Augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) aims to provide supplemental technology and data to improve the user experience for a task or product and has found many uses in both the consumer and industrial markets. AR is dependent on supplemental devices (wearables, phones, headsets) to render and display information, which enable a user to view the real world with an added overlay.

AR is distinct from Virtual Reality (VR) which is designed and used to re-create reality within a confined experience. AR shares many traits with “Mixed Reality” which aims to merge AR and real life interaction so as to blur the boundaries of our digital and physical world.


  • Virtual objects that create another level of interaction with a user that could not be experienced from the physical object alone
  • Connects and overlays relevant information from the user's given ecosystem (other users, location, landmarks, etc.)
  • Enhances visualisation of a real-world environment
  • Requires output device or a headset for further immersion

AR in practice

A Swiss-based firm is using augmented reality technology to develop holographic navigation systems for the connected car. The company applies the principles of aerospace technology to land navigation, overlaying the physical world seen through the vehicle windshield with driving directions, traffic information and more. 

Manufacturers can use AR headsets to provide line-of-sight information to workers for a variety of tasks including wind turbine wiring and warehouse picking. A mega electronic manufacturer saw productivity improvements of more than 30% when workers began using the devices. Wearable AR devices reduce errors by providing explicit guidance overlaid and in context of the work being done, and also speed repairs because workers don't need to step away to review an instruction guide.

AR can be used to overlay useful information on maps, such as delays, routes, events, and more, by pointing a phone or other mobile device at it. For example, the iPhone app Tunnelvision overlays information for users who point their phones at a New York City subway map. The app provides information such as how crowded a station is likely to be and where trains are as they travel along the lines.

Contact us

Dick Fong

Partner, PwC Hong Kong

Tel: +[852] 2289 1986

Chun Yin Cheung

Partner, PwC China

Tel: +[86] (21) 2323 3927

Akihiko Katayama

Director, PwC Hong Kong

Tel: +[852] 2289 6490

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