This post is part of a series on Mobile App Development Trends for 2018 which is an effort to collate the important global practices that mobile app developers are adopting and finding successful results with.
Augmented Reality has been around for quite a while. Consumer apps like Snapchat and Pokémon Go have made Augmented Reality a useful and comprehensible concept for the layman. However, by making AR accessible on millions of Apple and Android devices, the introduction of iOS 11, AR-Kit (iOS) and AR-Core (Android) has intensified the competition for innovation and rolled out a larger playing ground for developers to explore effective use cases for supporting enterprise functions. Take, for example, the case of DHL. The use of AR wearable’s inside its warehouses enabled hands-free order picking and improved the productivity of workers by 25 per cent. A study conducted at Boeing revealed that animated AR descriptions on tablet-enabled workers to be 30 per cent faster and 90 per cent more accurate when assembling a mock wing. Enabling such hands-free access to contextual information has a wide applicability in field related jobs and organisations are actively figuring out ways of how best to use Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and such tools to simplify processes, optimise efficiency and increase productivity. Deskless workers or field technicians in various jobs need specific types of information in the form of instructions, lists, charts, data, pictures, videos and so on when they visit a site for repair or maintenance. AR can help superimpose all this data as they interact with the real world and help troubleshoot problems faster and far more easily. Moreover, through the use of devices such as AR-enabled headsets/smartglasses, experts can connect with field technicians remotely, view a given piece of equipment in detail and provide a solution.
From developers’ point of view, currently, there are two main challenges blocking the proliferation of AR-enabled mobile apps. The first is the technical barrier: the limited availability of supporting interactions, authoring tools and hardware as well as the lack of standards and 3D capabilities. The other challenge is taking this technology and making effective use cases out of it, like in the example of DHL above. But then again, measuring the return on investment may not be as easy as it seems, considering that measuring the business impact of AR is still largely an unfamiliar and unexplored area. Immense possibilities are created by the interaction of the real and virtual worlds, but creating cutting edge, goal-oriented applications that support organisational functions such as marketing, finance, operations or customer engagement is what will determine the real success of Augmented Reality.
As the need to make contextual information accessible to employees and customers drives market competitiveness, developers are actively pursuing the applications of augmented reality in the enterprise to fulfil that need.