From science-fiction to a science-based reality, Augmented Reality (AR) has come a long way in recent years. Until recently, high costs meant designers could only dream of using AR. We are now seeing it appear everywhere, even on our mobile phones.
AR works by adding information to the users current environment, with the intention of making an activity or experience more meaningful. AR can be used to view virtually rendered objects in the real world using a smartphone or AR glasses.
The experience or AR kicked off with Google Glass and Pokemon Go. Despite the game causing worldwide stupidity, it paved the way for AR and showed us how much potential this technology had for all sorts of digital products.
The Retail Industry
We are now beginning to see augmented reality appear more and more within the fashion sector, whereby customers shopping online have the option to ‘try before you buy’. For example, Ray-ban now has a virtual try-on feature. Reports suggest that 72% of AR users have made unplanned purchases because of the AR influence.
Not only is AR beneficial for online purchases, it could be a major catalyst for improving the performance of retail stores. The introduction of this technology will help to enhance people’s shopping experience, bridging the gap between online and in-store shopping. For example, the use of AR contacts will help direct users to specific locations of a shop, where they will be able to see customer reviews, available sizes, colour, styles etc.
Outside of retail, we can see that AR is being introduced into many different sectors – a major example being the healthcare industry, which will see an investment of $5.1 billion in AR by 2025. Already, AR is being used to improve a range of medical services, from training and education, to improving sight and determining whether patients are fit for procedures.
As designers, we have to take great notice of AR, it’s not just changing the products that we create, but it’s also changing the tools that we use to design these products. By blending the virtual with the real, the design tools we use will become a lot more practical. AR experiences will affect both the software and the visual target. For example, if you were to design a tractor, AR will allow the designer to sit virtually within the design that they are creating, enabling them to visualise their design assumptions and prototypes in a more lifelike and meaningful way.
A more practical example is Ford, who have started to equip their automobile design teams with HoloLens, an augmented reality technology rolled out by Microsoft. The technology allows designers to view 3-D digital vehicle elements overlaid onto clay models of cars, enabling them to quickly evaluate and alter new car designs.
At iNQ Digital, we create beautiful digital products that are a joy to use. Learn more about our design process here