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Augmented Reality in Business: Beyond Gaming and Entertainment

Jaryd Sage 28 November 2023
Article

Augmented Reality (AR), once a staple of gaming and entertainment, has rapidly evolved into a powerful business tool, reshaping how companies operate and engage with customers. AR’s influence extends across various sectors. In retail, healthcare, and real estate. By overlaying digital information onto our view of the real world, AR provides an interactive and enhanced view of reality, offering myriad possibilities for businesses.

Enhancing Customer Experiences with AR

Businesses are using AR to create immersive customer experiences. For example, in retail, customers can use AR to virtually try products before buying. This not only elevates the shopping experience but also provides businesses with a novel way to engage with their customers.

Maybelline

Maybelline New York has innovated in the virtual meeting space by introducing a beauty app, integrated into the Microsoft Teams platform, that employs augmented reality. The app offers a digital makeup bag featuring 12 different looks using Maybelline products. Leveraging ModiFace technology, users can virtually try on and preview these looks, ranging from bold to natural, before appearing in meetings. This fusion of beauty and technology not only enhances virtual interactions but also showcases Maybelline’s products in a novel digital format.

IKEA Kreativ

IKEA was a pioneer in utilising AR technology, with its IKEA Place App launching back in 2017. IKEA Kreativ is their new and improved AR tool, which allows customers to scan and create a 3D replica of any room. Once the scan is complete, existing furniture can be removed and replaced with items from their vast catalogue. All items are to scale, removing the need for measuring and imaginative visualisation, allowing users to design and purchase an entire room from their couch.

AR in Training and Operations

AR technology is proving invaluable in both training and operational contexts. It offers employees the ability to safely simulate complex tasks, enhancing the effectiveness of training and reducing the risk of errors. This is particularly vital in high-stakes sectors like healthcare and manufacturing. Beyond just training, AR solutions streamline the onboarding process, offer ongoing education at scale, and cut down travel costs. They also play a crucial role in minimising mistakes, boosting employee safety, and preserving institutional knowledge, especially in the face of employee turnover. This multifaceted utility of AR makes it a key asset in modern business operations.

FLAIM

The FLAIM Trainer system utilises AR to provide an immersive training experience for firefighters, combining virtual fire environments with real-time physical interfaces. The system features a feedback hose reel and nozzle, as well as a fire proximity heat suit to simulate realistic firefighting scenarios. This setup creates a safe, controlled virtual environment for physical world training, enabling trainers to bring live fire training scenarios into the classroom. The system is designed for quick setup, taking less than 15 minutes, and focuses on training firefighters in risk awareness, hazard anticipation, and fire suppression tactics through a fully immersive learning approach.

AR for Logistic Efficiency

Augmented Reality is revolutionising the logistics industry, introducing a new era of efficiency and accuracy. In logistics, AR’s application ranges from warehouse management to delivery and transportation. By overlaying digital information onto real-world settings, AR assists workers in quickly locating items in warehouses, streamlining the picking and packing processes. This technology also enhances inventory management, allowing for more accurate tracking and easier identification of goods. The integration of AR into logistics not only boosts operational efficiency but also significantly reduces errors, thereby optimising the entire supply chain. The use of AR in logistics exemplifies how emerging technologies can transform traditional business practices, making them more efficient, cost-effective, and adaptable to the demands of the modern market.

Schnellecke Logistics

Schnellecke Logistics has integrated advanced IT and lean methods into their order-picking processes, leveraging augmented reality and other innovative solutions. Their implementation of an augmented reality platform has significantly enhanced their logistics operations globally. This platform includes technologies like xPick for multi-order picking and xMake for assembly, which enable visual, step-by-step instructions for efficient and error-free operations​​. They also employ autonomous conveyor vehicles and robots in their warehouses, further streamlining the order-picking process​​. This comprehensive approach optimises processes, reduces errors, saves resources, and maximises employee potential, ensuring efficiency in a globally competitive environment.

The Strategic Advantage of Implementation

Implementing Augmented Reality (AR) in business offers a strategic advantage by transforming practices and providing tangible ROI. Choosing the right partner for AR integration is critical — one that understands the technology’s potential and aligns it with your business goals. Effective AR integration should go beyond novelty, focusing on enhancing operational efficiency, improving customer engagement, and positively impacting your bottom line. The ideal partnership is essential to fully leverage AR’s capabilities, ensuring practical and value-adding deployment in your business operations.

Overcoming Challenges and Looking Ahead

The future of AR in business is promising, but integrating this technology comes with its own set of challenges, requiring a mix of creativity, technical knowledge, and strategic planning. Businesses should view AR as more than a trend; it’s a tool that can significantly change how they operate and interact with customers. Moving forward with AR means being adaptable and keeping up with technological advancements and changing business requirements. In essence, adopting AR is about ongoing growth and keeping your business at the cutting edge.

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