Augmented reality is getting its moment in the sun thanks to Pokemon Go. But the technology’s impact will soon be far greater than you think.
You’ve seen the crowds of people standing in parks staring at their phones or swiping a screen while walking into traffic. Pokemon Go has taken an unsuspecting world by storm.
Just 45 days after launch, millions are obsessed with the augmented reality (AR) app, which displays digital creatures over the physical world. Today, the app has about 30 million daily active users worldwide, just a month and a half after its release.
But everyone is completely missing the real story.
The game’s AR is novel and fun. The real uses for augmented reality, however, will melt your face off—and change the world in the process. Not everyone is using AR to display cute creatures on the counter of your local coffee shop; some companies are using it to save lives and disrupt industries.
If you’re looking to invest, build a business or profit from future tech trends, then you need to be paying attention to AR.
And it’s happening sooner than you think. According to Goldman Sachs, augmented reality and virtual reality will be a $35 billion annual market by 2025. If you’re looking to invest, build a business or profit from future tech trends, then you need to be paying attention to AR.
Here are three key ways that AR is about to rock our world.
1. Vastly Improve Customer Service and Give Customers The Best Experience of Their Lives
Forward-thinking brands are adopting AR to massively improve customer service. According to TELUS International, AR firm Zugara has created a digital dressing room that enables retail customers to virtually swap pieces of their outfit. Beauty company Sephora offers an app to virtually test different cosmetics.
This is only the beginning says Ajay Shah, co-founder and head of business development at Dotty Digital, a startup that develops interlocking AR platforms used by enterprise companies to view and collaborate on 3D models, as well as augment their businesses with RFID-powered solutions across mobile and wearables.
“Customer service today is on the Blockbuster model,” he says. “Most people hate it and just wish it worked easier. Large customer service departments need to be adopting AR technology to avoid being Netflixed by nimbler competitors.”
For instance, Dotty Digital just helped a customer service call center use its platform to train and support agents. The agents call up 3D models of hardware to diagnose problems and find solutions. Eventually, the technology may remove the need for customer service agents altogether: when something breaks, you’ll point your phone at it for the exact instructions to fix it.
2. Know Exactly Where Your Food Came From
Currently, most food you buy at a grocery store has a nutrition label and a manufacturer’s label. Despite farm-to-table and food sourceability trends, we’re still woefully uninformed about the actual origins and contents of what we put in our bodies.
Augmented reality is changing this.
Imagine scanning a QR code or RFID chip attached to a box of cereal, or a label affixed to an avocado; your phone or wearable device displays exactly what types of ingredients the food contains and where they came from. You can even track the temperatures the food traveled through to ensure it remained in controlled climates, if required. Basically, all of the information consumers actually need to make informed decisions about their health.
This is happening in a very limited form now: a bill just passed the House and Senate to require QR codes on genetically modified food. The codes link to websites that provide far more information about a product than a simple “GMO” label.
3. Save Lives
That’s not hyperbole: augmented reality is about to save lives in hospitals around the world, notably those in less-developed countries. Using a collaborative AR environment, a doctor in New York can train a doctor in the Congo to perform life-saving procedures. The doctor in New York can overlay an augmented reality representation of a medical device over the Congolese doctor’s patient on-screen. The Congolese doctor can then mimic New York’s movements with the actual patient, while being talked through the entire procedure.
If that sounds like science fiction, consider this: Dotty Digital already has a patent for this type of AR collaboration. “By far the best thing you can do to save lives during medical procedures in countries without the expertise in a particular procedure is to mimic that procedure right over the patient using AR,” Shah says.
AR is coming. And Pokemon Go set the world stage.
Video from just a few days ago showing thousands of people in Taipei, Taiwan rushing to catch a Snorlax Pokemon using Pokemon Go.