Amazon recently published a patent that demonstrates augmented reality’s potential for solving business problems. The patent, “augmented reality assisted deliveries,” is for an application that relies on an AR headset to communicate to Amazon package delivery agents with the best times, routes, and parking locations, and more to facilitate speedy delivery of packages.

The Business Problem

Here’s the business problem, according to the patent: “Experienced delivery agents often learn information about the delivery routes and delivery areas that is not reflected in a delivery route generated by a routing application.” In other words, the delivery route doesn’t always contain crucial information that would help the agent do an efficient job, such as the best place to park in order to help an agent deliver and leave in the fastest way possible or where to leave the package when there’s not a doorman present.

The Solution

As reported in GeekWire, AR would help solve the problem as follows:

  • According to the patent, computer servers would keep track of where the agents are and where they are headed.
  • As agents make their rounds, useful delivery tips (such as ideal parking locations) inputted in a data base by other drivers (based on their own experiences) would be routed to drivers via AR headsets. As noted in GeekWire, “You could even have the location of the key box flash on and off as you’re looking at the entryway to an apartment building.”

The patent itself contains far more detail on how the AR interface would work.

My Take

The Amazon patent demonstrates an essential truth about immersive realities such as augmented reality, mixed reality, and virtual reality: immersive reality can achieve real breakthroughs by fueling business growth through the creation of lovable products/experiences centered on different user groups. Here we can identify two user groups:

  • Primary user group: delivery agents.
  • Secondary user group: end customers.

In the example of the Amazon patent (a design, not quite a product just yet), Amazon seeks to use AR to support product delivery to customers to ensure their customers have a great end-to-end experience with the brand: browse, order, and deliver — and we know efficient delivery is a key competitive advantage that brings customers back to Amazon.

A solution like this could greatly affect the delivery agents in a positive way — by minimizing the time it takes for them to re-route or figure out where the actual drop-off location is (think operational efficiency) without having to search a four-flat apartment in Chicago or lose time finding a coach house.

Consider also, the potential impact on the secondary user group, end customers. They could receive packages with a more accurate estimate of the delivery time, and the drop-off location would be more consistent and reliable — think customer satisfaction (and yes, I have found packages on my back patio and wondered why a business felt that my back patio was the optimal place to leave my package).

The AR product could potentially provide a lovable solution for multiple user groups within the Amazon value chain: the company (Amazon), delivery agent, and consumer. I challenge other companies to think of ways that you can apply innovation to create a lovable product for multiple user groups across your business’s supply chain or product.

The Big Picture

As we look across some major retailers like Alibaba and Walmart, we see a considerably greater patent investment from Amazon and Alibaba. This finding leads us to believe these companies are working on new ways to connect brands and products to consumers and innovate on their overall value chain. However, knowing that these two global companies, in particular, have been known to expand and disrupt other industries, I don’t think it would be too big of a leap to see them venture out into something new using some revolutionary technology.

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In addition, the application demonstrates that we’ve barely begun to apply technology to really change the supply chain. We recently blogged about how blockchain can make supply chain management a more sustainable process. The supply chain is ripe for innovation. In fact, supply chain can be a catalyst to change the global economy. Amazon is a perfect candidate to drive this change. The company has become a major delivery giant with its own self-contained ecosystem. It is a bellwether company that, like Walmart, uses its scale and muscle to effect change.

Create Lovable Immersive Reality Experiences Tied to Business Outcomes

Immersive reality is gaining ground fast in many industries from entertainment, AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction), to retail and many more. But many businesses are struggling to define use cases for immersive reality and to budget accordingly. At Moonshot, we understand these challenges. We have created specific activities to identify the right use case(s) and assist in the digital strategy roadmapping that will help business decision makers feel confident about innovating and bringing new product ideas to life. To understand how to apply mixed reality to solve business problems, contact the Moonshot team!

Mark Persaud

Mark Persaud

Practice Lead, Immersive Reality