For decades, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) was nothing more than a pipe dream. However, over the last few years, thing have changed dramatically to possibly redefine human-computer interaction.
From healthcare to manufacturing, enterprises are now racing to implement these new technologies into their products, marketing strategies, and workflows to blur the lines between perception and reality to deliver enhanced user experiences (UX).
As these technologies get cheaper and more accessible to the general public, AR and VR have the potential to create new business opportunities, improve customer engagement, and overall UX to help businesses scale.
In fact, research suggests that AR alone will have about a billion users by 2020 and the combined market size of both AR and VR will about $215 billion by 2021.
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So think about it like how e-commerce was a game changer for brick-and-mortar stores who were suddenly opened up to a global marketplace. Now I believe that it’s safe to say that AR and VR will take e-commerce up to the next level to redefine how we shop.
It’s already a fantastic marketing tool where customers can try out the product before ordering them online. For example, Ikea is currently taking advantage of innovative AR technology with their Ikea Place app.
So how can your company leverage AR and VR technologies to scale and enhance UX? Let’s explore some ideas.
1. Deliver Product Experiences
Like Ikea, (almost) anyone can now provide their target audience with product experiences. This means that you can now create a virtual environment where the customer can experience your product by looking at it from all angles, experience how it’s used, and even explore some of its (unexpected) benefits.
This approach actually creates a product context. What does that mean? For example, Lowe’s now allows its customers to see what their products might look like in their homes. In other words, you can see how the product can be applied in a real-world “context.”
With their Holorooms initiative, customers can wear a VR headset and see what a home improvement product would look like outside of a Lowe’s store environment. This enables customers to be (more) sure about their purchases before actually taking the trouble to pay for it and transport it back home.
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The company has also taken it a step further as you can even upload a picture of the interior of your home and virtually redesign and remodel it virtually without spending a dime.
2. Enhance Brand Perception & Value
AR and VR can also be used as a tool to enhance your brand value. While delivering enhanced UX can go a long way to help improve brand perception and value, you can still take it a step further.
For example, the shoe company Toms is known for its positive social impact in third world countries. Their USP has always been the fact that when you buy a pair of Toms for yourself, another pair is sent to someone in need for free!
This idea was brought home with the help of VR as now customers can actually get a first-hand look at how their purchases have an impact on kids who live in developing countries. So if their business model was already enhancing their brand value, this initiative really takes it to another level.
3. Develop Immersive Learning Experiences
Whenever I need to solve a problem more often than not, I turn to the internet which usually leads to Youtube videos. Now, what if we took it to the next level with AR? Wouldn’t that help make DIY projects less overwhelming? Wouldn’t that make putting together furniture from Ikea much easier?
This doesn’t have to be limited to a consumer domain as it can also help technicians across industries rapidly fill in the skills gap by sharing their knowledge in real-time across borders. So while video calling and PDFs may have helped in the past, AR experiences have the potential to blow all past technologies out of the known universe.
This technology has the potential to change how industries like utilities and manufacturing operate by scaling operations with remote support. It even has the potential to bring some experts out of retirement to support workers on the field with their expertise.
This type of interactive instruction and training can help non-technical workers or even customers quickly find solutions to problems and get the job done. In fact, this approach gives new meaning to effectively delivering technical support.
While it’s still early days, it’s important for enterprises to embrace AR and VR technologies today to build a foundation that can help them stay relevant in the near future. By being one of the first to incorporate these technologies into the business model, you can also be the first to identify new businesses opportunities to generate revenue and scale.
While adoption has been slow, the fact that AR and VR headsets are getting cheaper (and more accessible every day) will change the marketplace over the next couple of years. In other words, this is just the beginning of the augmented and virtual reality revolution!