Apple has been developing AR glasses for years, now it is expected to introduce them as soon as 2020 — what use will they be, and how may they transform your enterprise?

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says these things will usher in “next-generation revolutionary UI”, likely referring to prevailing wisdom that says sophisticated VR experiences will be controlled by a combination of speech, gesture, movement and touch-based commands. Motion sensors will be activated by what you do with your arms, for example.

There are already some good examples that help illustrate how we might use these systems in the real world. Here are three:

Training and education

In his book, ‘Rewiring Education’, Apple’s long-time VP education, John Couch, states that he believes AR may become: “One of the most transformative educational technologies to ever exist.”

He doesn’t see this in isolation, either, pointing out how AR can be used alongside cutting-edge technologies such as machine intelligence, 3D printing or even holographics’ to create deeply immersive learning experiences in which learners can engage with concepts in a near-physical way.

When it comes to training resources, you won’t just be attempting to understand ideas from a book but will also be exposed to them in virtual space, where you’ll be able to break things to understand them more. This should translate into opportunities to boost employee retention by creating more personalised training and on-boarding experiences.

Planning an exhibition? Attempting to build homes? Attempting to rescue victims in disaster situations? AR will help.

We see signals of this already at museums, art galleries and elsewhere, but perhaps one of the best illustrations is at Apple Park, where Apple has create an AR-augmented exhibition that shows and describes how its headquarters are made.

Architects spend a great deal of time and money creating 3D models of spaces they wish to build, with AR they can create virtual buildings – and because VR glasses will enable users to explore those buildings, they may even find they identify problems more accurately than before.

Product designers can use these technologies to quickly prototype new product designs (Nike already does this) – add 3D printing to the mix and AR/VR designs swiftly become real-world objects. Finally, rescue workers (or their remote helpers) can use these technologies to explore spaces in the virtual world, making the journey a little less hazardous in the real world.

Maintenance

Porsche has introduced an AR-based technical services solution designed to help car dealers deliver more effective help to customers.

Its ‘Tech Live Look’ system lets engineers at the dealership don a pair of AR glasses and connect to the car company’s crack tech support team, who can then see what the engineer sees and provide effective advice. The company thinks this makes servicing tasks 40 percent faster.

Industries everywhere are now exploring ways to use VR within training, product support and technical support.

The numbers game

A recent Cuseum study claims 90 percent of museum visitors like mobile technologies because they make it easier to access and understand information. Accenture in 2018 observed that AR tools that help visitors learn more about places they go to are popular. That report also saw two thirds of consumers say they wanted to use the tech to learn new skills, to access 3D manuals, and for various kinds of virtual shopping experiences.

There are lots of implications beyond these.

Healthcare, retail, engineering, live events, multimedia entertainment — real estate is already working with these technologies. AR city guides, or even virtual tourism (eg. Discovery Channel, MetaVRse, YouVisit) and enhanced delivery of visitor attractions (VisitAR).

Enterprises must think deeply about the scale of this. Now sourcing estimates AR will be delivering these kinds of numbers by 2025:

  • AR video games: $1.16b
  • Healthcare: $5.1b
  • Engineering: $4.7b
  • Entertainment: $4.1b
  • Home and real estate: $2.6b

VR/AR industry association the VRARA reckons the value of the AR industry will hit $21 billion this year, growing at 133 percent per year after that. However, as cutting-edge VR tools (such as Apple’s glasses) hit the market, this will rise and the usage case (for both B2B and B2C) will expand.

What should you do?

It makes sense for enterprises to begin to set aside R&D spend for small-scale development of AR experiences that may support their existing business.

It also makes sense to consider how AR in conjunction with data analytics, machine intelligence and predictive intelligence may introduce new business opportunities, particularly given Apple’s long-proven capacity to take complex technologies and make them mainstream.

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