AR, an emerging technology that blurs the line between virtual and physical environments, is revolutionizing how businesses and people interact with their environment. Though still in its early stages, AR promises to revolutionize how companies serve customers, train employees, design products, manage value chains and more.
Educators and students are utilizing AR in a variety of educational settings. In the healthcare industry, for instance, students and clinicians are using AR glasses to practice surgical procedures like central venous catheter placement. These glasses create an immersive learning environment so students can practice their skills while keeping their patients safe.
The rise of AR technology is having a major impact on retail and entertainment. Brands use AR to give customers an interactive shopping experience, allowing them to try out products and colors before they commit. Furthermore, AR can enhance customer experiences at stores while increasing brand loyalty.
Marketers face a major hurdle in implementing AR: the seamless merging of physical and digital spaces. It can be especially challenging to integrate AR into public places where users need to navigate between them. Fortunately, there are solutions available for this issue.
Though some researchers have studied the influence of AR on learning, few have focused on its potential to assist people in navigating physical spaces. This area requires further investigation from both scholars and practitioners who aim to develop more effective solutions.
Affordances of AR for Interior Spaces
The advantages offered by AR can have a major impact on how building occupants engage with their buildings, as well as architects and designers when designing these spaces. Our study, which focused on students using an AR-app to explore an experiential building, organized findings into four categories: technological affordances (contextuality), hidden affordances (discoverability), communicative affordances (hybridity), and imagined affordances (temporal interactivity).
Technological Affordances of Contextuality
Survey questions linked to specific spatial locations allowed participants to uncover tacit knowledge about the building and resources. They could then explore design strategies such as exposed systems, spaces for mental restoration, or adjusting lighting settings to promote wellness during everyday building use.
When asked what they enjoyed about the AR experience, several participants noted that it spurred them on to use building features they hadn’t considered before. Sharon mentioned how it inspired her to reimagine how her classroom space can be tailored for mental restoration – she changed up her desk arrangement and relocated it elsewhere in the room as a result of this insight.
She found it beneficial to have all of the space information and her responses to survey questions stored within the AR-application, enabling her to “see through” it to the building. This feature made her interactions with the application more comfortable even when she was alone in a public space.