. But small business owners may wonder: what’s in it for me?
What is AR?
AR takes images and video of what’s there and adds to it, or augments. You might think of it as a digitally formatted version of reality. AR differs from Virtual Reality (VR) in that while AR acts as more of an extension of the real world, VR effectively shuts out the rest of the world while allowing you to submerge yourself in the reality created for you. Mixed reality (MR) is a combination of the two, in which users wear VR headsets, but can interact with objects in the real world.
You have probably already embedded AR in your daily life. Snapchat filters, Pokémon Go, and Google Maps feature AR. These applications have proven that AR offers value in both fun and practical ways.
Down to Business
Scientifically, one might observe that the AR experience offers multi-sensory engagement, intellectual engagement, and emotional connections. In real speak, AR seems cool to people, and they want to use it.
That’s one reason AR can improve interaction and connection between businesses and their clients. One of these connections is through content and advertising. AR’s novelty makes it more appealing, even as consumers typically shy away from direct ads. Another upside: your consumers will see your business as technologically savvy in the consumer world.
One example of this is via Snapchat filters. Companies are advertising using AR filters, such as Taco Bell’s Cinco de Mayo filter, which was viewed more than 224 million times, making it the most successful ad campaign in the Snapchat history. Clearly, partnering with already successful apps can allow for your brand to gain mass exposure. Then, the additional AR experience can set your message apart, making your presentation unique.
Focusing on Small Business
Not every business has the financial capacity to pay for Snapchat filter ad space, valued at around $750,000. Nevertheless, AR can still provide benefits to small businesses, either as a marketing tool or for internal use.
The global augmented reality market is expected to grow to about 90 billion U.S. dollars by 2020, according to Statistica. According to a 2016 ISACA survey, 60 to 70 percent of consumers see clear benefits in using AR in their daily life and at work. People see AR helping them learn new skills, shop, use healthcare service, train at work, learn about new products, and participate remotely for work or learning.
AR within an app may be an inventive way to modify your services so that they solve other problems out in the world. Your AR might be the path to consultation, measurement, or advice. Some companies (Wayfair, IKEA) offer AR so you can see what furniture may look like when in your home. Others use AR to train employees who will later be operating heavy machinery. AR can also be used to:
- Select orders within a warehouse
- Create checklists for pilots
- Show directions while driving
- Put your brick-and-mortar on a map, as in Yelp Monocle
- Create standout business cards
Another upside of AR is that implementation can potentially bring an increase in revenue. With the newfound ease of solving everyday problems, consumers have already started bringing their business to companies that have AR capabilities. This has been measured in the real estate industry, in which certain companies have developed apps that allow the user to interactively “walk through” houses on the market. As a result, it has been estimated that in 2025, AR in real estate alone will become a $2.6 billion industry.
Implementation Sooner Rather Than Later
Small business owners might still be wondering how they can use AR. Each company’s approach will be different based on their services and products. Now is the time to start brainstorming its use. As the rate of mobile phone and application development continues to increase exponentially, you do not want your business to be left behind in the increasingly digital world.
AR can set your small business apart competitively in that during this growth stage. Plus, developing with AR may unearth processes and solutions to consumer problems you hadn’t yet uncovered. If you’d like to figure out how to make AR work for your business, talk to us.