3 Reasons Why Augmented Reality Is Paving The Way For A Greener Tomorrow

Sustainability remains a trending topic in 2022. On the back of COP26’s global call for net zero in 2050, both consumers and companies continue to change their practices in order to address their carbon footprints.

In fact, 32% of average consumers are already on board with adopting a more sustainable lifestyle as the globe moves towards a greener future.

(Image Source: Statista)

Gen Z and Millennials, in particular, are one group tipped to lead the way forward in terms of an eco-friendly tomorrow. With over half of the younger generation focused on reducing their plastic waste, buying local and avoiding fast fashion, brands need to step into line if they want to see success in an eco-friendly market.

The question is, could technology take sustainability one step further? In a post-pandemic landscape, where Covid-19 pushed digitalisation into the mainstream, could new technologies on the market be the key to sustainable success?

From AI revolutionising the corporate sector to new machine learning programs automating wasteful processes and speeding up the supply chain, technological innovation has the potential to transform an unsustainable planet.

One of the key contenders in the race to go green is augmented reality. Alongside its virtual reality counterpart, AR’s ability to immerse, train and trend is being tipped by experts as a tool for conscious consumerism and a solution for supply chain efficiency.

Gartner defines AR as the “real-time use of information in the form of text, graphics, audio and other virtual enhancements integrated with real-world objects.” Augmented reality immerses its users within an enhanced version of reality, transforming the shopping experience, working experience and much more.

Here are three ways AR could potentially shape the future of a green tomorrow.

Enhancing Sustainable Branding

Did you know that two-thirds of consumers want to know more about ethical working practices and the manufacturing process before purchasing from a new brand? A recent Deloitte study found that over half of all online shoppers care about sustainability when picking between competitor sites, and are willing to pay more to go green.

Many brands are now using AR to enhance their sustainable branding after 34% of consumers revealed that a lack of information was the factor stopping them from purchasing from an ethical company.

From AR-infused filters on social media to implementing an immersive QR code on product packaging, buyers can learn more about a brand’s green initiatives.

The banana brand Chiquita is leading the way forward with its newest AR infused eco-friendly initiative. 

(Image Source: Chiquita)

Allowing buyers to scan a code on their product’s stickers, consumers can engage in an immersive experience that demonstrates the banana's sustainable journey, from sustainable plantation all the way through to the eco-friendly supply chain.

Sending Supply Chains Green

AR is also streamlining the manufacturing process. As an industry that continues to add to heightened CO2 emission levels, lengthy supply chain processes can be detrimental to the environment. 

This is where AR steps in. On the back of the e-commerce industry growing over a third in response to Covid-19’s push for digitalisation, both shippers and suppliers are feeling the effects of increased consumer demands.

AR aims to streamline the supply chain. From automating repetitive roles to boosting production and picking efficiency by immersively training and guiding workers, speeding up the supply chain reduces the stress on resources and ensures less waste is produced during the process.

Better still, manufacturers can use AR and VR support to train new recruits and improve the onboarding process. Utilising an immersive environment, new recruits can be trained up in record time, while also shown how to improve sustainable practices in real time.

The German logistics firm, DHL for example, is using AR to improve the supply chain picking process. Utilising the power of smart glasses, workers are able to be guided across the warehouse floor hands-free as AR-infused tech offers visual support when locating and shelving items. In response, the vision picking programme has improved supply chain efficiency and significantly reduced human errors that hold up the process and create unnecessary waste.

Educating the Future Generation

Last but not least, AR can be used to educate a future generation on the importance of sustainability. Utilising its ability to immerse an audience in order to boost engagement surrounding the topic, augmented reality has quickly become a great teaching tool for the sustainable warriors of tomorrow.

From immersive applications and virtual demonstrations to digitalising the classroom, there are a number of new AR-infused initiatives that aim to educate consumers on the importance of environmental protection in a format that aspires to get the viewer thinking about their own unsustainable habits.

For example, Time Magazine used augmented reality in a recent sustainability-focused initiative called Inside The Amazon, which aimed to generate more awareness surrounding the endangered forest.

Using the magazine’s mobile app, users were able to be immersed within a replica of the Amazon rainforest which slowly deteriorated in front of them as the effects of deforestation played out. 

As we move into an immersive future, education, e-commerce and supply chain efficiency are just the starting points for AR transformation. As the globe continues to automate its processes, COP26’s promise for a net zero 2050, could definitely be on the cards.