From R rate to AR you rate: how could augmented reality take off in the post-COVID workplace?

Business Insights

Augmented reality (AR) – where digital imagery and text are overlaid across a scene of a real, physical environment – has already proved its worth during the pandemic, when the technology helped many workers to digitise what used to be physically hands-on work, and consequently maintain social distancing.

Shortly before the pandemic, the AR market was projected to surpass $50 billion by 2024, as Immersive Learning News notes. However, this figure could now be an underestimate, given how much promise AR currently holds for the following sectors.


E&T outlines various examples of how AR could be effectively used in an industrial setting. If employees are struggling to set up or operate a specific piece of machinery in a factory, they could be sent work instructions – in AR form – enabling them to resolve the problem step by step.

Meanwhile, service engineers in the field could, using AR, collaborate with headquarters-based colleagues to figure out how to fix a fault only recently uncovered in a customer product.


While you might have already spotted headlines about doctors using Microsoft HoloLens headsets to help treat COVID-19 patients, we can expect AR to remain a fixture of the healthcare sector even once hospitals reach a point of rarely needing to care for people infected with COVID-19.

Surgeons can – before carrying out surgery on a patient – enter MRI data and CT scans into an AR headset to closely analyse this patient’s anatomy. AR can also be used to produce a visualisation of a patient’s heart.


In pre-COVID times, AR was often used to somewhat gimmicky effect at physical events; for example, to put up interactive booths at conferences.

However, many event organisers have transferred their previously in-person functions to the online sphere during the pandemic, and consequently realised what longer-term benefits virtual events could reap.

Consider the example of how Pot Noodle has made a careers fair available for students to attend remotely through smartphones. Even many people currently lacking AR-compatible smartphones could simply click here for a huge array of mobile phones that do have this support built in.


Unsurprisingly, the travel industry has taken a large hit due to travel bans made necessary by the spread of COVID-19. While it could still be some time before overseas travel becomes as routine as it was before the pandemic, AR has at least helped to enhance the appeal of domestic holidays.

For example, it’s now possible for an AR-ready smartphone to reveal – as its rear camera captures mountainous terrain – names of mountains, hills and rivers seen in the viewfinder.


Imagine being able to go to a restaurant and use AR on your phone to see how your plate will look once certain menu items have been piled on it. You could also quickly see on-screen nutritional information for particular dishes you are considering asking the restaurant to serve you.

It’s all very plausible in a post-COVID world where touching the kind of physical menus usually placed on a restaurant table could continue to be discouraged for a while.