Briefing: Augmented reality

November 13, 2017



It’s reality magnified. How augmenting our experiences of the world around us can bring industries unexpected benefits.

First there was virtual reality (VR), a technology that generates images and sounds so realistically, users are transported to alternative settings that can immerse them in a “reality” of their own choosing. Conversely, augmented reality (AR) provides an experience of one’s actual environment with some elements of that environment augmented by computer-generated sensory input, such as sound, video, graphics, or location data. While VR creates a simulated immersive world, AR technology adds new layers of information to what is real.

Several industries have discovered ways to use AR to their commercial advantage outside of its traditional use in the world of gaming. AR can offer just-in-time information for workers in maintenance, marketing, customer support, and other sectors.

In manufacturing, AR enables workers to more easily identify ways to enhance product design. In retail, it helps employees engage with customers more efficiently, improving consumer satisfaction. AR-enabled smart glasses help warehouse workers more precisely fulfill individual orders. Airline manufacturers use AR to assemble parts faster and with more accuracy. Electrical workers are able to make repairs quicker and more efficiently.

Of the companies that participated in PwC’s 2017 Global Digital IQ Survey, 10 percent say they are currently investing in AR. Twenty-four percent say they will invest in the technology within three years. Considering the growing current interest in related technologies, that percentage could rise significantly with time. Aerospace and defense, as well as software and internet/information technology companies, are early adopters. Executives at consumer banks, airlines, engineering, construction companies, retailers, and wholesale and distribution firms are among those that say they will be investing in AR within three years.

Featured augmented reality content

In our curated exploration of how company leaders are using AR technologies to enhance different industries, we provide a comprehensive view of the state of the technology and explore relevant news and trends. Bookmark this page, and check back regularly for additional insights.


Chris Curran

Principal and Chief Technologist, PwC US Tel: +1 (214) 754 5055 Email

Vicki Huff Eckert

Global New Business & Innovation Leader Tel: +1 (650) 387 4956 Email

Mark McCaffery

US Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) Leader Tel: +1 (408) 817 4199 Email