Is augmented reality (AR) really a thing? It actually looks like it is. All the big names are lining up behind augmented reality so the AR hype is actually looking really exciting.
And augmented reality is actually no longer science-fiction anymore, by the way.
The popular AR gaming app Pokemon Go! didn’t just prove that the augmented reality technology is viable, it also proved that people want to use it.
This means companies will be much more inclined to develop AR applications and experiences. Their inevitability in doing so will lead to the following trends in augmented reality:
- Acquisitions and investments
Those who understand just how substantially AR will change everyday life are already eager to either invest in AR startups, or acquire them. Larger companies like Apple and Google will primarily be responsible for acquisitions, with smaller groups that can’t afford to purchase startups outright making significant investments.
- Google and AR mobile
Google’s partnership with Lenovo on the Tango project indicates the company’s eagerness to develop mobile phones designed specifically for augmented reality applications. They’ll be working to rejuvenate their tarnished reputation after the failed Google Glass endeavor.
- Apple’s approach
Apple has already acquired at least four AR companies, making it abundantly clear that the tech giant is very serious about pushing the potential of this technology forward. Watch for an Apple vs. Google clash as these two go head-to-head in AR technology development.
- Automotive applications
People already use mobile devices in their vehicles to navigate unfamiliar territory, play music, and more. However, looking down at a phone screen is distracting and unsafe. Companies like HUDWAY will change that with AR displays that may be superimposed right onto the windshield.
- AR-influenced smartphones
If Google and Lenovo’s collaboration on an AR smartphone is successful, other mobile phone manufacturers will be interested in developing their own smartphones for augmented reality enthusiasts. While AR wearables are likely to increase in popularity, the appeal for AR on mobile is as an excellent place to first introduce the tech.
- Improved headsets
Headsets are already available, but they’re not quite sleek, convenient, and affordable enough for the average consumer. Just as the first oversized mobile phones were replaced by smaller models, so too will AR headsets become more compact and practical.
- Mixed reality
Mixed reality combines the best of virtual reality with augmented reality, giving users the chance to interact with virtual worlds while still being able to perceive their own. Companies like Microsoft seem confident in its future.
As more developers create AR experiences, they’ll need hardware designed specifically for such applications. Manufacturers will respond to the demand, creating chipsets that are ideal for AR development teams.
- VR’s decline
Although VR can “transport” users to entirely new settings, it’s limited by a key flaw: Users can’t see the real world around them when they’re in a VR world. This presents an unwanted level of disorientation and discomfort that is not present in AR.
- Retail applications
Someday soon, you’ll be able to browse an online furniture store and insert a virtual image of a couch or table into your own living room via your mobile phone, allowing you to see what it would look like in your home before purchasing it. Retailers that focus on this technology now will reap the benefits in the near future.
- Developers in demand
More companies are striving to develop AR products. That means there is going to be much greater demand for qualified developers.
- Improved AR sensors
The ideal AR sensor will give users the opportunity to actually create AR content, instead of relying on an app to provide it. Improved sensors will be the next step in the development of AR products.
- Marketing shifts
Marketers can use AR to significantly increase brand awareness and loyalty. Imagine a marketing campaign which rewards users with coupons or discounts for finding “hidden” AR content in major public spaces. Such applications are not far off.
- Product support applications
Having trouble repairing an appliance or navigating a computer program? Soon, customer support will involve demonstrations via augmented reality, allowing staff members to show you how to solve a problem instead of simply telling you. Basic instruction manuals, too, will come as an augmented reality program that overlays details directly onto the product in front of you.
AR will play a major role in numerous industries, including gaming, retail, and the medical fields. As the technology improves, the ways in which people use it will grow.