Marked as one of the strategic tech trends for 2019 by Gartner, immersive technologies are changing how we interact with the world. Augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) and virtual reality (VR) are all parts of the mix, but AR on mobile devices is what really poised to democratize and expand this transformation.
Mobile AR, or MAR, is no longer a gimmick but an effective tool to boost academic productivity and learner engagement, as well as brand awareness and customer experience. Now, MAR is finding multiple use cases among companies and consumers alike. Let’s review the latest examples of innovative and smart MAR applications.
Augmenting the Classroom
Education is seeing probably the largest number of AR apps designed to augment the learning experience. It’s easy to explain: with literally hands-on guides, AR-based education brings multiple benefits. It can increase learners’ engagement through more interactivity, visualize complex concepts, minimize the forgetting curve and even help with kids’ sensory development.
There are plenty of examples, from explaining the anatomy of the human body by means of interactive t-shirts and teaching college-level math to learning foreign languages contextually and bringing historic figures back to life. Yet these seem to only scratch the surface of what’s possible.
MAR developers keep exploring using both smartphones and headsets as the AR-powered hardware, yet mobile is leading here as a more accessible platform. And education AR often comes for free: Twinkl offers more than 100 3D models of astronomical bodies, animals and artifacts for teachers to download. Now all it takes to bring a white rhino or Vincent van Gogh into the classroom is an iPhone and the company’s Quick Look app.
More Immersive Physical Play
Gaming developers are truly mastering the blend of physical and digital worlds into one hybrid reality. It would be a waste not to explore this potential, and Lego is doing just that.
Just a few days ago at the American International Toy Fair in New York, the famous toy manufacturer unveiled their project – eight playsets with a matching AR app. The augmented layer adds an interactive storyline to a physical playground, turning it into haunted locations with ghosts to catch. Called Lego® Hidden Side™ , the play kit is to be released sometime in August 2019.
Better Passenger Experience
Commercial aviation is one of the most fiercely competitive industry, where airlines’ key value proposition has already been shifted from price-based advantages to the grounds of passenger experience. To stand out here, UK low-cost airline easyJet chose to rely on augmented reality.
Now, easyJet have found a way to help travelers avoid oversize luggage charges through a smart use of MAR. Developed by TravelPort, the new AR feature in the airline’s iOS app allows users to scan their bags with their iPhone camera to check if the luggage dimensions fit into the permitted carry-on limits.
As simple as it is, this feature makes traveling a tad more convenient for easyJet passengers, and seems to score high on the brand’s strategic map. Being the first UK airline to offer such an AR-based tool, the company highlights how important AR is for improving their customers’ experience.
Blending in Fictional Reality
USA Today has gone even further in merging physical and digital reality by taking on the cinema world, namely costumes from this year’s Oscar-nominated movies. This is not the first time the US media outlet ventured into augmented reality. The company announced the AR update coming to its mobile app back in mid-2018, with the news about their collaboration with 321 LAUNCH on virtual rocket launches.
Now, the AR-powered mobile app for iOS and Android lets users peek inside the wardrobes of such lavishly decorated movies as The Favorite, Mary Poppins Returns, Bohemian Rhapsody and more. What does it have to do with USA Today’s readership, you ask? Each of the featured costume goes with the interview snippets with the designers themselves. Might be a new step toward more immersive media reading experience.
Beyond the Hype
Going back to Gartner analysts for more insight on the tech trends, we’ll find AR in the “trough of disillusionment” ahead of all the other emerging technologies. Is it good or bad?
Definitely, AR hasn’t lived up to all the hype yet, and it may be still 5 to 10 years till it reaches its full capacity. But what we see now is that mobile AR does bring value and ticks many boxes at once for students, customers, and brands.
What’s more, AR software development gets democratized, thanks to such ready-made AR developer tools as ARKit and ARCore by iOS and Android respectively. The mobile dev team at Altabel is ready to show you the best of these frameworks and many more AR building tools for your project.
Inspired by the examples above? Give me a shout to learn how to bring your idea into – well – a hybrid reality.