Augmented Reality , Manufacturing , Digital Transformation , Training , Pharmaceutical

11 Applications of AR in Pharma

AR or Augmented Reality is the biggest technology trend these days. AR technology provides a real-world experience live in front of us through enhanced computer-generated perceptual information. Today, AR is not limited to just the gaming world. Many other industries are also leveraging AR to gain in their businesses.

The concept of AR is also paving its way into Pharmaceutical Industry. Even before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, AR technology was helping firms to break communication barriers, easily illustrate complex concepts or structures and provide enhanced learning experiences in the pharmaceutical industry. However, the pandemic has increased the pace of adoption of AR technology in the industry. Today, AR is helping Pharmaceutical companies to transfer the knowledge of new products in more innovative ways and helping them gain a competitive edge in the industry.

AR App on Ipad

Augmented Reality in Pharma (Source Random42)

Pharmaceuticals Companies use Augmented Reality technology not only for their employees but also to interact with their customers.  It helps customers gain complete information on the product properties, competitor product properties, and other relevant data about the product that the company is describing. 

An example of AR technology used by a Pharmaceutical firm could be Dr Reddy Laboratories. They launched an AR-based Mobile Application which helps the firm showcase the unique features of “Bro-ZeDex Cough Syrup” compared to its competitor’s products. 

Let us look at some other applications of AR being used in the Pharmaceutical Industry.

1.) AR helps in Reducing Training Time and decreasing Human Intervention

AR technology has become an effective and valuable tool to provide training regarding new products and machines. Earlier, the learning process of products’ working involved going through lengthy manuals and product descriptions or understanding product features from a superior or trainer. But now, with the help of AR-based training modules that use 3D visual representations, the process of learning has become far more efficient. These 3D representations provide an immersive learning experience to employees, leading to reduced training time and less human interaction.

Hoffman- La Roche uses augmented reality and virtual reality in their apprenticeship program to provide a virtual training environment to its employees. It creates an efficient and sustainable learning environment for newbies who learn and immerse themselves in simulated worlds.

2.) AR helps in Better Recall of Complex Structures

With 3D representations and data visualizations, employees get a chance to delve deeper into the product. They can zoom in, zoom out and rotate the image to gain a 360 degree and complete inside view of the product helping in understanding the composition of the product. Thus, this feature of AR makes it easier to remember the complex structures of products and helps in reducing the existing skill gap.

3.) AR leads to Increased Adherence to Safety Regulations

AR technology also provides the required hands-on experience to employees without exposing them to any kind of risks with the help of training modules. Moreover, AR Headsets also provide a checklist before starting to work on a new product, increasing compliance with safety regulations.

4.) AR helps in Day-to-Day Operations

AR technology helps the workforce in day-to-day operations. Employees in the pharma industry have to work on different types of equipment on a day-to-day basis. With the help of AR, employees can learn technical know-how and step-by-step procedure on how to operate the equipment without referring to lengthy manuals each time they run a new machine. This AR feature makes the complex processes simple to learn and allows workers to learn quickly, reduces the chance of error, and increases overall accuracy.

With the help of AR glasses, AR also makes the product search experience easier in a laboratory. It reduces the product picking and placing time and helps to avoid mistakes.

Takeda Pharmaceutical Company ltd uses augmented reality, virtual reality, and other digital technologies in their laboratories to provide enhanced human-centred interaction. The technology automates repetitive, tiring, and time-consuming tasks, making the entire process effective and efficient.

5.) AR leads to Time Saving

AR technology also helps in saving time in day-to-day operations by reducing the time spent on learning SOPs. SOPs or Standard Operation Procedures are manuals which each worker is required to go through before working on a machine.

In the pharmaceutical industry, often these SOPs are pretty complex and require a lot of time to go through. However, with the use of AR, workers can now access visual guidance for highly technical steps within SOPs, which were earlier difficult to follow on paper-based SOPs. Because of AR and virtual guidance, supervisors don’t need to train the employees. AR technology thus saves a lot of time that was earlier spent on training employees.

6.) AR provides Real-Time Guidance

With the help of AR technology, supervisors can record the process of how to work on a particular machine or what steps need to be followed to complete a specific task. These similar steps then can be followed by the workforce as done by the supervisor. Thus, AR provides real-time virtual guidance to the workforce and reduces the need for human supervision all the time. Moreover, since the steps are recorded and can be easily accessed, this also reduces the chances of error and thus increases operational efficiency.

AR in Training

(Source: Korber)

PTC’s Vuforia Expert Capture is one such technology that is being used by many leading pharmaceutical companies to train their employees. The technology aids by accompanying SOPs leading to more productivity, increased retention time, reduced operating cost, and lesser chances of error. 

7.) AR helps in Product Demonstration

AR helps to showcase the product, product prototypes, and various complex structures in actual size. Thus, AR technology allows companies in the pharmaceutical industry to easily demonstrate their products without carrying the product at different places, especially in events and conferences where AR can help capture audience attention through immersive product demonstrations.

This ability of AR technology is quite beneficial these days when digital communication is widely accepted owing to the covid-19 pandemic. Due to lockdown and travel restrictions, the need to demonstrate products easily to customers in an understandable manner has increased. This is precisely where AR steps in and makes it easier for companies to showcase their products from their homes, offices, or other remote locations.

AR in Pharma


Boehringer Ingelheim in 2013 developed an AR-based application to demonstrate the unique features and educate different stakeholders about their new product, “Spiriva Respimat”, an inhaler device innovatively and interactively. The application used 3D representations, animations, and intuitive gesture-based controls to showcase different properties of the device. 

8.) AR Speeds-Up the Pharma Sales Process

AR technology has changed the entire marketing process of pharmaceutical products. Pharmaceutical markets do not have a large share of customers, but it usually includes physicians and researchers. With the help of AR, the only tool required by sales representatives is a smartphone or tablet to demonstrate the product. 

AR technology has increased the sales rate in the pharmaceutical industry and has made the process more efficient. Earlier, the representatives would have to travel to give the product demonstrations and wait for a long time for the physician’s time. But this scenario is completely changed with the advent of AR technology. With AR, representatives can conduct meetings from anywhere as per the availability of the physician with the simple use of a smartphone or a tablet. 

Sanofi, while launching its new product Allegra, an allergy relief drug, used augmented reality to engage with its target audience. The technology helped the company to animate the symptoms of the allergy and make consumers aware of the treatment required. The 3D visualizations of “red noses, watery eyes and animated sneezes with droplets on phone screen” helped customers relate and understand the pain of the allergy better, leading to increased sales of the drug-Allegra. 

9.) AR Efficiently show the benefits of new products

AR technology has also made it easier for sales representatives to quickly and effectively demonstrate the features and benefits of the new products to medical representatives. The 3D Visual representation of AR technology allows medical representatives to understand the product better, thus helping them make the right decision. The technology also allows sales representatives to leave a lasting impact in a short time and close the deal effectively.

Bayer Pharmaceuticals, a German Pharma company, developed AR technology in partnership with Pixacore. The company currently uses AR technology to provide an experiential demonstration of its products to health care professionals. The use of AR has increased the rate of engagement of health care professionals from 2 minutes on an average per booth to 10 minutes on an average per booth in conferences and events. 

AR in Pharma training

10.) AR provides Seamless Communication Making Sales Easier

AR technology makes it easier for sales representatives to communicate with potential buyers. AR helps share the required data, trail outcomes, and procedures to be easier to memorize and convey. Moreover, with the help of AR, the exact features or topics could be pointed out for questioning, and discussion could be done around them. Thus, AR enables a highly beneficial element- seamless communication in an industry like pharmaceuticals where there exists a time constraint.

AR in sales


Similarly, Alcon in 2016 developed an AR application to help their sales force sell Alcon LenSx Laser to cataract surgeons. The application helped sales representatives showcase the hyper-realistic, absolute size of the equipment without needing to carry it physically with the help of a tablet. This enabled surgeons to understand the exact space that the machine will take and helped them observe the device from different angles. 

11.) AR helps in Drug Discovery

Another critical area where augmented reality is used in the pharmaceutical industry is the drug discovery and research area. The augmented helps pharmacists to study and understand the symptoms of new diseases more effectively. Pharmacists can also analyze lengthy data effectively in a shorter period using the data visualization abilities of the technology. Apart from this, it also enables pharmacists to rotate and combine virtual molecules to create different prototypes, study their properties and abilities to treat the disease. 

Summing It Up

As Sanjeev Mody, the CEO and Founder of Pixacore, a leading health care agency, once said, “Augmented Reality with the right content and high use case can be very engaging”, similar is the case in the pharmaceutical industry, i.e., if used correctly, the technology can reap tremendous results. 

First, through its ability to represent 3D structures, the technology helps make the training program more interactive, leading to fewer chances of error and enhanced retention power.

Secondly, the technology also enhances the day-to-day working in pharmaceutical industries by providing real-time guidance and eliminating the need to refer to lengthy SOPs leading to increased productivity.

Third, the technology also helps the company in product demonstrations, which can now be done remotely. This ability of the technology is quite beneficial in present times of lockdown and social distancing when the entire world is moving towards digitization. Similarly, the technology also boosts sales by making the whole sales process more interactive and efficient.

Currently, only some companies like GSK, Bayer Pharmaceuticals, etc., have been leveraging AR benefits. This number is expected to grow as more and more companies learn about the benefits of the technology and as the technology becomes more affordable.

In the years to come, Augmented Reality will become an integral part of the Pharmaceutical Industry and will only complement the current methods that are being used.  


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