How can virtual reality in business and augmented reality in business help deliver a personalized customer experience?
While AR and VR have been popular concepts in science fiction for many decades, they have finally reached the technical maturity necessary to go from high-tech toy to a valid communication medium. While similar in concept, the two technologies differ in terms of functionality:
- Augmented reality refers to the overlay of a digital element on a real-world environment, usually through the use of a screen, like a phone or tablet. For example, furniture shoppers can use the retail mobile apps to point their smartphone at a space in their home to see what a couch, chair, table or any other piece of furniture would look like in that space.
- Virtual reality refers to the creation and delivery of an immersive digital experience that blocks out reality through the use of headsets, goggles, monitors or simulators. VR has been primarily used for video games, movies and entertainment, though it is also used to train professionals, like surgeons, soldiers and pilots. For example, Walmart has found virtual reality helpful for cross-training associates during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Augmented reality in business and virtual reality in business will soon help brands offer uniquely immersive and emotionally resonant experiences that exceed customer expectations. This transformation in customer engagement will be thanks in large part to the increasing availability and maturity of enabling technologies, such as 5G, broadband, cloud computing and artificial intelligence.
Recent iPhone and Android devices support augmented reality, delivering it into millions of consumers' hands. Smartphones are also equipped with better cameras, processors and displays than they once were, dramatically improving the AR and VR experience. Specialized headsets for AR and VR are also available at more attractive price points now.
All these recent advancements indicate a promising future for AR and VR. Virtual reality has the potential to be the most disruptive technology of the next decade, and the augmented and virtual reality market is expected to grow to over $30 billion by 2030. Major tech companies, like Alphabet, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Sony and Facebook, are racing to develop new hardware, software, development kits and app stores to make AR and VR as easy to adopt as smartphones were a decade ago.