How AR is turning the travel & tourism industry on its head


Imagine looking into your phone’s display and seeing objects come out at you, or landscapes that do not exist there, but may exist in a different place or existed some time in the past.

Augmented Reality (AR) transport smartphone users to places they have never visited nor may never have a chance to, as it uses cameras and phone screens to bring virtual objects onto real-world landscapes.

The tourism industry is a great example of how AR can be used for purposes beyond gaming, even though gaming is what most people associate AR with. This industry can really show how a company can create compelling software in-house or outsource development to teams worldwide as long as it has a good idea. It also shows how companies from traditionally non-software development industries are finding their niche and a new source of revenue when creating mobile apps for travelers.

There are many examples today of how AR has reached mainstream audiences. This includes a wide range of industries pouring millions of dollars into AR and big companies tapping into it for advertisement and other purposes. Billboards can be spotted in metropolitan cities around the world that ask people to turn their phone’s camera to the image in order to transform it completely.

How Travel & AR Go Well Together

Travel is something we all dream of. Many of us get to do it on a regular basis, but some of us do not and wish we could. For instance, people with physical disabilities who have little means to travel, at least comfortably, would love the chance to see the world. Even though AR is not VR outright and cannot take them to the location with the aid of a head-mounted display, it can augment that travel experience when they get there.

AR is an amazing tool for educational purposes and, in the right hands, a travel app can also teach us around the environment and world from first-hand knowledge. Examples of educational AR apps that can also be used for travel purposes include apps that show us how a place like Rome looked hundreds of years ago with the stalls and streets the way they looked in the past.

These apps are also used by museums and historical buildings, they can show individual rooms exactly as they were at one point or an event that took place in that location. This is great for travel as many travelers are fascinated by a particular place or event and can use these apps to take them back in time.

However, AR for travel is much more than a look into the past. It can be used to guide or aid tourists in their everyday travel. Apps can be used to find the best prices in restaurants as well as their ratings on places like Yelp as they move their phone across these restaurants. Yelp, in fact, has had this AR option for a while and it is called Augmented Reality Monocle. It is a good example of how tourists and travelers can engage in AR instantly as they move around locations.

Mobile Development Knowledge & Creativity is All That’s Needed

From big tech companies like Yelp to startups, companies of all sizes are finding ways to implement AR into their mobile apps. Developers who know how to create mobile apps and are used to working with languages such as Unity or Javascript should have no problem offering great AR solutions.

If a company does not want to devote resources to internal teams in order to create AR apps or has no development experience, consider software outsourcing companies for this task. Often outsourced companies can be very beneficial for mobile development while the main in-house dev team focuses on desktop software or travel accommodations.

The key to good AR software is creativity. AR has for a long time been associated with cheap thrills or gaming. It started out allowing users to do things like take photographs of levels they drew with pen and pencil for a game and the software would implement these levels into the game as virtual objects moving around the screen.

A popular game that made AR truly shine was Pokemon Go on iOS and it became an instant phenomenon when released in mid 2016. It allowed users to travel to real-world destinations in search for rare Pokemon that they captured virtually by using their phones in-hand. It showed how software with a simple idea can truly take off and resonate with mobile users as long as there is good creativity involved and the user experience is seamless.

When it comes to travel, tourists want to do things that make their lives easier and enjoyable while abroad, take advantage of virtual tour guides and avoid the high fees of local guides and save money. AR can make all these things possible with different apps and software potential that may directly target the travel industry or indirectly aid tourists.

Apps Can Be Beneficial for Travelers Whether DIrectly or Indirectly Targeting Them

Yelp with it´s AR features is an example of a mobile app that is not aimed at travelers in particular or tourists from far away countries but can be very beneficial for them and help them save money by finding restaurants with good price ratios and ratings. A very useful app that aids travelers with AR is Google Translate: you can point your phone’s camera to a sign in the street, and you can see the translation on your screen.

An example of apps directly targeting tourists are museum AR apps that offer virtual tour guides. These tour guides benefit the museums because they shorten the line and demand for the on-site guides. They also benefit the users because they can be paused or rewound accordingly to what the visitor is seeing.

If you are into mobile app development, consider adding AR tech into your software. AR is something that can make simple software truly standout from others and modernize a company’s ideas. Tourists tend to have their phones on them at all times and are usually interested in history, geography and other aspects of the places they visit. AR can bring these aspects to them and even inform potential travelers on whether a certain place is worth visiting or not ahead of time.

Written By Maciej Duraj