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Guest Post by Sam O'Brien It's been a big year for augmented reality (AR). All the giant tech players such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon have invested heavily in the sector in 2019. But companies in Silicon Valley aren’t the only ones taking an interest. AR is being used across a wide range of the following industries: Telecommunications Construction Education Engineering Healthcare Live events Military Real estate Video entertainment In May 2019, there were 1.5 billion AR-compatible mobile devices in use. With the continued rollout of new AR-capable cell phones, this figure is only going to increase. By this point, you're probably thinking this sounds like a technology to get on board with. You would be correct. Experts have predicted the AR industry to be worth $25 billion by 2025. The benefits of its use are expected to be wide ranging and, while it is still an emerging technology, AR is already looking set for a promising future. How publishers are taking advantage of augmented reality Whichever industry you’re operating in, it is important to embrace the advantages of new tech as it comes in. Publishing is no different. Publishers have been quick to realize some of the possibilities that will come with AR. From interactive books to promotional experiences and learning, AR is set to transform our lives — bringing us even further on our journey from the physical and into the digital world. Assistive AR for telecommunications Telecommunications is an industry that’s being quickly transformed by advances in tech. Intelligent phone systems, like those delivered via VoIP Phone System, offer firms a range of new options. Customer service agents and others have a whole host of new features at their fingertips. Learning those systems can take a while if you use traditional training methods. That’s where AR can come in to support the telecommunications field. The different capabilities of new telecoms systems can be far more ably displayed via AR. AR training manuals and assistive resources make on-the-job training more intuitive. AR visualizations of a system in action make it much simpler for agents to learn their roles. They can see new systems as if in action. That’s without ever having to have direct contact with customers or clients. For publishers, that represents an opportunity. They have the chance to create and disseminate those kinds of manuals. With AR, they can create training materials for customer service teams that firms, large and small, will use across their organizations. Often, too, the full extent of the materials can be delivered via an AR-enabled phone or headset. That makes the manuals and resources both easier to produce and to consume at point of use. AR and books Augmented reality is set to take the immersive experience of reading to even greater heights. Development is currently underway into AR reading materials, from illustrated comics to science journals. Comic book powerhouse Marvel has been using AR for some time. It has published a string of successful AR comics and its first AR publication, Avengers Vs. X-men No.1, was released as far back as 2012. A more recent example of how AR and books can be combined to great effect is the Marvel graphic novel Masters of the Sun. The graphic novel was released alongside an AR app, which gave readers the chance to dig deeper into the storyline. The same approach is being used by publishers across a range of sectors. For example, in the case of the popular children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, AR creates a logical add on to the story, enhancing the reader’s experience. Used in this way, augmented reality is a method for creating a rich universe for readers to explore. This approach is being replicated by a wide range of publishers covering everything from children’s books through to content for adults. Assistive AR for medical professionals, accountants, lawyers, construction and engineering personnel Publishers in the professional service sectors are also set to see a huge transformation in the way they produce books and websites, using AR to benefit learning, training, law, finance, and a host of other subjects. The February 2019 release of the Microsoft Hololens 2 headset showed just how quickly AR tech is developing. Medical professionals now have the ability to source information from science and medical data banks. Doctors are already engaging with AR resources to maximize their efficiency and success when treating patients. AR is enabling workforces to stay focused on the job at hand by sourcing relevant information and augmenting existing knowledge whilst they’re actually completing the task. AR provides resources for professional assistive services too. AR toolkits are already making a significant impact and new market opportunities are opening up every day. Publishers are already creating apps that allow customers to undertake repairs on their home goods. Training booklets will never be boring again. AR gives construction and engineering workers the ability to learn about health and safety measures and practice tasks safely while ensuring the work is done correctly. The possibilities are limitless and publishers are just starting to realize the potential of augmented reality. Imagine being able to practice brain surgery from a textbook, without risk to a patient. You can learn to weld from an online educational resource, without any material costs. Publishers are already creating whole networks of data banks to provide information, which will be crucial for the roll-out of AR tech within the industry. Augmented reality in the education sector Augmented reality will be a boon for the education sector too, providing a whole new medium through which to engage with learners and advance their knowledge on a wide range of topics, including how businesses communicate. Emerging educational tech is expected to be worth $250 billion by 2020, and AR is a leading force in the market. Rather than showing just an illustrated image of a heart, with AR the publishers of this book on the human body were able to create a far more engaging visualization of a beating heart. It’s easy to see how this technology can be applied to math, geography and other subjects. And AR doesn’t just make education more engaging for students, it enables teachers to explain abstract and difficult concepts more easily through 3D modelling. The importance of staying relevant as AR use grows It was Nelson Jackson who said, “I do not believe you can do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and still be in business tomorrow.” We're set for a future that's vastly different to the present. When you work in a competitive market, it's imperative you keep up with changing trends. AR presents a wealth of opportunity for publishers, and the industry must grab the chance to develop engaging AR websites, apps, programs, databanks, games, and more. Another huge opportunity presented by the use of AR is data collection. Users will login to access AR downloadable content, giving publishers vital insight into their audience. Perhaps now is the time to improve your business intelligence capability to ensure you can take full advantage. With massive industries lining up to get on board, AR has already attracted a lot of attention and investment. Auto manufacturers, education, the military, healthcare, retail, science — AR will affect them all. But the AR potential for publishers, in particular, is close to limitless. There is no time like the present to get behind this tech and really push the envelope. Sam O'Brien is the Senior Website Optimisation & User Experience Manager for EMEA at RingCentral, a global UCaaS systems provider. Sam has a passion for innovation and loves exploring ways to collaborate more with dispersed teams. He has written for websites such as X-Cart and Vxchnge. You can contact him here.