How the pandemic made AR and AI essential tools

As society started to adapt to the ‘new normal’, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies became essential tools to meet both professional and personal needs. Below is a list of three areas impacted by AI and AR technologies.

The Office

Social-distancing measures and other restrictions left companies wondering how to maintain day-to-day functions while following the new rules. Working from home was the most obvious solution, but there was still a concern about a loss of productivity. AI/AR were adopted by many companies to fill the gap between at-home and in-office work and keep productivity high.

The main benefit of AR is that it enables workers to work collaboratively from a distance. Videoconferencing over Zoom, or similar platforms, has become a staple during the pandemic, but VR technology takes it one step further. AR technology enables colleagues in separate locations to work in a shared virtual space and virtually look at the same object. AR is especially beneficial for people working on projects that require product design and other creative and hands-on industries.

AI has similarly been used to make working from home easier. To accommodate the mass number of workers switching to the home office, companies started to use more Chatbots and automated I.T. systems to help answer the questions employees had. AI tech is also used to automate scheduling and allow for the use of e-Signatures.  

The Service Industry

New technological advancements always create a mass fear of job loss. During the industrial revolution, weavers prepared for the worst when the spinning jenny was released. Luckily, the revolution also created many jobs.

Workers today are not so lucky. The difference between the industrial revolution and the current pandemic-induced AI/AR revolution is speed. During the industrial revolution and more recent periods of technological revolution, the implementation of new technology was slow. Workers had time to retrain and find other avenues before the technology took over. Since the pandemic put AR/AI implementation into overdrive, there was no time or resources available to retrain staff and many were left without work.

Workers in the service industry were hit the hardest by the transition. To follow government regulations and reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19, companies quickly replaced workers with machines. Hotel chains deployed robots to assist guests to their rooms. Call centers replaced people with chatbots to answer questions virtually. Tollbooths are now run by AI operators. The list goes on and on.

 Retail

Retail brands needed to find a way to quickly adapt to COVID-19 restrictions and regulations without risking the ambiance of an in-store experience. AR was a perfect solution. AR has three main functions: visualization, annotation, and storytelling. Together, the three replicate the in-store experience from the comfort of the consumers home.

Brands like Amazon and Wayfair use AR to create an easier shopping experience. Amazon’s newly announced “Room Decorator” lets shoppers virtually place multiple items into pictures of their homes to see how it will look. Similarly, Gucci recently partnered with Snapchat to let users try on eight of its shoes virtually.

Before the pandemic, AI and AR were used by retail brands to generate personalized recommendations, answer questions with chatbots and provide a realistic look at a product. Now, for many businesses, it has replaced the in-store experience entirely. Jon Cheney, CEO of Seek AR, predicts the use of AR by retail brands will continue to grow even after the pandemic ends. Once people experience the ease and flexibility of shopping from home, they will no longer feel the need to go to a physical store.

 

For better or for worse, the recent increase of AI and AR technologies is undeniable. Both have quickly become essential tools used in sectors ranging from retail to healthcare.  So next time you are shopping online, visiting a hotel, or working from home keep an eye out for how your experience is being tailored by AI and AR.