We are in the midst of a fundamental change in the way organizations communicate not only with customers, but also the way employees and project teams collaborate with each other.
Numerous factors have accelerated live video adoption beyond what many industry experts had predicted. First, we’ve witnessed a proliferation of live video endpoints, from more advanced smartphones to the ever-evolving landscape of the internet of things (IoT). Second, we’ve seen great strides in network and bandwidth improvements, with high-quality, high-capacity, low-cost bandwidth available almost everywhere. And last but certainly not least, we’ve seen a drastic shift in consumer acceptance and expectations of live video as a communication medium.
At the same time, a wave has been building around augmented reality (AR). AR opens up a new paradigm that enables the physical reality around us to be overlaid with rich contextual information in a way that was previously not possible. AR and virtual reality (AR/VR) spending is predicted to reach $17.8 billion worldwide this year — a nearly 95% increase over 2017. More than 60% of AR/VR expenditures will come from the commercial sector in 2018 and that is expected to rise to over 85% of the global total in 2021. When Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned that AR would “change everything,” it ushered in the new era.
The combination of the live video and AR waves is going to unlock some of the most exciting breakthroughs for organizations as they aim to provide a richer and more engaging experience for their customers. Here’s how.
What impact do we see from live video plus AR already?
For the first time, AR is able to support cognition and quickly augment our perception of the physical world around us. Whether for entertainment purposes for the next generation of video games or for improving safety and efficiency in the workplace, AR will appear in more areas of our lives.
Several trends are helping drive the adoption of AR, not the least of which is the progress of enabling technologies like ARCore in Android and ARKit in iOS. These technologies make it easier to implement digital workflows from a software perspective.
Many young people’s first experience with AR will involve using the devices we’re already carrying around: smartphones. Popular apps like Snapchat support features like 3D bitmojis that layer right on top of real-world views.
Smartphones, along with other devices like smart glasses and helmets, will help proliferate AR-powered live video use cases and revolutionize digital workflows in a number of industries, including field services, healthcare, insurance and education. We’re only just beginning to scratch the surface of what is possible.
By 2025, the global AR/VR healthcare market is estimated to reach $5.1 billion and shows potential in several clinical workflows such as diagnosis, assisted surgery, telehealth and more. For example, applications are now actively using AR to assist with early detection of skin cancer. Consider complex surgeries: By bringing critical information into a surgeon’s field of view and using live video with a remote surgeon providing additional support, they can potentially conduct operations more efficiently, leading to better patient outcomes.
Beyond surgery, these experiences can also be used for training. Touch Surgery, for example, is a tool for healthcare professionals that act as a simulator for performing surgery. It provides a realistic guide through every step of a procedure. Users can quickly learn, test their knowledge and practice for surgery, all through AR and live video.
Field Services is another area ripe for disruption in the next few years. AR and live video will drive efficiencies, cost consolidation, higher satisfaction rates and customer engagement.
Companies like Fieldbit are overlaying rich contextual information, coupled with remote collaboration, to quickly bring down resolution times and drive efficiencies by enabling a remote expert workforce.
DAQRI is another innovative AR company building out not only hardware but software to help accelerate decision making by technicians in the field, scaling AR with capabilities meant to deliver contextually relevant data to both the field and the office. This is particularly useful in training, field services and support in heavy industrial locations, such as oil rigs and mining facilities.
Property and auto insurance claims processing can become more efficient with relatively straightforward AR components overlaid on the video. Let’s imagine that your car was rear-ended. In real time, you can call your insurance agency and show them the damage through live video, and the agent can then use measurement tools overlaid on the live stream to determine the size of the damage to the car, speeding up the reimbursement calculation.
This is not only useful in a customer engagement use case, but it is also applicable to a variety of alternative scenarios. Supplemental adjustments are just one example — auto body shops can call in via smartphone applications to talk to a supplemental adjuster with live video and appropriate contextual information of the claim to get approved. This also helps build out efficiencies in the supplemental adjustment process on the agent side.
Education is another area in which AR and live video can play a transformative role in enabling and building better learning/classroom experiences.
Strong indicators of what is to come include applications like Quiver, which specializes in 3D augmented reality colour applications, complementing the experience of traditional paper-based media with smart applications. In an online classroom setting, the combination of live video with augmented reality allows students not only to communicate with each other and the teacher but to do so using 3D models of abstract concepts in a live, real-time setting. This vastly improves the efficacy of the learning process.
What’s next for the enterprise?
Companies that embrace the availability of rich contextual information and take advantage of live video and AR are going to experience efficiencies and fundamentally transform how they engage with their customers and users. Thanks to the explosive growth of devices and enabling technologies, I see the next seismic shift in digital transformation happening for most organizations in the next three years, if not sooner.
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