Virtual reality (VR) may capture the imagination – and the
headlines -- but for travel companies, augmented reality (AR) is where it’s at.
While VR creates a fully immersive experience that can virtually transport
people to other worlds, AR enhances the user’s view of the real world. By
superimposing digital content onto the physical world via a mobile device,
headgear or other viewing method, AR has the potential to engage, entertain,
inform and assist travelers. Google’s early Glass experiment in 2013-2014 highlighted
both interesting applications for AR glasses and problems (e.g., usability,
battery life, privacy issues, social stigma) that need to be solved before they
are widely adopted. But while standalone headgear or peripherals may eventually
gain traction, they are still expensive and cumbersome, so in the near term it
is mobile devices that will fuel AR growth.
Nearly every traveler has a smartphone, and they are
accustomed to using them for a broad range of daily tasks, including socializing,
gaming, navigation, research and exploring nearby activities. As travelers view
their surrounding area using the camera on their mobile device, AR can enhance
their experience via a rich, personalized layer of interactive content. In each
phase of the travel process, there are potential AR applications that could
create real value for travelers as well as travel companies. This article
reviews the state of AR in 2018 and provides an overview and examples of AR
applications for travel.
- AR for Travel: Where’s the ROI?