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11 March, 2019 11:28:49 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 11 March, 2019 11:51:17 AM
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Augmented reality: A new dimension in doing business

Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real-world are "augmented" by computer-generated perceptual information
Masihul Huq Chowdhury
Augmented reality: A new dimension in doing business

Axis Bank from India has its Near Me augmented reality app. The app enables an effortless search for finance-approved properties, ATM locations, and even the best dining offers that the city features. MoneyLion from Utah has launched an augmented reality (AR) app called Grow Your Stack. Through the app, users can see a visual representation of the balance in their bank account. A computer-generated image is overlapped onto the real-world environment and the representation itself is 100 per cent accurate (due to the fact that the app establishes a connection with accounts in various banks). According to analysts, augmented reality and virtual reality could be utilised to give bank customers tons of autonomy in terms of at-home banking. Hybrid bank branches are also likely to come into existence. These physical locations will make use of AR to enable self-service, chatbots, or robots for the provision of information and live video conferencing capabilities to connect a customer to an actual bank representative upon necessity. Virtual and hybrid branches will definitely be the future of banking. A white paper called The Future of the Branch pinpoints the shortcomings that video conferencing brings to the table (especially when it comes to discussing contracts or clauses). Instead, the authors of the study suggest that virtual reality branches will be much more capable of offering customers what they want. Visual holograms and projections, the creation of personalised offers that will be displayed onto real-life surroundings, account opening, closing and other transactions could all be handled through the adoption of AR. All of the simulations and projections will be personalised through the use of relevant data and artificial intelligence.

Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real-world are "augmented" by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities, including visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory, and olfactory. The overlaid sensory information can be constructive (i.e. additive to the natural environment) or destructive (i.e. masking of the natural environment) and is seamlessly interwoven with the physical world such that it is perceived as an immersive aspect of the real environment. Augmented reality is used to enhance natural environments or situations and offer perceptually enriched experiences.

With the help of advanced AR technologies (e.g. adding computer vision and object recognition) the information about the surrounding real world of the user becomes interactive and digitally manipulable. Information about the environment and its objects is overlaid on the real world. This information can be virtual or real, e.g. seeing other real sensed or measured information such as electromagnetic radio waves overlaid in exact alignment with where they actually are in space. Augmented reality also has a lot of potential in the gathering and sharing of tacit knowledge. Augmentation techniques are typically performed in real time and in semantic context with environmental elements. Immersive perceptual information is sometimes combined with supplemental information like scores over a live video feed of a sporting event. This combines the benefits of both augmented reality technology and heads up display technology (HUD). This is rather different from virtual reality. Virtual reality means computer-generated environments for you to interact with, and be immersed in. Augmented reality adds to the reality you would ordinarily see rather than replacing it. Augmented reality is often presented as a kind of futuristic technology, but a form of it has been around for years. For example, the heads-up displays in many fighter aircraft as far back as the 1990s would show information about the attitude, direction and speed of the plane, and only a few years later they could show which objects in the field of view were targets. In the past decade, various labs and companies have built devices that give us augmented reality. In 2009, the MIT Media Lab's Fluid Interfaces Group presented SixthSense, a device that combined the use of a camera, small projector, smartphone and mirror. The device hangs from the user's chest in a lanyard fashion from the neck. Four sensor devices on the user's fingers can be used to manipulate the images projected by SixthSense. Google rolled out Google Glass in 2013, moving augmented reality to a more wearable interface; in this case, glasses. It displays on the user's lens screen via a small projector and responds to voice commands, overlaying images, videos and sounds onto the screen. Google pulled Google Glass at the end of December 2015. As it happens, phones and tablets are the way augmented reality gets into most people's lives. Vito Technology's Star Walk app, for instance, allows a user to point the camera in their tablet or phone at the sky and see the names of stars and planets superimposed on the image. Another app called Layar uses the smartphone's GPS and its camera to collect information about the user's surroundings. It then displays information about nearby restaurants, stores and points of interest. Word Lens was an augmented reality translation application from Quest Visual. Word Lens used the built-in cameras on smartphones and similar devices to quickly scan and identify foreign text (such as that found in a sign or a menu), and then translate and display the words in another language on the device's display. The words were displayed in the original context on the original background, and the translation was performed in real-time without connection to the internet. For example, using the viewfinder of a camera to show a shop sign on a smartphone's display would result in a real-time image of the shop sign being displayed, but the words shown on the sign would be the translated words instead of the original foreign words. Until early 2015, the application was available for the Apple's iPhone, iPod, and iPad, as well as for a selection of Android smartphones. The application was free on Apple's iTunes, but an in-app purchase was necessary to enable translation capabilities. On Google Play, there were both the free demo and the full translation-enabled versions of the application. At Google's unveiling of its Glass Development Kit in November 2013, translation capabilities of Word Lens were also demonstrated on Google Glass. According to the January 2014 New York Times article, Word Lens was free for Google Glass. Google, Inc. acquired Quest Visual on May 16, 2014 in order to incorporate Word Lens into its Google Translate service. As a result, all Word Lens language packs were available free of charge until January 2015. The details of the acquisition have not been released. Word Lens feature was incorporated into the Google Translate app and released on January 14, 2015. It is there but still it is not there yet. There are a number of applications as on date. For instance, customers might just scan using their mobile camera at shops in a mall to locate the best offers and deals around them or even locate an ATM to withdraw cash. One can even point at product brochures and see the comparison with other similar products. Similarly, banks have come up with home financing apps where customer could scan the property with the mobile camera that he/she may buy, and it gives the past sales history, current property listings and other reviews. E Commerce and mobile commerce are not far behind. There are talks already about AR apps allowing purchase of a dress just as the model sporting it walks the ramp. However, these applications are just baby steps considering the potential of ART.

 Unlike banking, ART is in much advanced stages in other domains like for instance it can be used to aid in surgical procedures which could be life threatening. Similarly, ART in banking has to move ahead of just creating a Sci-Fi movie of the past. There is a lot more AR can achieve, if only it is teamed with other technologies like analytics and artificial intelligence. Visualisation is always an outcome for analytics and now one can imagine the power of visualising using 3D projection clubbed with the real world. This is where AR can redefine the future customer experience. Similarly, for banks which are globally spread, ART can give that sky gaze on the banking operations right into the board rooms. End client trainings can be taken to another level with superimpositions on to the real field. Digitalise a branch person presence in space for the end customers. Broadcast banking ads right on top of the cricket or football grounds spatially. End customers who book tickets can be given real time display regarding the location, historical events of past, interpret foreign text on signboards. Imagination is the limit. Before it becomes too late, banks and solution providers must join the ART jamboree.

Any smartphone or tablet can be an AR platform to create a shopping environment for customers, whether that's within the traditional brick-and-mortar or online store. AR application company Marxent helped Harley-Davidson create an iPad-based app that provides a virtual shopping experience that gives customers the ability to try out body types, seats, lights and add other options for a truly custom bike design. An ecommerce only retailer could use AR technology to create a three-dimensional shop that virtually replicates the experience of shopping in a traditional store. Giving customers the ability to try an item before buying it improves satisfaction and reduces costly returns. AR allows the remote expert to superimpose markings, message and diagrams directly onto the engineer's field of view and the use of smart glasses ensures the engineer's hands are kept free to simultaneously perform fixes. Use of AR in the field can improve safety, reduce confusion and take the pressure off engineers who can't possibly be experts in all technologies and infrastructures. AR can empower a mobile workforce, linking workers to experts around the globe. AR app company augment implemented an end-to-end AR solution for Watermark Products, a leading supplier of inflight products for the airline industry. Using Augment's plugin, designers visualise product mockups at scale via tablets. Rather than creating costly prototypes, clients are presented with an AR experience that depicts side-by-side comparisons of new and old products — allowing clients to quickly understand the impact of the proposed new products. AR can be used as an aid to early-stage product design and development so designers can see a more precise view of product form and functionality. In 2015, Hyundai became the first mainstream automaker to launch an augmented reality owner's manual. Using a smartphone or tablet, consumers get how-to information for repairs, maintenance and vehicle features. The app contains how-to videos, 3D overlay images that appear when users scan various areas of their vehicle (like the engine bay) and dozens of informational guides. Hyundai expanded the AR owner's manual programme in 2016. AR makes it possible for even inexperienced people to identify problems and perform repairs by following step-by-step instructions using AR overlays, improving customer satisfaction by reducing downtime and associated costs. One of the first major commercial applications developed with Apple’s ARK it is IKEA Place. The Scandinavian furniture maker’s foray into AR uses your mobile device’s camera to visualise how virtual IKEA items would look in any given space.

 From sleeper sofas to end tables, a growing list of more than 3,200 items that can be placed in living rooms, bedrooms, offices or any place that can fit a chair. It’s also an incredibly user-friendly way to push AR further into the mainstream. IKEA may be bringing its virtual store into real life, but its fast fashion retailer Zara that’s bringing virtual life into its physical store. In April, Zara replaced window displays and in-store mannequins with models and product demonstrations that could only be experienced through the Zara AR app. Encouraged to “shop the look in augmented reality,” customers could point their smartphones at the seemingly plain signage and bring to life a virtual catwalk. In short video clips, models brought spring fashion to life by strutting through Zara’s aisles and window displays. And, of course, the models’ outfits were only one tap away from a user’s cart, a seamless transition from runway to retail. App developers have been utilizing AR to deliver information more frequently since the arrival of Pokemon Go. Nonprofits could easily tap into AR’s potential by using it to spread awareness for their causes in interactive and accessible ways. Four years ago, an organization called Save the Children tried exactly that. Save the Children teamed up with Aurasma, an AR developer, to create a rudimentary app that opened a video when users pointed their phones at Save the Children newsletters. Users had the option to click through to a donation page after opening the video. Save the Children Senior Digital Fundraising Executive Alexandra Bono commented on the campaign. “At Save the Children, we are always looking for new ways to engage people with the human stories behind our life-saving appeals,” said Bono. “This campaign, facilitated by Aurasma, brings together these two channels in a compelling new way which we hope will support donations to our East Africa appeal.” Crisis, a charity to help the homeless, also used Aurasma’s AR app in an art exhibit dedicated to homelessness in the United Kingdom. Viewers could point their phones at the artwork on display to open interviews with the artists.

We can copy the successful usage of augmented reality across the globe and use the technology for health services, retail, banks, governance etc.

The successful use can also help us in the proper distribution or supply chain to ensure that the producers in the marginal level get proper pricing.

The writer, a banker by profession, has worked both in local and overseas market with various foreign and local banks in different positions

SHK

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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