In the current reality with the COVID-19 crisis, all three things that make up augmented reality (AR) - visualization, explanation, and storytelling - are becoming increasingly important for brands. In the history of mankind, predicting the future has always been popular, and almost always unsuccessful. The COVID-19 virus pandemic has opened up territory where everyone wants to predict what will happen tomorrow and what the time will look like after the pandemic.
In this article, you'll find out (almost) everything you wanted to know about one part of the technology during and after the coronavirus. These are our thoughts on augmented reality. Elaborating on this topic could help us think together about how to turn a virus-induced collapse into the beginning of something different, or at least acceleration of the old and the good.
One Thing Is for Sure Regarding AR...
One thing is for sure: AR is no longer just about technology; today it defines how we want to live in a real-world that has changed with this not-so-new technology, and how experiences that are meaningful will be designed and can enrich humanity.
As we said, there are three things that AR does very well: visualization, explanation, and storytelling. In the current reality with the COVID-19 crisis, all three are becoming increasingly important for brands, cultural institutions, entertainment, interactions, schools, and work environments.
AR can help bring the outside world inside: from a virtual safari with 3D animals in your living room using AR search on Google on your phone, to collaborating with the avatars of distant colleagues to make it look like you're in the same room.
Examples of How Technology Can Help Real-Life
Given classrooms around the world are closed, teachers are moving to online learning models. One good example of how almost an entire educational institution is transitioning to this way of studying is Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) where all 185 freshmen use HoloLens and HoloAnatomy, an award-winning distance learning AR application developed by CRWU and the Cleveland Clinic.
HoloAnatomy helps students study the human body in ways that aren't otherwise possible. By providing access to the smallest details of human anatomy in 3D, learning isn't limited by the availability of cadaver.
A new partnership between Magic Leap, the Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) of the University of Southern California (USC), and the Dan Marino Foundation has developed a new tool using the mixed reality that helps young people with autism overcome an important barrier to entering the business environment, namely personal interviews.
The Virtual Interactive Training Agent (VITA) application, now in mixed reality on the Magic Leap 1 platform, is a virtual job interview simulation that helps boost self-confidence and reduce anxiety.
As for the explanatory part, Microsoft's Dynamics 365 Remote Assist on HoloLens and mobile devices allows you to collaborate remotely by sharing a live image with experts to seek help. Experts can directly record what you observe to guide you through the entire process.
Remote assistance scenarios, previously used in the workplace for field repairs and training, can be extended to emergencies in remote locations where a professional, such as a medical professional, may not be readily available.
Microsoft's Project Tokyo helps visually impaired people "see" with AR, AI, and HoloLens. The device can detect the location of people in the user's environment and recognize faces, transmitting information to the device carrier via audio recordings. Perhaps in the future, an option could be added that will warn wearers of the device when someone approaches them to less than two meters away.
New Forms of Expression Thanks to AR
AR creates new forms of storytelling and creative expression by developing simultaneously in our homes and public spaces. It changes the way we tell, share, and even remember stories by introducing new and different perspectives. In February 2020, the Los Angeles Times partnered with Yahoo News, media company RYOT, and artist Micah404 to create the AR experience of researching cult dresses from the Oscars Academy Awards from the past five decades.
With events like the Met Gala 2020 (the annual fundraising ceremony for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute in New York City) canceled until further notice, AR can provide a way to bring the entire experience into your home by allowing you to watch and even try on costumes from the exhibition.
The diverse potential of VR and AR applications is almost limitless, but in a world that requires social distancing due to a coronavirus pandemic, it can go a step further. As with most technology gadgets, the key aspect is to choose the most adequate and creative way to use it.
Multiple Potential of VR and AR Applications
It's probably not surprising that people around the world are using applications more due to the total quarantine. According to the latest reports, time spent in one day on apps on Android devices was increased by 20% in the first quarter of 2020, while spending money on apps on iOS and Android devices also went up, by 15% and 5%, respectively, setting a new record in spending money within apps per quarter of $ 23.4 billion worldwide.
These reports say that, compared to the last quarter of 2019, the time spent on applications in Italy during March increased by 30%, while in France, Germany, and the USA it jumped by 15%, 10% and also 10%, respectively. Knowing that governments around the world still maintain strict measures, we expect that the time spent on apps will continue to grow globally.
How to Host a Mobile App on AR?
When AR is implemented on a mobile app project, it needs to plan for a large amount of processing power, translating it to a highly demanding issue - it requires huge amounts of bandwidth. This means that a mobile app project must be hosted on a server that meets these demands.
Given that AR is a technology that's about to change the world, it needs to have its pieces hosted on a next-gen hosting technology, which leads us to cloud computing. The combination of AR and cloud is a perfect match.
Furthermore, there's one database fitting in this story - MySQL database. This fully managed open-source database helps to deploy cloud-native applications. A web hosting that uses MySQL database, as the world's most popular open-source database, is MySQL hosting. It's easy to set up and manage. MySQL hosting is able to store huge amounts of data as well as powerfully processing content. And, this is exactly what every app project is looking for.
By combining it with AR and MySQL, the only drawback of cloud computing technology, which is users' access through secured channels only, is pretty much alleviated.
Stats on Apps
All social applications, either created on Android or iOS, have reported an increase in usage and engagement, and again, this isn't surprising considering that we're all locked in our homes and looking for ways to stay in touch with the outside world. Interestingly, spending money through applications has also increased as a result of various quarantine measures around the world.
If you want to connect with your audience, the data suggests that social apps are the place to be and there are plenty of opportunities for those who can run campaigns. When it comes to app performance, TikTok still holds the first place in terms of the number of downloads in front of WhatsApp and Facebook.
TikTok and Zoom as Leaders
What should be noted is that TikTok has entered the race in spending money on the app. Of course, much of the revenue comes from China, where Douyin, the local version of the app, generates significant revenue from the integration of eCommerce, which isn't currently part of the app outside the Chinese market. In February, spending through Douyin accounted for 91% of TikTok's total revenue, indicating the importance of Chinese users in that statistic.
The video chat apps Zoom and Houseparty also received significant attention in the midst of COVID-19 related quarantine. The data shows that today Zoom is the best-ranked iOS app in all 141 markets, while the download of the Houseparty app has increased by 735 times in the last week of March.
The focus on video connectivity tools has already led to the launch of various upgraded Facebook and Instagram video features, and it will be interesting to see if these tools will be able to take advantage of that increased attention and become more significant in applications and social space after COVID-19 restrictions end.
Opportunity for Brands
Again, the numbers show a significant opportunity to connect with audiences, now that there are fewer advertisers in the market, and when people spend more time on apps. It can also provide a good opportunity to boost brand visibility and attract people who search for information and products on the Internet.
But, of course, not all companies are in a position to do so, and you must also maintain awareness of broader global issues in your efforts to reach consumers. Nevertheless, this may be worth considering - and may help mitigate the financial consequences of a coronavirus pandemic.