Augmented Reality


“Augmented Reality will become the new interface between humans and machines”
Michael E. Porter of Harvard
We are progressively moving towards a physical-digital integration, but there is still a challenge that prevents from fully exploiting the benefits of this new reality. While the world that surrounds us is three-dimensional, most of digital data is trapped in a two-dimension format, either through flat screens or tables.

Augmented reality is the key to bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds, as it allows overlaying digital data and images on physical objects and contexts.

Thanks to recent technology developments, AR has come a long way from a science-fiction concept to a science-based reality that is transforming customer experience at any stage of the journey.
Redefining the limits of creating value with Augmented Reality
Nowadays many people are familiar with simple AR entertainment applications, such as Pokémon Go or some social media filters. But the business opportunity for AR goes further than entertainment. Sectors like medicine, industry and military are expected to be the most benefited from this technology. In fact, a PwC report predicts that almost 23.5 million jobs worldwide will be using AR and VR by 2030 – about 27 times more than currently.
To understand the transformative potential of AR, just take all the information that can be generated in the digital world and put it directly into the real, physical context in which it will be applied and this combination will result in an unprecedented boost of human intuitiveness that will break the limits of what’s possible. In other words, AR will redefine the ways to create value in all the industries.
“There will be 2.4 billion of augmented reality users by 2023”
As said before, as AR technology becomes more sophisticated and the cost-saving and business applications expand, the demand and investment in AR will increase.
Go to Use cases

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Engage. Entertain. Learn. Work. Live. AR is changing how people do most of the daily activities. There are dozens of uses of augmented reality. Some of the most illustrative would be the following:

Entertainment – Pokémon Go

Entertainment Pokémon Go

Launched back in 2016 Pokémon Go brought AR to the masses and quickly became viral by combining the real world with favorite Pokémon characters. Pokémon Go is the outstanding definition of augmented reality and a fun one to boot. Many other games have copied the same concept since.

Now Pokémon Go is set to take AR to a new level and turning data collection into a game. A new feature within the game will encourage players to create and upload 3D scans of real-world locations. The 3D scans Pokémon Go players are collecting are intended to create new possibilities in the game as having a system that can recognise 3D environments around the world makes it easier for developers to make shared AR experiences and environments that “exist” even when the user logs off.

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Healthcare – ELEM Biotech

Healthcare ELEM Biotech

Augmented reality is now used in healthcare sector as it provides a sort of X-ray vision that not only lets physicians delve into the human body without the need for dissecting cadavers or watching live operations but also has applications during highly delicate surgeries where it can help reduce the need for more traditional invasive cameras and probes.
A really innovative example of AR applications is ELEM Biotech is the biomedical simulation company based in Barcelona that generates a sophisticated and powerful simulation of virtual humans to explore small changes in individuals’ lifestyle and how they affect health, aging and quality of life.
Augmented Reality in the healthcare sector is taking off and it is expected to grow at 38.38% annually during the 2019-2026 period, as per report.

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Engineering – Digital Twins

Engineering Digital Twins

A digital twin is a virtual model of a process, product or service. When a company builds a digital replica of its products, the environments in which they operate and the systems that produce them, it can predict virtually everything that will happen in the physical world. For engineers, digital twins are very useful because, having a detailed history of the previous model, they can correct errors and create new, more reliable versions.

AR has profound implications in human productivity. Gartner predicts that by 2021, half of major industrial companies will use digital twins, which will translate into a 10% improvement in their efficiency.

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Education – GeoGebra

Education GeoGebra

Augmented reality is progressively gaining share in children’s education to improve declining student’s engagement. Teachers and other educators are starting to introduce augmented reality as a support for a better explanation of complex and abstract concepts. From astrophysics to music lessons, AR can provide a fun and immersive learning experience for kids of all ages.

GeoGebra is an advanced tool that helps make geometry simpler! With its help, users can create arbitrary math object on any surface and review them from different angles. This tool offers an engaging and interactive way to learn the shapes and basic geometry principles.

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Retail – Virtual Try On

Retail Virtual Try On

AR has revealed itself as a very powerful way to interact with customers, through their mobile devices, building an enriching digital-based experience. Therefore, a wide variety of retailers and brands, such as Converse (the pioneer), IKEA, Nike, Gucci, Sephora, Volkswagen, LEGO,… have AR features to bring the relationship with their customers further beyond creating awareness, being able to measure ROI based on improved sales performance with very positive results.

Although there are many other applications for AR, most widespread uses of AR in retail, from the customer perspective, are:

  • virtually trying on 3D products (either through smartphone apps or virtual mirrors),
  • looking at 3D products at home and,
  • gathering product-related info while in-store.

Virtual try on, such as Gucci’s AR-based sneaker try-on, provides a funny experience to those hyperconnected generations and the ability to share virtual looks with friends and social media is perfect to close the loop of awareness. But, behind this “funny experience”, there is a lot of info that can be extracted from customers’ interaction with this feature, that can help improving customer knowledge, behavior and her preferences and therefore use it for short term product push initiatives as well as for long term collection planning, just to cite two value levers.

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Key questions for companies for adopting AR capabilities within its value creation roadmap

There are some questions to be addressed when building your AR strategy

1. Which are the customer needs and how AR is going to solve them?

Being Customer-centric must be a corporate mission and AR can help delivering customer-first experiences that really resonate and create lasting business value.

Therefore, defining proper customer profiles and journeys and linking them to AR are the first steps to understand the potential of this technology to improve either engagement or productivity.
AR makes humans smart and connected. However, AR will only take off universally when companies think about it as the transformative enabler to define unprecedented customer, employee or supplier journeys that result in improved productivity, efficiency or engagement in a profitable way.

2. What type of reality will this solution utilize?

There are three types of reality that can be created to meet customer needs:

  • Augmented: Bringing digital information into physical reality. Mostly used for real-time decision making.
  • Virtual: Replacing physical reality with a simulated context. Mostly used for training purposes.
  • Assisted: Providing helpful or convenient information relative to a physical reality but not mapped to it. Mostly used to provide extended help or guidance.

3. What are the key functionalities that customers will require?

Giving an answer to each need must need a different set of features, which can be classified into the following ones:

  • Visualize: Make information visually available at the right place at the right time.
  • Instruct: Provide step by step tasks to execute an activity.
  • Guide: Remotely provide smart instructions by experts.
  • Interact: Tell machines to do specific actions using either voice or movements.
  • Sense: Give or collect info of human activity.
  • Recognize: Apply computer vision to identify places or pieces.
  • Program: See, modify or test a program.

4. What human senses will you stimulate?

Although AR is generally linked to visual sense, sound and simulative touch are also becoming mainstream in AR experiences. According to an Ericsson research, By 2030, technological advances will move humans from a screen-based world to full sense-based world.

5. Which will be the front-end supporting devices?

AR comes in different forms. Nowadays, for almost any B2C interaction, the key device is the smartphone, although there are other devices such as car windshields for heads up interactions or tablets. In industrial environments, other hardware such as projectors of head mounted devices, must be considered when defining a proper AR experience.

6. Should the company make AR design and deployment a core strength, or will outsourcing or partnering be sufficient?

In a fast-paced technology world, where product life cycles have been extremely shortened, having a clear point on how the IT part will be delivered becomes a key success factor for sustainable ROI.

Deciding whether a proprietary, IOS, Android, Windows UWP, Cross-platform or Multi-platform solution is the optimal approach is not enough to close this ask. Finding the right development partners and evolution & sustainability processes is also something to be considered.

7. How are we going to monetize the AR? What’s the value in improving the customer experience?

Finally, deciding the ROI and ROX (Return On eXperience) of the AR initiative is mandatory to size the sustainable value delivered. A mix of financial and customer experience-related KPI’s must be taken into consideration to create the complete view of the initiative.

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