New report breaks down where AR is delivering ROI now and in the future
Augmented reality (AR) has long captured the imagination of consumers, technologists and, of course, investors. A mix of high tech companies and venture capital firms have invested more than $9 billion in AR in recent years, building an innovation framework for this technology. While headlines have focused on AR’s potential to transform gaming, sports, and entertainment, the team at Lux Research, a leading provider of tech-enabled research and advisory services about technology innovation, has identified enterprise applications as the area where AR has seen the most success and traction.
In a new report on implementing AR in the enterprise, Lux identifies six enterprise tasks where AR is succeeding and delivering return on investment (ROI) today. The in-depth analysis, designed to help companies tap into the right AR technology mix for their business needs, details the pain points AR addresses in the enterprise as well as the problems the technology will solve next.
“AR enterprise applications follow the theme of being complex procedures where human operation is central to the task,” said Tracy Woo, lead Electronic User Interfaces analyst at Lux Research and author of the report. “The tangible ROI that AR delivers in these tasks prove the technology’s growing necessity. Continued investment and advances will expand AR’s role in the enterprise, eclipsing the fading promise of consumer-focused AR.”
Lux’s take on top enterprise AR applications
Below are the six areas where AR is showing the most upside for enterprises, according to Lux’s research:
- Assembly – With AR, digital information is overlaid onto the real world to provide guidance in assembling a multi-part component (e.g., wire harness, automobile, etc.) or in gathering items to assemble a device or bill-of-material. The result: a more efficient and productive process that frees the technician’s hand to stay on task while keeping assembly and sorting instructions directly within view at all times.
- Quality control – Using AR can assure product quality by comparing digital images with the physical product. This process enables higher accuracy, faster checking, and thereby lower operation costs and faster delivery to market.
- Maintenance – AR applications indicate the source or location of damage or needed maintenance without the need for technical manuals and specialized documentation. The applications also provide hands-free, step-by-step instruction on how to perform maintenance procedures or fix damaged parts.
- Prototyping and design – AR aids designers by replacing electronic files, emailed drawings, or countless shared server files with a means of visually communicating a design, from the developer’s point of view. This way of communicating enables faster iteration and a more intuitive design process that can bring physically separated teams virtually together.
- Remote expert assistance – AR-powered real-time visual assistance guides non-experts (e.g., field technicians, consumers) on how to assemble or troubleshoot a technical issue by displaying instructions and annotating a visual communication channel.
- Warehousing and sorting – AR assists workers by identifying the correct location of and placement for goods, components, and products during the loading and picking process, whether in a storage facility or in a vehicle that transports these items for shipment.
The next waves of enterprise AR growth
Based on the success of AR in the tasks above, Lux predicts that the technology will become more fully integrated into business operations in the following ways:
- Sorting operations expansion – Today, smart glasses are used for hands-free operation in sorting and warehousing. Watch for further integrations in uses like filling prescriptions in pharmacies and baggage handling at airports. As smart glasses are currently implemented, expect full-scale integration into sorting operations in the next five years.
- Intelligent delivery – AR can be used for completeness checks during the delivery process. Inside the vehicle, an AR device will highlight the necessary items for delivery, mark the optimal loading sequence at the distribution center (taking into account weight, route, and fragility), and correctly navigate the driver to the correct address. Current delivery systems use an amalgamation of digital information via tablets and GPS to guide the worker. Expect to see full scale implementation in the next five to ten years.
- Additive design – As more companies adopt AR solutions, the physical boundaries of disparately located design groups will decrease. Groups can virtually conduct meetings and perform collaborative designs without leaving the desk. Current hardware is in nascent stages where field-of-view and computational process power are not at the level where real-time collaboration at an enterprise scale are possible. Expect to see this application in the next 10 to 15 years.
The report, “How to Implement AR into Your Enterprise,” outlines the six tasks where AR is seeing traction in the enterprise, including case studies of leading deployments, and provides a guide to choosing the AR-specific features and functionalities that are key value drivers for different enterprise tasks.
About Lux Research | Lux Research is a leading provider of research and advisory services, helping clients drive growth through technology innovation. A pioneer in the research industry, Lux uniquely combines technical expertise and business insights with a proprietary intelligence platform, using advanced analytics and data science to surface true leading indicators. With quality data derived from primary research, fact-based analysis, and opinions that challenge traditional thinking, Lux clients are empowered to make more informed decisions today to ensure future success.