8 Examples of Augmented Reality For Business
So far, you may have only used augmented reality apps to catch Pokemon, or transform your selfie into a portrait of a rainbow-puking unicorn. But augmented reality (AR) also has a serious side, and many apps are catering to a variety of industries for some practical use. Though advertising seems to be an obvious choice for AR developers, other apps have targeted the health care, education, commercial, and architecture sectors to turn mobile devices into essential training, designing, and educational tools. Let’s take a look at 8 examples of augmented reality for business applications.
Augmented Reality for Training
Founded in 2010, Alberta-based Scope AR has raised $2.12 million to develop a 3-D overlay training app using augmented reality technology. Scope AR can be downloaded on smartphones and tablets, as well as AR glasses, to help front-line employees in technical and engineering fields get the hang of new equipment. Here’s how it works: by looking through their device, they see animated, step-by-step instructions overlaying the equipment they’re using (extra-cool aspect: the overlay is locked on at every angle):
Above you can see the editor which allows you to easily create training scenarios or technical instructions. If employees still have questions, they can connect to industry experts for live guidance immediately, eliminating the work hours and personnel required for one-on-one training. Scope AR does a lot of custom production for specific organizations to fit their equipment, but since they’ve been in the game for a while and have the Remote AR (on-call experts) and WorkLink (animated overlay) products in place, they can add on additional custom branches pretty quickly. So far, a few big names like Toyota, Philips, and even NASA have jumped on board, and are currently using or supporting the product.
Augmented Reality for Online Retail
Founded in 2011, Paris-based startup Augment has taken in $4.8 million for their augmented reality app that helps businesses visualize 3D models in real time… and real space. Augment encourages manufacturers to use their technology to connect to online shoppers, allowing them to “experience” products in their home before buying them. Ever wonder if that recliner would look good in your living room… or if it would even fit well in that corner? Use Augment to see your living room with the chair already in it, and then make your decision.
While retailers can utilize Augment to cut down on buyer uncertainty, designers and architects have also been tapping into the program to display 3D models in AR, instead of just pen on paper. There are plenty of applications for AR in the areas of interior design, architecture, and construction. With no real barriers to entry, we would expect to see loads of apps on the market that all pretty much do the same thing – allow you to visualize a space differently by overlaying it with digital imagery.
Augmented Reality for Education
Founded in 2013, New Zealand startup QuiverVision has raised $1.6 million to create an AR app that brings coloring pages to life. The startup recently expanded the limits of the app with educators in mind, forming a Quiver Education, a new rendition of the app that focuses on more educational content. Here’s how it works: students are given a coloring page within a subject like history, biology, geography, mathematics or more. After coloring the page, they can use their mobile device to watch a 3-D version of their drawing spring to life, with prompts allowing them to identify and learn more about the subject.
For example, a completed drawing of an animal cell becomes an animated 3-D model that students can view from different angles, identifying different parts, and reading about their functions. Quiver Education is available for schools to purchase up-front, with no in-app purchases available. If you’re like most parents, there are times when you’d give just about anything for your kids to just STFU and leave you alone without turning them over to role models like Kim Kardashian and Ariana Grande on the television. QuiverVision just sorted you out.
Augmented Reality for Enterprise
Founded in 2010, Los Angeles-based DAQRI has raised a whopping $273 million to develop an entire AR platform for enterprise use. We touched on DAQRI before briefly in our article about virtual reality in construction when we noted that one of the largest construction companies in the United States is looking at using their AR hardware seen below:
Use cases for this technology platform are similar to what we saw from ScopeAR. Last year, DAQRI made 4 different acquisitions, one of which gave them an interesting technology called “software defined light”. While the educational primer they provide to explain this technology went right over your heads, apparently they can slow down the speed of light to create hologram projections that will work really well in an AR context. They can also do other cool stuff like instantly 3D printing a paper clip. This is a really interesting company that has a lot going on so we may need to go have a chat with them and do a deep dive in a later article.
Augmented Reality for Healthcare
We were surprised to see just how many surgery training simulators have emerged for virtual reality, so it’s only a matter of time before we begin to combine the value of Google Glass for doctors with augmented reality functionality that can be used to help diagnose ailments. Long before all the AR/VR hype started up, this next startup built a medical device that uses AR for vein visualization:
Founded in 2006, New York startup AccuVein has taken in $22.5 million to create a device that helps medical professionals visualize the human circulatory system. AccuVein’s most popular product, the AV400 Vein Viewing System, displays an illuminated map on the surface of a patient’s skin to show where, exactly, their veins are. If you’ve ever had a misplaced IV or an unsuccessful blood draw, you can understand the appeal behind this application. The display works for all ages, skin tones, and body types, and is bringing stress relief to both frequently-poked patients, and less-experienced phlebotomists alike.
Augmented Reality for Vision Assistance
In a previous article we looked at 6 different vision enhancement devices on the market, but none of those used augmented reality like our next company. Formerly known as VA-ST, this new startup out of Oxford is developing augmented reality glasses to help give sight to the partially blind. OxSight’s software recognizes 3D objects and identifies them for the user, helping visually impaired people navigate unusual environments. The program uses its own headset called Smart Specs, which includes a depth camera fused with augmented reality glasses.
The depth sensor and accompanying software can highlight the outlines of people and objects, and simplify their features to make them more recognizable to the wearer. Smart Specs have four different modes that work with shades of black, white, and gray in various details, as well as a color mode that users can use to zoom in on or pause objects. They plan to launch later this year in partnership with Epson.
Augmented Reality for Fire Fighting
Founded in 2015, San Francisco-based startup Qwake Technologies has created an opportunity for AR technology to save lives. Firefighters have been using thermal image technology to navigate smoke-filled environments for a while, but the traditional imaging is slow, and gives workers far more information than they can handle within the stressful environment of a fire fight. Using augmented reality and some rally rad neuroscience research, Quake has created the C-THRU Smoke Diving Helmet for firefighters.
The helmet, complete with a transparent AR display, aims to get fire fighters in and out of dangerous situations up to five times faster by feeding them thermal imaging that is hands free, and highlights details with bright edges, so they have only the information they need to save lives, and get out safely.
Augmented Reality for Advertising
Founded in 2011, British startup Blippar has raised $99 million to develop its augmented reality app, which can be applied to a number of different industries. The Blippar app itself allows users to let the things around them “tell you about themselves” from your cup of coffee to the local landmarks to the bird outside your window. When the app is open, users can simply hold their phone up to pretty much anything, and find out information about the world around them. In our previous article on Blipper titled “Blippar – A $1 Billion Search Company“, we tried the app on a bottle of Heinz ketchup in Hong Kong and it wasn’t even capable of using “optical character recognition to recognize the brand”. After using an image of a Heinz ketchup bottle instead, we thought the whole experience sucked:
In that article, we pointed out that other people are also skeptical about Blippar. Fast forward to a few weeks ago and the Financial Times let loose with yet another article questioning the valuation of Blippar. When the founder lies about attending the London School of Economics, what else is he lying about? Apparently the startup has struggled to attract top-tier technology investors and questions abound as to whether or not (as we pointed out before) anyone actually uses the darn thing.
We’re a bit sad that Blippar isn’t working out because we are dying to have an app on our smartphones that lets us identify the things around us. We’re less interested in the whole “interacting with brands” bullisht and more interested in something we wrote about before called “real world object recognition“. We want an app that lets us easily identify a new type of fruit in Chinatown or a strange looking fish in the Tsukiji fish market. Yes, we’re nerdy like that when it comes to learning about the world around us.
Update 09/18/2018: Blippar has taken in an additional $37 million from a funding round led by Candy Ventures and Qualcomm Ventures in hopes that they can reach profitability in the next 12 months. The company has raised more than $137 million so far. Maybe there is hope after all.
The only thing that’s more certain than death and taxes is that some amazing AR startups exist out there who will be emailing us shortly about how we “missed them” in this article. If that’s you, drop us an email (PR people, read this first) and tell us about the cool business applications you’re addressing with augmented reality that our readers might find interesting.
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