Augmented reality uses equipment such as a headset or smartphone to let you view and interact with virtual objects in the real world. Unlike virtual reality, which immerses you totally in a created environment, augmented reality overlays the computer-generated images on top of the view you see through your device’s camera.
The market for augmented reality, also known as AR, is growing quickly. By 2020, augmented reality technology should reach about a billion people worldwide. Major smartphone manufacturers and independent app developers are all jumping into the augmented reality trend.
Augmented reality has plenty of small business uses. AR games invite players to seek out computer-generated objects and characters in real-world locations. GPS-based apps using augmented reality give consumers access to maps and location data placed onto images of the street and buildings around them. Apps that read QR codes or other markers pull up information about a real-world object when you point your device or headset at the marker. Projection-based augmented reality projects images onto a surface so you can interact with them. Some AR apps let customers see how a particular item might look in their home or office before buying. Museums use augmented reality to let visitors learn more about objects in the collection and to get close-up views of delicate or valuable items.
Augmented reality devices and apps are useful in the workplace as well. Some companies use augmented reality for employee training or for remote participation in off-site meetings. Whether you’re new to entrepreneurship or a seasoned small business owner, augmented reality gives you a new way to interact with your customers and employees.