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Top Industries Adopting AR in 2021

2021 is likely to become known as the year when it all changed. The advent of mass-produced and cheap AR headsets – of the level that VR currently enjoys – and the means to easily create apps is bringing the technology to mainstream areas of business and entertainment. There are already a number of industries investing in AR, with more to follow, so where are we likely to see the biggest take-ups of the technology over the next year?

Manufacturing. Both AR and VR have a huge potential in manufacturing and logistics areas. Aside from its design potential – anyone who has used the Gravity Sketch VR app will know just how powerful this is at the design function – AR is an excellent tool which can use holographic images and representations to improve productivity and performance. The ability to show highly detailed 3D images and virtual assemblies is a great way to train out new ways of working and how different machines on the shop-floor work. In the assembly area, AR can be used as a visual aid to the right way to construct even highly complex assemblies. There are so many areas of Engineering and Manufacture that VR can assist with, and more engineers are beginning to realise it.

Healthcare. The ability to pull up and view virtual patient records is just one of the many ways that AR could be used in healthcare, but a more exciting concept is as a partner device to allow a healthcare professional with greater experience to assist a younger or less experienced worker. This is an area where overlaid images and 3D models can be of huge assistance and ensure that medical mistakes can be almost completely removed. This concept can also extend to patient consultations too. Termed telemedicine, what was originally delivered as telephone interactions between a doctor and a patient has developed into video calling, but is now heading towards augmented consultations where the doctor can be far more graphic in their descriptions and care pathways. In the same way healthcare professionals can easily teach patients how to perform self-care activities using overlays and graphics.

Construction and Property Sales. This is an area where highly detailed 3D models will become a major driver for AR systems. These are easy to create in even lower-end computer aided design (CAD) packages and with lifelike rendering of almost any material, making life-like structures that can be easily negotiated virtually, allowing prospective buyers to inspect a property from the comfort of their own homes, or even the coffee shop if they choose. And home or office improvements become easy to visualise too with enhanced models, the effects of removing a wall, or adding new features, as well as highlighting where wall-routed services such as water and electric spurs are to prevent unintentional interference of these. Construction will benefit from the ability to review highly detailed models at the planning application stage and will be able to show a virtual model of the completed building in high detail, and with zoom features, it is possible to zero in on any particular part for closer inspection.

Education and Training. This is an obvious win for systems like AR where a tutor or trainer can introduce concepts or reinforce those already delivered in a much more engaging and inclusive delivery. With a huge range of educational apps and online meeting rooms available, AR is ideal for education. But it isn’t just a school or college environment that can benefit from this kind of technology, and an increasing number of businesses are embracing AR as a credible means of delivering training content. Using AR overlays, even the most complex subjects can be taught out and a tutor can watch a student carry out a virtual task and comment.

But there is also automotive retail, customer service and e-commerce areas that will see an increasing benefit from the AR system over this year and into the future. Outside of the industries discussed, the potential for AR and VR keeps growing in virtually every sector of business and business leaders are realising that AR doesn’t just belong in the entertainment and computer gaming sectors. It really is only a matter of time before this kind of technology becomes mainstream and familiar to all of us.