When you hear the term augmented reality (AR), what comes to mind? For many, it’s images of expensive headsets and futuristic tech. While that may be true for some forms of virtual and mixed realities, for the most part, AR doesn’t involve expensive gear and has never been more accessible than it is today. So what is augmented reality, why is it important, and how can companies use it to their advantage?

What is augmented reality?

Augmented reality is often confused with virtual reality (VR), which relies fully on a virtual environment and doesn’t attempt to blend with the real world. In contrast, augmented reality definition is technology that involves virtual objects being superimposed onto reality with the help of smart devices like tablets and phones.

The goal with AR is to give users the ability to interact with virtual objects in 3-dimensional space, enabling them to experience them in the real world. This technology is powerful, and has the potential to transform company sales funnels, enabling virtual product demonstrations with an ease (all of your products are in your back pocket) and a level of user interactivity that was previously thought impossible.

A brief history of AR

Now that we know the augmented reality definition, let’s take a look at the history. While many think of augmented reality as recent, cutting-edge technology, it’s actually been around for over 50 years. Here’s an abbreviated timeline to show the progression of AR.

  • 1968: The first AR tech, an AR head-mounted display system, was developed at Harvard University by Ivan Sutherland
  • 1974: The first laboratory dedicated to augmented reality was built by Myron Kruger at the University of Connecticut
  • 1990: Tom Caudell coined the term ‘augmented reality’
  • 1992: Louis Rosenburg created Virtual Fixtures, one of the first augmented reality systems 
  • 1998: The NFL began using AR to mark the 1st & Ten line for televised games.
  • 2008: The first commercial AR app was developed by German agencies in Munich, allowing customers to interact with a virtual model of a car in real time by using a printed ad.
  • 2014: Google unveiled Google Glass, augmented reality glasses that allowed its users to have immersive experiences.
  • 2016: Pokémon Go launched, captivating millions of players and bringing AR into the mainstream
  • 2017: IKEA introduced IKEA Place, an app revealing the sales potential of AR technology

Though AR has been around for a while, we’ve only seen the technology become accessible and affordable in the past decade. So what does this mean for your company, and how can use harness AR’s limitless potential for your clients and teams.

3 ways to use augmented reality

Since augmented reality is so accessible (and only getting more accessible as technology advances), we think it’s in every company’s best interest to consider possibilities for using it. Here are a few uses for AR worth highlighting.

1. Drive sales with AR product demos

Augmented reality has the potential to supercharge your sales team, enabling them to walk through product demos with customers directly on a mobile device. For companies with larger, higher-tech products, this expands their ability to show off products to potential customers without the burden and complexity of bringing physical products with them, fumbling with set up, and potentially dealing with nonfunctional pieces or processes in front of a customer.

Looking for an intuitive app that saves your 3D product models and does the heavy lifting for you? Ask us about Array, a tool for companies to supercharge their sales funnels through AR.

2. Closely mimic real world scenarios while maintaining safety

There’s nothing more potent than experiential learning, and for industries where mistakes can be costly, it’s important to create a scenario that closely resembles reality while lowering the risk. AR and other forms of XR learning allow users to test their skills, learn from mistakes and grow from feedback in a no-consequence environment, a powerful combination that gives learners the skills they need and the confidence to continue improving.

3. Improve learning retention and engagement through AR learning

It’s no surprise that people learn best by learning from others. And because AR technology is compatible with the social learning method, using it in a training context can improve learner engagement and overall learning outcomes. Using augmented reality combines the best of both worlds: the enrichment of learning with others and the excitement of seeing the virtual and real come together.

In our work with an automotive company, we developed an AR app to educate potential customers on its electric car, how energy flows through it, and some of its defining features in the trade show setting and beyond. Apps like this take lofty concepts and put them right in front of us, allowing the learning process to more interesting and memorable.

So what are you waiting for?

What is augmented reality? You know that, the augmented reality definition has been covered. We also talked about the use cases for AR in your business — powering sales, safely experiencing real-world scenarios, and improved learning. So what are you waiting for? The potential of AR is huge, and the possibilities will continue to expand as technology continues advancing. Now is the time to take advantage of this powerful tool for learning, sales, and interactivity, and we’re happy to provide support as you navigate the process.

Interested in using AR to power your product sales?

With Array, demoing your products has never been easier.

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