Obviously, we think that Augmented Reality is the future and by now, this technology has entered the mass market quite well. The first reaction to seeing an AR application for the first time is always amazement and yet, we’re often asked whether companies can really benefit from Augmented Reality apps. The short answer is, “Yes, definitely!” and the longer answer can be found in the following 5 use cases for Augmented Reality in general and businesses in particular.
The following use cases range from one-off marketing campaigns that generate some buzz to complex applications which can be useful in the everyday work processes of a company. If you’re thinking about using Augmented Reality in your company, you don’t have to stick to any one use case, of course. Most of them can be combined very easily. And now, before I go into detail, you can quickly read up on the basics of AR if needed or take a look at how it’s different from Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality. Ready? Then let’s go.
Create Interactive Print
Whether it’s flyers, greeting cards or the annual company report, every printed product gets more exciting with Augmented Reality. Pictures suddenly come to life, statistics are building themselves up before your eyes and the products in a catalogue can be viewed in 3D from any angle.
Of course, these kinds of things are pretty simple use cases and more suited for marketing campaigns and gimmicks. But that’s exactly why they are perfect anywhere you want to create a lot of attention very quickly. Using Augmented Reality in a printed catalogue on the other hand, is very useful for both companies and customers. It creates publicity and an innovative image for your company respectively. And on top of that, it provides a possibility for customers to virtually interact with your products. One such example is the app we created for Hartl Haus.
If you’re now wondering „how much that’s gonna cost“ I can assure you, it’s not an enormous amount. Moreover, if you’re interested in maybe implementing more than one of these examples, you can actually save some money down the line, because multiple use cases can be combined in one app. If you’d like to see what something like this might look like, you can download our own CodeFlügel App.
Connect printed catalogues to online shops
Obviously, displaying products in 3D in a catalogue is not everything Augmented Reality can do. If you have a catalogue as well as an online shop, you can easily connect the two channels. Why might that be helpful? Because in terms of the customer journey, there is a huge gap between the printed catalogue and the web shop – no matter where I view the shop, be it on the sofa with my smartphone or on the PC at my desk. The entire sale hinges on the motivation of the users to manually search for the products they like in the online shop. And the way there is paved with many obstacles and distractions, or have you never been side tracked by an unexpected result in your Google search, a message on Facebook or a cute cat video?
With an Augmented Reality catalogue everything instantly runs much smoother. Customers scan the page, look at the product in 3D, configure it according to their own preferences and, at the click of a button, it lands in their online basket waiting to be bought. Then they can be as distracted as they like, the product will still be there when they’ve made their way to the shop.
On top of that, catalogues become highly individualizable with Augmented Reality. Aside from being able to fit in additional info that didn’t make the cut for the print version, it lets you assign dynamic prices specific customer groups or at certain points in time. This works because the app knows when and by what kind of customer (logged in or guest user, company or individual, …) it is currently being used. In theory, you could even print a product catalogue that doesn’t contain any prices at all and which remains valid for long periods of time, because the currently valid price can only be displayed via the corresponding Augmented Reality app. How well that would be received in practice right now, is a point for speculation, though. 😉
If you’re interested in further information on this particular use case, have a look at this article.
Create interactive booths, showrooms and experiences
Exhibitions and Augmented Reality go together perfectly. Particularly at specialized trade shows, multiple exhibitors often present a very similar product. Of course, all of them have their own pros and cons, but in order to show these, you need the attention of the customers – and that’s not always easy to come by. However, if your company’s products are visualized in 3D and with fancy animations and all of that on a big screen, you will definitely get some curious glances.
The best part about Augmented Reality is that it is not only a tool for generating attention. Such an app also supports the exhibitor in presenting their products perfectly. Many things are too big to be exhibited at a booth or the transport would blow up the budget. Using Augmented Reality, you can easily present your product at the fair during a conversation with the customer and, for instance, show its various movements or processes through animations. You can even hide the outer cover e.g. a machine and showing its inner workings – and why that makes your product better than others, of course.
These advantages aren’t limited to exhibitions, of course. You can use Augmented Reality pretty much in the same way to equip showrooms, museums, innovation centers or similar things with interesting and interactive experiences. Whichever device you’re using, be it a smartphone, a tablet or a Hololens: the big advantage of Augmented Reality is that it can be used pretty much anywhere with little effort required – also outdoors, on a festival ground or in the city center. An example for the latter can be seen in the following video for an Australian marketing campaign, for which we produced an Augmented Reality App in cooperation with Mindconsole.
Provide life-sized 3D models for your customers
When you present your product in 3D in various marketing materials, in a catalogue or at a fair, it might also be cool to let your customers take them home. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a giveaway with a miniature model. You can also use Augmented Reality to view life-sized 3D models of things in the environments they’re supposed to be placed – whether you want to see how a furniture item would look in your living room or how a machine would fit into the factory work floor.
And honestly, there are many products where it’s hard for almost anyone to imagine how well they might go with their future surroundings. Take awnings, blinds or window treatments for example – fabric and material samples are nice and everything, but you would still ideally want to see them at your home before buying them. However, mounting an entire awning to your wall just so you can make a decision (entirely for free, of course) is probably not a sales model many companies will readily agree to. Again, Augmented Reality can save the day in this situation, by doing just the thing – placing the products in your own home, but entirely digitally. With the App we created for LEHA, you can try this yourself.
This kind of Augmented Reality app is also useful for direct sales, because presenting big bulky and hard to transport products (like blinds, tile stoves, swimming pools,…) in person is no longer an issue.
Plan, build and maintain with Augmented Reality
An altogether different approach to using Augmented Reality can be taken in the industrial sector, as well as the real estate and building industries in particular. Of course, you can also use the technology to place a virtual house in a field or 3D models of machines in a factory. However, the potential of Augmented Reality in this sector is much greater, which means that the technology will be used to a much greater extent in the future.
The use of Augmented, Mixed and Virtual Reality will create a whole new way of cooperating in the planning and construction of new buildings and complex products. Wouldn’t it be nice if, during a particularly constructive meeting, you could directly make the planned adaptations to an existing digital 3D model which is visible to everyone in the middle of the conference table or even in another part of the world? Solutions like this are feasible even now, but the logistics involved will be drastically reduced with the huge progress currently being made in the Augmented Reality technology, fuelled by the decision to directly implement it into the big players’ Apple’s and Google’s operating systems.
Also the maintenance of machines or entire plants could be drastically simplified by Augmented Reality. The service technician can just visit the customer and put on his trusty Hololens, where he will see the damaged area and information on how to fix it. They don’t need any more than that, all relevant information is projected directly onto the goggles. The advantages of this are pretty obvious: by directly highlighting the error, you can save valuable time in not having to look for it.
Further, AR and VR can play an important role in training new employees. With AR/VR-training, certain work processes can be tried virtually, so they can be more easily and effectively put into practise later. Therefore, using these technologies has the potential of making training processes more time- and cost-effective.
As you can see, Augmented Reality has become a pretty versatile technology these days. The only thing that’s certain is that you do need an app for that. Besides that, there are many possibilities to approach this subject. Which use case is the best one for you? If you’re unsure, you might find the answer in one of our technology workshops 😉