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Augmented Reality Use Cases

May 25, 2018

Imagine going into a store, tacking your steps on a visual display map on your phone and seeing bright red stars over everything you’ve bought in the store over two weeks ago and thus might need again.  Or strolling through Paris and pointing your phone at a building and getting a visual history of it from the 17th century to the present, then turning around and pointing at an insect on a flower and getting the names of both and maybe some animation depicting how they pollinate.

These are commonly dreamed up implementations of augmented reality (AR) for consumers.  They’re fun, interesting and easy to understand, but they’re probably not the first area where AR is going to flourish and come into its own.

According to our recent Evans Data Global Development survey, software developers who are actively creating AR applications today are most commonly targeting industrial design for their apps.  Almost a quarter of the world’s software developers claim to be kicking the AR tires, trying out AR in projects, experimenting, or actually working on functional apps.  Of those, 17%, the largest group, are targeting industrial design.

The survey, conducted in over 100 countries and in six different languages, showed that augmented reality functionality within apps is being adopted particularly strongly in emerging market regions in APAC and Latin America, but it was the EMEA region where the strength of industrial design was most clear.

But what does that mean?  Industrial design today is done with CAD programs, drawings, applied mathematics, electrical and mechanical engineering tools, models, and so on.  For each widget there is a lot of time and resources required as well as diverse steps and tools.  But imagine AR applied to industrial design.

This would mean a product design environment where your design exists as a 3D object, projected virtually in the space before you – sort of like a hologram.  This 3D image is constantly fed information from the physical world as well as the virtual one, so your virtual product behaves just as it would if it actually existed.  It would simplify and speed product design as we’ve never known it.  New and better products would be able to come to market in a fraction of the time.

Now, it should be pointed out that the number of developers targeting industrial design is a very small plurality.  Commerce and engineering are next, followed by numerous other use cases that get single digit responses.  So this new emerging market is still fractured and forming, but it’s exciting to think about all the ways AR will be able to change our lives in a million different ways – through healthcare advances, retail, travel, entertainment, you name it!

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