Augmented reality and virtual reality will lead the way in a post-pandemic world

This article was translated from our English edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are personal.

Of the many lessons learned this year, one of the most important may be the importance of social cohesion. Staying connected to each other and the outside world through technology has been a lifesaver for many people, both personally and professionally. For many companies, meanwhile, the biggest struggle has been finding ways to maintain the in-person strength of that connection with customers and team members.

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The most exciting way people have achieved this is by using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) systems to create physical experiences from the comfort of customers’ homes. Whole Foods, for example, went virtual this year, allowing customers to browse markets on the Web for that in-store feeling. Other organizations have experimented with ways to conduct virtual reality meetings to improve team collaboration and camaraderie.

While the need for social distancing spurred many of these innovative ways to stay together, this connecting technology was already ready and waiting for companies willing to take advantage of it. Advanced technologies like AR and VR are no longer the sci-fi dreams they once seemed to be. They are accessible to just about anyone with a new smartphone, both on the consumer and developer sides.

Related: AR / VR in the post Covid era: trends that will change the business ecosystem

They are available not only to large corporations like Whole Foods, but also to entrepreneurs and small businesses that are ready to connect in a whole new way. This time it should serve as a wake-up call for entrepreneurs. To survive in the present moment and thrive in the future, organizations must invest in advanced technologies that help them stay connected and keep people engaged.

AR and VR help startups stand out

Right now, major tech companies including Apple, Google, and Microsoft are creating easy ways to develop AR and VR apps across phones and tablets. These companies envision a future where these technologies are commonplace. Why haven’t other companies seen it yet?

Although a handful of companies, including Ikea, are using AR products for customers to see what the products would look like inside their homes, they are still vastly underused. Startups and small businesses have the opportunity to take advantage of this and use these technologies to differentiate themselves from the competition and improve customer engagement.

Related: 5 Reasons Why AR & VR Strategy Is A Must For Your Business

The question, then, should not be whether to invest in these advanced technologies, but how best to do so. Here are three ways to make the most of augmented reality, virtual reality, and other new technologies.

1. Get the big picture, then get creative

Many people look at new technology and see an iffy proposition or even a potential fad. However, more often than not, it shows where industries are headed. Companies that experiment with the best technology available today ensure long-term success by finding new ways to improve business and attract customers.

Seek the bigger picture in emerging technology. For example, the abundance of experiential AR and VR technology demonstrates the importance of experiences for consumers. Apple’s Quick Look feature, for example, makes it easy for customers to check out products in augmented reality. without physically touching the product. In fact, a variety of retailers, including Wayfair and Home Depot, are using this feature. Some go a step further to include spatial audio, offering the potential for a more immersive customer experience.

Those interactive experiences delight consumers, and that’s the big lesson. Once you understand what connects with customers most about emerging technology, you can get rudimentary and creative. Experiment to deliver what matters most and enhance your offerings in the best possible way.

2. Look ahead when incorporating product features

By embracing emerging technologies , it is essential to have clear objectives in mind. Several years ago, for example, I saw wireless charging in action for the first time and immediately started thinking about how it could fit into our own products, like our new SmartDesk. It was a feature that no one had been asking for yet, but it became a major selling point once implemented.

When looking for new technology, consider how it could contribute to existing products or help create something new and fresh. For example, 5G is still in its relative infancy, but companies developing IoT (Internet of Things) products, wearables, and smart devices should already be thinking about rolling it out into new and existing offerings for better connectivity and new features. .

Related: Virtual reality is about to change your business

3. Boost team productivity and individual workflow

According to a Microsoft study, of the average 45 hours employees worked per week, 17 were unproductive. This is a problem for employers and employees, neither of whom want so much time lost. It’s also a problem that has only gotten worse recently, with more people than ever working remotely.

However, not everyone has encountered the same problems. Companies that have already implemented AR and VR are better equipped to facilitate collaboration and even empower employees without having to be in the same space. Mercedes-Benz, for example, adopted Microsoft HoloLens for employee training in 2018, meaning staff were already well-prepared to train in a remote environment.

Emerging technologies such as AR and VR systems can eliminate the distance between employees and create an immersive environment that allows them to collaborate, experiment, train and work with products without even being close to each other. The potential of advanced technologies to improve productivity is significant, as long as leaders are willing to try.

The year 2020 was undoubtedly unpredictable. But the best performing companies had already been preparing for a future that was coming faster than anyone expected. Now is the time to invest in AR and VR technology that can help engage customers and keep teams together in the present while preparing for whatever the future holds.