12 May 2017

FUTURE TRENDS - Augmented Reality to Take Off This Year

Augmented Reality (AR) got off to a slow start.

Although the technology has been available for years, early consumer products were generally disappointing from both a sales and experience perspective.

The Oculus Rift had pre-order shipping delays, the HTC Vive had pre-order cancellations, and Google Glass was a failure with implications for other major developers as well.

But then, Pok√©mon Go. had $600 million in revenue in its first three months, and suddenly people were engaging with AR in ways they hadn’t before.

The app smashed expectations and opened up possibilities.

2017 promises to be the year that AR (and VR) finally starts to reach its potential.

Snap’s Spectacles seem to be succeeding where Google Glass didn’t, and on the Virtual Reality front, Google’s Daydream View is delivering a consumer experience that finally satisfies expectations.

Digi-Capital’s comprehensive overview of the state of AR/VR in 2017 includes the five major hurdles that AR will have to overcome before becoming an everyday technology:
  1. hero device (i.e. an Apple quality device, whether made by Apple or someone else)
  2. all-day battery life
  3. mobile connectivity
  4. app ecosystem
  5. telco cross-subsidization.

Each of these issues presents unique challenges for tech companies who want to be at the forefront of AR market growth.

Battery life is a particular challenge, because consumers need an all-day battery on their AR technology if it’s going to become fully integrated in the way app designers hope.

Smartphones may be the answer to four of these hurdles, since they already provide battery life, connectivity, app ecosystems, and compatibility across telecom providers.

Once the new generation of smartphones are released later this year and in early 2018 - phones with the required sensors and software - what seems now like a significant series of obstacles will become much less challenging.
It’s unclear who will provide users with the “hero device” that Digi-Capital identifies as the critical and unsolved missing piece.

The Google Tango phone is a disappointing piece of hardware with exciting potential, and although it’s the first fully AR phone on the market, it won’t be the equivalent of the iPhone.

However, Apple, Samsung, and others could learn from the faltering first steps taken by Lenovo and Google’s collaboration.

In terms of the apps, there are a lot of exciting AR apps to explore, even with the current crop of smartphones.

One of the fastest growing AR apps is Lumyer, which has particularly taken off in Asia and South America.

The app allows users to augment photos and videos and share the results with friends and family.

Individual consumers aren’t the only growing market for AR technology.

While consumer sales and experiences were slow to build, enterprise was taking advantage of AR for everything from education to plant maintenance and business-to-business sales.

About Tiffany Sostar
Tiffany is a published academic, an editor with the Editors Association of Canada, an independent scholar and researcher, and a self-care and narrative coach. She is particularly interested in the intersection of technology and identity - how our tools shape our selves and change our stories, and in how the nature of work is changing as we incorporate more technology into our daily lives.

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