How Can UK SMEs Use Augmented Reality for Training Purposes?

March 31, 2024

For years, the line between physical and digital worlds has been blurring. This blending has become possible due to the rapid advancement of technology, most notably, through augmented reality (AR). As business realities evolve, so must the training protocols across industries and sectors. This article explores the possibilities and benefits of using augmented reality for training purposes within the context of SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) in the UK.

The State of Augmented Reality Market

Augmented reality is not a new concept. In fact, it has been around for decades. However, the past few years have seen a significant growth in its usage and application. This is largely due to improvements in technology, especially software, and the widespread adoption of digital services.

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According to market forecasts, the global augmented reality market is expected to grow from $10.7 billion in 2019 to an estimated $72.7 billion by 2024. This sharp increase reflects the fact that more and more companies, including SMEs, are recognising the potential that AR holds, not only in terms of product or service offerings, but also for internal purposes, such as training.

It is worth noting that the market segmentation for AR is broad, encompassing various sectors, from education to healthcare, and from entertainment to manufacturing. As such, the use of augmented reality in the context of training is not restricted to a specific industry or sector.

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Augmented Reality for Training: The Business Case

In an ever-changing business landscape, companies need to stay at the forefront of technological advancements. This is particularly critical for SMEs, which may lack the resources and scale of larger companies.

The use of augmented reality for training offers numerous benefits. Firstly, it provides a more immersive and interactive experience for the user. This can lead to improved engagement and knowledge retention. Secondly, it allows for the simulation of real-life scenarios without the associated risks or costs. Thirdly, it facilitates remote training, which is particularly relevant in the current global context.

It’s important to stress that the implementation of AR-based training does not necessarily require substantial investment. There are cost-effective solutions available, particularly for SMEs. These could range from using existing AR apps to contracting the services of AR software developers.

In a nutshell, the use of augmented reality for training purposes can lead to efficiency gains, cost savings, and improved competitiveness.

The Practical Application of AR in Training

The practical application of augmented reality in training can take various forms, depending on the specific needs and objectives of the company.

In the field of education and training, for instance, AR can be used to create interactive learning experiences. This could involve the use of AR apps that overlay digital information onto physical objects or spaces, thereby adding a new dimension to learning. Such an approach can be particularly useful in areas such as engineering, healthcare, or any field where hands-on training is essential.

Beyond the educational sector, AR can be used for on-the-job training in a variety of industries. In the manufacturing sector, for example, AR can be used to provide real-time guidance to workers, thereby reducing errors and improving productivity. Similarly, in the retail sector, AR can be used to train staff on new products or procedures, without the need for physical demonstrations.

Implementing Augmented Reality in SMEs Training Programs

The implementation of augmented reality in SMEs’ training programs requires careful planning and execution. The first step involves understanding the specific training needs and objectives of the company. This could involve a thorough analysis of the current training methods and their effectiveness, as well as identifying areas for improvement.

The next step involves choosing the right AR technology. This could range from simple AR apps to more sophisticated AR headsets. The choice of technology should align with the training objectives and the resources available to the company.

The implementation of AR should be accompanied by a change management process. This involves communicating the benefits of AR to the staff and providing them with the necessary support and training to use the technology effectively.

Lastly, it’s important to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the AR-based training program. This involves tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), such as engagement levels, knowledge retention rates, and the impact on business performance.

In conclusion, augmented reality offers vast potential for enhancing training programs within SMEs. By implementing AR in a strategic and thoughtful manner, companies can harness the power of this technology to boost their competitiveness and future-proof their operations.

The Future of Augmented Reality Training in UK SMEs

In the next few years, augmented reality training within UK SMEs is expected to experience significant market growth. The adoption of AR in training processes is being driven by its potential to boost efficiency, save costs, improve competitiveness and provide a more interactive and engaging learning experience for employees.

As the global augmented reality market size continues to expand, it’s predicted to reach an astounding $72.7 billion by the end of 2024. North America leads the market, closely followed by Asia Pacific and Europe. However, other regions such as South America, the Middle East, and South Korea are also showing potential for growth.

The benefits of augmented reality software are particularly significant in sectors such as higher education, healthcare, tech, and manufacturing. However, its application is not limited to these industries. The versatility of AR means it’s applicable across an array of sectors.

The market report suggests that as digital services continue to grow in popularity, there will be an increasing demand for virtual reality and augmented reality devices. For SMEs, this means there’s an opportunity to leverage this technology to enhance their training programs. Whether it’s through using existing AR apps or hiring AR software developers to create bespoke solutions, there are a variety of cost-effective options available.

Conclusion: The Road Ahead for Augmented Reality Training

The future of augmented reality training in UK SMEs looks promising. The market size is projected to grow significantly in the coming years, providing vast opportunities for SMEs to leverage this technology to enhance their training programs and help their businesses thrive.

It’s clear that AR offers enormous potential for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of training, regardless of the industry or sector. From providing real-time guidance in manufacturing to enhancing the learning experience in higher education, the applications of AR are virtually limitless.

However, the successful implementation of AR in training programs requires careful planning and execution. Understanding the specific training needs and objectives of the company, choosing the right AR technology, managing change effectively, and monitoring the effectiveness of the AR-based training program are all crucial elements of this process.

By embracing AR, UK SMEs can stay ahead of the curve in the increasingly digital business landscape, boost their competitiveness, and future-proof their operations. As we move forward, it’s clear that augmented reality will play an increasingly important role in shaping the future of training in businesses across the UK and beyond. This technology is not just a trend – it’s a revolutionary tool that’s here to stay.