The world is charging forward in the field of augmented reality (AR). An array of increasingly sophisticated and powerful augmented reality apps are hitting the market from education and gaming to e-commerce and marketing.
In fact, it’s predicted that 1 billion people will be using augmented technology by 2020. The recent expansion of augmented reality apps can be attributed to ARKit and ARCore — two robust AR app development tools released by Apple and Google respectively in 2017.
After a quick definition, let’s take a look at the most innovative augmented reality apps available today.
Feeling confused about augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. To help clarify:
Virtual Reality uses a VR headset to replace the real world with a 360° simulated one. The technology aims to create an entirely immersive experience where users can manipulate objects and perform movements within a three-dimensional, computer-generated environment so realistic it is perceived as real by the user.
Augmented Reality, on the other hand, superimposes images, data, and sound onto the existing environment. You can think of it as a fusion between the real world and the digital world.
Well-known examples of augmented reality include Zombies, Run! and Pokémon Go!, which both use digital overlay to show users zombies/Pokémon within their immediate environment.
You might have even used augmented reality on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat without even realizing it. Each of these social media platforms has integrated AR technology to offer digital “masks” that allow you to take selfies wearing superimposed bunny ears, glasses, wigs, makeup and more.
Ever purchased a piece of furniture only to discover once it’s delivered that it just doesn’t work in the space? Or spent the entire day painting a room and then realized the shade looks plane hideous? Many savvy homeware retailers are solving your renovation woes with augmented reality. For instance, the IKEA Place app allows users to ‘place’ three-dimensional and true-to-scale models of IKEA products within their home providing an accurate indication of the furniture’s color, size, design, and functionality.
When it comes to finding color inspiration for your next paint job, the Dulux Visualiser app has you covered. Thanks to augmented reality, the app allows you to pick a color from anywhere and then project that shade onto your walls. You can save videos and photos for later use and select multiple color schemes.
Augmented reality has opened the doors to a new form of digital marketing. One of the most successful approaches for increasing brand awareness has combined AR with social media by offering branded filters and masks on Snapchat. Another very impressive use was Pepsi’s AR add in a London bus stop, which turned the bus shelter’s wall into a fake window with a flying saucer, aliens, and a loose tiger.
But when business and AR technology combine, it isn’t only about marketing. It’s also about enhancing the shopping experience. Sephora, the cosmetic giant, knows that half the fun of shopping is trying on different looks. That’s why they developed their Virtual Artist app, which allows users to sample different lipsticks, eyeshadows, fake lashes and more without the hassle of wiping off the makeup. The app is not only a compelling way to drive sales, but also enhance the shopping experience. In fact, 40% of consumers say they’d be willing to pay more for a product they can experience through augmented reality.
Augmented reality is making big waves within the educational sector. It’s not only altering the location and timing of when we study but also introducing new and powerful ways of learning.
The AstroReality App, for instance, allows students to discover the solar system in an entirely new and exciting way. Working in combination with three-dimensional models of our planets and moons, the app takes users on an educational journey by superimposing NASA images and knowledge on each model. You can watch weather patterns shift over Earth, explore every crater on the far side of the Moon, and ask questions about the mysterious Red Planet.
Augmented reality apps in the classroom are an effective way to capture students attention, differentiate learning, and explain abstract concepts. And it’s not just school, its college too. A study involving marketing students found that 87% of students more likely to attend class and 72% of them more likely to participate when new technologies are integrated into lessons.
Augmented reality has the potential to revolutionize healthcare from enabling medical students to train for surgery in AR to helping patients see how prescription drugs work within the body. Nurses can even find veins faster with AccuVein, a handheld scanner that projects the veins over the patient’s arm.
But AR in healthcare isn’t just for the professionals. There’s plenty of promising AR apps to help everyday folk improve their health too. For starters, AED4EU could one day save your life by helping first aid providers find the closest defibrillator. Have you ever found yourself struggling to describe your symptoms to a doctor? AR apps, like EyeDecide, enable patients to experience the symptoms of certain conditions in augmented reality, helping them to accurately identify and understand their actual symptoms.
Augmented reality is one of the most promising digital technologies with a fascinating array of real-world applications. It’s set to pivot the way we treat patients, teach students, choose products, and this is just the beginning!
Learn more about the solar system with AstroReality’s Solar System Ultimate Set. Discover more about Planet EARTH, or walk take a trip to the far side of the moon with LUNAR. Each unique model features AR technology and opens a new world of learning opportunity.