What is Augmented Reality?

The market for augmented reality (AR) technology continues to grow, with projections placing it at $18 billion by 2023.  The last few years have seen AR applications move from gimmicks like Pokemon Go! to supporting critical business functions, spanning several industries. In fact, the use of AR for novelty value is starting to decline, while applications from business growth are just beginning to mature. The powerful connectivity of 5G makes the use of AR far more viable, solving problems around speed and latency.


AR combines the physical environment with digital information in real-time. Using sounds, graphics, and even smell, an image can be superimposed using a camera, mobile device, or headgear into a real-life situation.

In this post, we will discuss how AR is helping businesses, who use it, and the technology’s future.


What are the business benefits of AR?

The most significant benefit of AR in businesses is that it makes use of technology that people use every day; smartphones and tablets. Unlike virtual reality (LINK THIS TO VR ARTICLE) (VR), AR does not require headsets and additional investment on behalf of the consumer. 

Businesses can use AR as a new way of sharing information and interacting with people.

  • Enhancing information

AR users get more details on products, space, services, and materials in real-time. For example, an engineer can get information on maintaining a machine without paper documents, phone calls, or leaving the workspace.


  • Visualization

AR allows the user to visualize and object in an environment digitally, observing what it looks like without it physically being there. The Dulux visualizer app lets you see what paint color looks like in a room before you buy.


  • User experience

Applications like that of Dulux help consumers make a decision anywhere and at any time. They don’t need to visit a store for assistance, adding value to the buying journey. 71% of consumers say they would shop more often if a brand were using AR as they can make more confident buying decisions.

  • Brand Awareness

61% of consumers say they prefer a retailer with AR experiences. A company using AR will get an upper-hand when it comes to gaining visibility in the marketplace. The brand proposition becomes engrained in the mind of the consumer.

  • Competitive Advantage

Last but certainly not least is that AR can create a significant competitive advantage. While the technology is still relatively immature, only a minority uses it, meaning those that do will stand out from the crowd. Early adopters are now able to incrementally improve their offering and remain ahead of the game.


Who uses AR?

There are several industry examples where AR is enhancing customer experiences and business operations.

Real Estate

In real estate, AR can help buyers find a home via a smartphone, regardless of location. Existing real estate tools cannot show a property in its full aesthetic, require time-consuming visits to the property, and rely on the text description. AR solves these three core barriers to homebuying and selling.


From the perspective of contractors, apps such as Magicplan allows the creation of floor plans and job estimates to help furnish the home. Using intuitive AR tools, users can scan the room, find corners, measure spaces, and ascertain with accuracy how they will lay out the room. 


As consumers continue to favor digital experiences over physical ones, AR offers the opportunity to bring the two closer together. For example, the Warby Parker AR app lets users try glasses on digitally from the comfort of their own home. As well as enhancing the experience, customers can try a broader range of products since the retailer cannot stock a full inventory in stores. People can share photos of them trying glasses with friends and make a faster buying decision.


Many retailers are offering similar functionality. With Sephora, you can try makeup virtually, Nike uses AR to help find your perfect shoe size, and Wayfair allows you to see what products will look like in your home before you buy. 


The travel industry can heavily benefit from the ability to place objects in an environment digitally. In the UK, one of the biggest hotel chains, the Hub Hotel from Premier Inn, uses AR to create interactive maps for users.


When using a smartphone or tablet, you can get additional information about a place of interest, serving as a tourist data source.  The hospitality industry can start offering customers an interactive experience on demand.


There are new ways that the healthcare industry is using AR to solve common problems for doctors, nurses, and patients. AccuVein is using AR in handheld scanners that can project a map of peripheral veins on the surface of the skin, guiding medical professionals to the patient’s blood vessels. 

In surgery, similar technology can help surgeons see a 3D map of the patient’s internal organs, veins, tissue, and bones. Doctors can tag critical parts and guide procedures more efficiently.


How AR can help businesses during Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic shows how valuable AR applications can be when people need to stay home during health and safety concerns.

For businesses, AR programs can augment employee training with remote collaboration. For example, BAE Systems leverage AR to create interactive experiences for employees at a tenth of the cost of on-site training. They can train new starters 30% to 40% more efficiently.

AR can remove the dangers associated with the pandemic. If retailers can offer consumers the capability of trying products without visiting stores, workers can still receive training without going to an offer, and conduct transactions without meeting face-to-face, it will restrict the spread of the virus.


The future of AR

Covid-19 will see AR applications grow at an accelerated rate. While industries were tinkering with the technology, it is fair to say that pre-2020, AR was not a priority for most organizations. Given the benefits AR can bring in keeping people safe while still offering interactive experiences, investment is becoming a necessity rather than an option to keep up with the competition.


Disclaimer: The author of this text, Jean Chalopin, is a global business leader with a background encompassing banking, biotech, and entertainment.  Mr. Chalopin is Chairman of Deltec International Group,

The co-author of this text, Robin Trehan, has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, a Master’s in International Business and Finance, and an MBA in Electronic Business.  Mr. Trehan is a Senior VP at Deltec International Group,

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this text are solely the views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Deltec International Group, its subsidiaries, and/or its employees.