September marks the long-awaited release of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, with the iPhone X slated for release in October. What that means for consumers is a choice between getting an iPhone 7 upgrade, or owning the most powerful handheld device on the planet. What it means for the business sector is an opportunity to tap new markets, using the power of Apple’s new AR development platform, ARKit.
Augmented Reality has been around for decades, but neither the hardware or software has been been available to make commercializing AR feasible. Apple just provided both. By designing their newest devices and OS to deliver cutting-edge AR experiences, Apple created what it calls the largest AR platform in the world. By creating the most powerful mobile AR development platform available, they just created an AR ecosystem that will demand adoption.
While Apple’s sudden and audacious dominance of the mobile AR space means bad news for Google, it means great news for consumers and the industries that serve them.
Here is why.
ARKit in a Nutshell
Before we delve into what makes ARKit good for business, we should, perhaps, briefly explain what ARKit is.
In the most basic terms, ARKit is a cutting-edge software package that developers can use to create augmented reality applications for iPhone and iPad devices. Those applications can be as simple as the Pokémon Go game, or as complex as a life-saving medical imaging tool.
The reasons that business should care about ARKit are three-fold:
- More than 1 billion Apple devices are in use around the world.
- Augmented reality will increasingly be a part of the Apple user experience.
- ARKit is the tool that will be used for creating most of those experiences.
Whether a company uses in-house developers or outsources AR product development, ARKit will be the launching pad for the AR-based products and services they develop.
ARKit Applications for Enterprise
In one of previous articles we discussed a few AR applications for business. We won’t rehash those here, except to offer an expanded list of business sectors that are already benefiting from AR technology.
- Education & Training
- Interior Design
- Data Management
- Facilities Maintenance
- Remote Product Support
- Real Estate
- Emergency Services
- Sporting Events
As developers learn the full potential of ARKit, we can expect to see this list expand by orders of magnitude in the months head.
AR Advantages for the Business Sector
In other articles, we have explored in detail how augmented reality has transformed from a gaming novelty to a powerful business tool. Let us now look at why forward-thinking enterprises must integrate AR technology into their offerings, if they are to remain viable in the new era of AR-based products and services.
1. AR Creates Channels to New Markets
A primary barrier to mainstream adoption of AR technology has been development cost. Augmented reality applications that used to take months to develop can be developed in weeks using ARKit. Reduced development costs translates into price points the consumer can accept.
ARKit not only enables companies to reach their markets with affordable products, but will certainly facilitate the creation of products with AR features that will disrupt some markets, while creating new ones.
2. AR Deepens Customer Engagement
Unlike all other technologies, AR provides the consumer with 3D interactive experiences that overlay computer graphics on top of real-world images, and it happens in real time.
Studies suggest that the more engaged a customer is, the more likely they are to make a purchase, or to develop brand loyalty.
3. AR Expands Product Functionality
AR can add an unmatched layer of interactivity to a variety of products and services. With AR, an online store can provide full-color 3D models of products, which the user can rotate and examine in detail. AR can turn a run-of-the-mill marketing email into a 3D model of the item being marketed. Using AR, a mapping service can offer 3D virtual tours of a city — before the user arrives.
While virtual reality and mixed reality also have their place in many enterprises, only AR gives companies the power to insert real-time 3D graphics into the real-world environment.
4. AR Increases Operational Efficiency
Even before ARKit, AR was improving employee performance and efficiency. Take, for example, the warehouse worker who uses an iPad to scan the warehouse for a particular stock item. With AR, the item appears highlighted over the background, reducing the time needed to find the item and prepare it for shipping.
With the built-in AR features of the new iPhones and iOS 11, even more effective applications can be built to speed up processes in manufacturing, logistics, and other industries where time and money are one and the same.
5. AR Disrupts the Competition
Just as the digital camera disrupted the film industry, AR both threatens and promises to similarly impact a wide range of industries previously thought secure. From virtual museums tours to home decorating, AR is already changing the way consumers get the things they want.
That’s good and bad. Good, for companies who step up and engage their AR-hungry customers. Really bad for those who do not. The phrase “missing the market” would certainly apply to those who fail to integrate AR technology into their customer experiences.
6. AR Improves Safety
There is tremendous market potential in AR products that improve safety. A few industries where AR technology can provide a layer of safety between workers and work hazards include mining, emergency services, and industrial maintenance, to name a few.
7. AR Drives Innovation
You need only to look at the gaming industry to see how AR has can spur innovation. As consumers become more accustomed to AR experiences in their daily life, markets will not only tolerate more AR technology, they will demand it. On the other side of the equation, companies that find ways to augment existing offerings with AR (no pun intended) will soon find that AR provides opportunities for new products and services.
Although this list does not represent all of the reasons AR is good for business, the benefits shown should compel any commercial organization to take a good hard look at AR technology.
It is one thing to realize the course a business must take to remain relevant, but it’s another to know how to get there. In the world of disruptive technology, having a technology partner often makes the difference between charting a course to success or losing one’s way.
If adding AR technology to your verticals is part of your plan — as it should be, AppReal-VR invites you to consider us as your technology partner for the road ahead. We develop outsourced market-ready AR apps and platform products for companies around the globe. Our world-class development teams excel at crafting AR solutions based on ARKit. And with six R&D labs across Western Europe, we are positioned to serve you regardless of your location.
When you are ready to tap the $61 billion global AR market, call us for a no-cost consultation.