Different Industries, Different Use Cases
Even though we have had the means to support visual information overlays for over a decade, it is only now that enterprises have started to use them actively and create additional value. China Southern Airlines (CSA) is one of the companies that is supporting their daily operational activities with the power of AR and increasing efficiency.
One of the most important applications of these technologies is in safety. CSA engineers do not carry a thick maintenance manual around with them, instead their glasses provide another layer of information over the objects that they have to inspect. The glasses automatically recognize the object and provide the related information step by step or show a video or a picture of it.
The business impact created by wearables is not limited to AR/VR technologies. Other than glasses, wearables may also be a supportive tool. Mercedes Benz and CarrefourSA are implementing smart gloves (you can see the details here.) to support their daily operations, especially to support their logistics activities. The gloves are being used in different parts of daily operations such as goods reception, side-line supply, quality control, assembly, picking, sorting, sequencing, packaging, etc. All these features are supported with haptic and vocal feedback. The gloves, in the case of CarrefourSA, are used in 11 different warehouses. “We have achieved a speed increase of more than 50% and human errors were reduced to almost zero.” says Halit Nadir Gül, Logistics Manager of CarrefourSA. “Moreover, we are able to measure the meaningful data collected from the field and make more accurate decisions, which is very valuable for us” she adds. 
Different Industries have different potential use cases. For instance, guidelines and detailed information layer (as CSA are utilizing) can also be used in manufacturing, and the same processes can be supported by creating digital twins of the products to examine them in detail and perhaps even with the support of AI. The same could be beneficial for healthcare. Having a digital twin of a patient would allow remote surgery with some suggestion mechanisms, or allow training of that case beforehand. Employee education, simulations, prototypes, and panic/disaster case studies with visual support would be beneficial for almost all industries.
Daily Life Shopping Habits are also Changing
While thinking about use cases, the retail industry is one of the most active users of such technologies. The first use case that comes to mind for the retail industry is virtually trying before buying. Amazon is one of the first companies that started to do this by allowing users to virtually try on shoes, eyewear, and T-shirts. Ikea and Home Depot are some other examples that provide such services by providing virtual preview alternatives for furniture and other products that they sell.
Another alternative approach is gamification or partnerships with games. This is mostly used for connecting with younger customers. Burberry has created its mobile arcade racing game called B Surf. This game allows players to race against each other with characters that wear clothes chosen by the players from a specific Burberry collection. It has AR face filters and characters as prizes.
Another example of a brand that is focusing efforts here is Louis Vuitton. According to HBR , the money spent on in-game purchases such as loot boxes or skins is predicted to be $50 billion by 2022. This highlights the collaboration between Louis Vuitton and League of Legends (which had around 150 million active monthly players in September 2022). They have partnered to sell digital Louis Vuitton skins for the League of Legends characters. This is one of the examples of virtual goods and commodity partnerships.
Different Heroes and the Competition Between Them
All these technologies and use cases require strong and varying infrastructures. Cloud, low latency networks (such as 5G), chips & processors, and edge infrastructures are at the backend of augmentation technologies. We use these to support the software to see different virtual content as in the given use cases. Some other content examples that we could mention are loyalty apps, social media, gaming, websites, e-commerce, etc. We also use some kind of hardware to use these on, such as AR glasses like those CSA use, gloves (haptics) as in the example of CarrefourSA, headsets, and hopefully brain-computer interfaces at some point.
All of these aspects require different service providers. Since these are some relatively new topics, it is still not that clear who will be leading the way. Different companies try to implement technologies with different approaches in different ways. One of the most important competitions in this area is between Meta and Apple. “This is a competition of philosophies and ideas” says Mark Zuckerberg. Both of these companies are working on both hardware and software technologies, but with different approaches. 36 different companies have formed a standards group for “metaverse tech”, including Meta, Microsoft, Epic Games, Nvidia, Unity, Sony, Qualcomm, W3C, etc. Apple is not one of these companies, reminding us that they are usually characteristically silent about their hardware strategies.
Digital is not Only About Technology
With the help of these service providers, the capabilities of augmentation technologies and their feasibility are in a better position in comparison with a decade ago. Initiatives have started to be implemented already. Digital is continuing to cause a doping effect on enterprises, and here we have been focusing on rather niche topics of the powers that it creates. AR/VR/MR and other employee augmentation initiatives are just some of many different technologies, and technology is only one of the dimensions that support Digital Maturity. People, Customer, Governance, Innovation, and Operations are other dimensions that should be taken into consideration. Make sure that you are Digitally Mature enough to keep competing, with the support of this and many other topics.