In 2016, a gaming phenomenon briefly dominated the headlines. Pokémon Go was the first widely used example of Augmented Reality (AR) in common culture.
Whilst half the world were off hunting furry creatures on their phones, the technology behind the game was evolving rapidly, with many different areas exploring the potential of using AR. Not only was gaming being revolutionized, but customer services, businesses, engineering and manufacturing were all finding new and exciting ways of exploiting AR.
Take airplane manufacturers, Boeing, as an example of where AR is leading us in terms of manufacturing. They recently conducted an experiment with factory operatives who were asked to use AR instructions to assemble an airplane wing. The results were startling; they found a 30% reduction in time to assemble as well as an eye-catching 90% improvement in accuracy.
AR allows companies to build virtual prototypes of their product which is then used to provide accurate guidance to engineers and operatives on exactly how to progress. Whilst something large like an airplane wing is one example, even very intricate procedures can benefit from the technology. AR could help with the manufacturing of certain types of PCBs allowing a designer to flick between a real-life PCB and the AR prototype. This type of manufacturing needs to be incredibly accurate and can be very intricate too, a process made much simpler with an AR mock-up and clear guidance.
That type of application might not impact our mainstream culture, but over the next year or two, there is a likelihood you’ll be using AR technology in some manner. IKEA is one company who has embraced the new technology, allowing you to download an app which gives a consumer the opportunity to view a certain piece of furniture in their home, using AR technology. It might be you’ve already seen and used this, but if not, your next furniture purchase could well benefit from the ever-evolving world of AR.
One area that is set to see huge growth with AR evolution is the teaching sector. Very detailed instructions and demonstrations can now be delivered directly to a headset making advanced learning much more straightforward. Think about the health service as an example; trainee surgeons will be able to carry out intricate operations using AR without breaking the skin of a real person, delivering much more effective ‘on the job’ training.
Even those already in certain sectors could benefit. An AR headset could be used during surgical procedures to deliver key information to those who need it, even allowing for digital mock-ups of tumors to be made ahead of a procedure. This isn’t commonplace right now, but it is an area likely to see AR expansion over the coming decade.
A key area in which we have seen very little right now is Extended Reality, known as XR. This is predominately going to be used in the entertainment sector, and is an amalgamation of Virtual Reality, Mixed Reality and Augmented Reality. The market for XR technology could reach $200bn by 2022, offering users an immersive entertainment experience in which they can sense smells, taste and touch of objects and people that are not really there.
For more information on Augmented Reality be sure to check out our list of sessions taking place in Boston this June.