With COVID-19 accelerating interest in AR and VR-related technologies, healthcare, events, sports, travel and tourism, and housing could all benefit.
Augmented reality has been making waves in a number of industries including healthcare, events, and sports. It’s been pivotal in aiding remote experts during COVID-19, for example, allowing them to view the physical world in video and annotate objects during video calls.
But it’s post COVID when AR is expected to really take off. Pre-COVID AR saw record growth in 2019 and Global Market Insights estimated that the AR market would jump past $50 billion by 2024.
But, with the pandemic accelerating interest in augmented and virtual-related technologies, this figure might have underestimated the potential growth.
So, let’s take a look at five sectors that could benefit from AR post COVID.
The use of augmented reality within the healthcare sector has already been making headlines this year, with doctors using Microsoft HoloLens headsets to help care for COVID-19 patients.
But AR in the health sector is also experiencing a wider appeal. By entering MRI data and CT scans into an AR headset, surgeons are able to precisely study patients’ anatomy before they even go into surgery.
Further demonstrating the use of augmented reality in the operating theatre, BBC News recently ran a report on the development of a hologram that visualizes a patient’s heart.
Overall, the market for virtual reality and AR in the healthcare sector was estimated to be around $2.14 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach $11.14 billion by 2025.
Simply put, AR in the healthcare sector will be revolutionary, from aiding surgeons in the operating theatre to teaching children about the human body.
With event marketers struggling to find new ways to draw attendees’ attention to their stands, AR can create new engaging ways for people to interact with brands. In 2018 alone, 87% of event planners arranged to use some sort of AR.
While AR in previous years has tended to coincide and complement an existing physical event – like interactive booths at conferences – now, AR can replace them.
Pot Noodle recently recreated their careers fair for students in WebAR experience viewable through smartphones, after the coronavirus canceled what was going to be a traditional physical event.
While virtual events might sound like a gimmick on the face of it, with far greater audience reach for attendees, greater cost efficiency, and higher (and more measurable) engagement rates through polling and virtual Q&A sessions, they don’t need to be seen only as a replacement.
Augmented reality is rapidly gaining momentum in the sports world, from improvements to broadcasting to enhancing fan experiences. With billions now having access to AR-enabled smartphones, augmented reality apps that integrate with Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram can reach a vast audience.
AR has also been making its way into the sports gaming sector. iGYM, which was created by a team of researchers in the US, has created a projection-based AR sports game which allows children of varying abilities to play with each other in a fair environment. This innovative system works by utilizing an overhead projector to create an AR court which mimics a football field.
Overall, AR designers could truly transform the world of sports by creating insightful, engaging experiences in the realms of broadcasting, gaming, training, retail, and more.
4. Travel and Tourism
Although the travel and tourism industry has taken a direct hit from COVID-19, technology innovations like augmented reality can help the sector bounce back by providing an incredible, immersive experience.
While traveling abroad may still initially be tricky even post COVID, ‘staycations’ are becoming more popular. Exploration apps, like ViewRanger’s Skyline, make adventuring across beautiful landscapes even more interactive with the user’s phone camera recognizing the names of mountains, hills, and rivers, as well as showing the best walking and climbing routes (particularly good for all the newcomers!).
Restaurants post COVID may also need to find new ways of interacting with customers, with the possibility that physical contact of menus and staff engagement may need to be limited. While customers ordering their food choice through an app is nothing new, using AR to showcase how dished plates will look along with hotspots of nutritional information is really appealing.
Pizza Hut previously cooked up an engaging digital experience not only with augmented reality food examples but also fun quizzes to entertain children and add value to the eating experience.
AR technology is perfectly positioned to serve the property market. Onirix Studio, a scalable AR platform, allows people to create their own AR experiences, as well as provide custom-made solutions with the help of their creative team.
Their geolocation-based AR solution, Onirix Places innovatively combines two types of technologies, geospatial positioning (e.g. Google maps) and markerless AR, allowing estate agents to advertise properties in a unique way.
But it’s not just estate agents who can benefit from cutting-edge AR solutions. Potential buyers can visualize a property before physically needing to visit it. Using the unique attributes of AR, a user can instantly get a feel for a property’s interior with a virtual tour and can even change the designs for extra inspiration.
Using Boundaries to Unlock Imagination
So often in life, limitations force people to get creative. When we finally get to be in a post-COVID world, some of those limits may still be in force, whether it’s lack of physical contact or restricted travel – but these new ‘rules’ can serve just as challenges for brands to come up with new and innovative ways to engage with customers.
The good news is that AR technology is already on our doorstep – we just need to let it in (unless we’re still in a lockdown, of course!).