Imagine grocery shopping with a set of glasses that directs you to your preferred items on the shelf, or repairing your car with help from an expert technician who virtually comes into your garage to walk you through the fix. Imagine visiting the Louvre Museum in France with your kids, without ever setting foot on an airplane. These are just some of the possibilities of Augmented Reality (AR), an industry that’s projected to reach $7 trillion by 2027, with nearly $50 billion in expected revenue by 2021.
What exactly does the future hold for AR and how will it impact your day-to-day life and our economy? Below are 7 predictions for the future of AR, supported by the ideas of industry-focused thought leaders who are also watching the AR market with much anticipation.
Your Mobile Phone Will Become Even More Pervasive and Social
According to futurist Charlie Fink, AR will make things we already do on our handheld devices better and more social, with the camera becoming the primary mobile interface. He predicts that there will be AR and VR capability in almost all of our devices.
Apple’s new ARKit, an easy-to-use developer kit for AR applications and software, lets developers place a virtual world on top of the real world viewed by your smartphone’s camera. There already are some incredible examples of ARKit designs, from virtual storybooks that literally come to life in your child’s bedroom, to a virtual measuring tape app, to this application in maps that will make you wonder if you’ll ever get lost again. It’s clear that AR is primed to enhance the mobile tools we use every day.
Gamification Will Permeate the Workplace
AR first gained success in the gaming world (recall Pokémon Go), and now is becoming mainstream. With this shift comes an opportunity to incorporate interactive, achievement-driven play into the workplace. Companies can boost employee motivation and morale by linking rewards such as gift cards or paid time off to sales goals or customer service targets, all packaged within an interactive AR world.
Ecommerce Will Be Redefined
AR will let consumers try on, experiment with and visualize the items they’re considering for purchase in an entirely new way, by merging the experience of shopping in a brick-and-mortar store with the convenience of shopping online. And according to a 2016 Retail Perceptions report, consumers are looking for that AR experience.
According to digital retail expert Nikki Baird, managing partner at Retail Systems Research, AR is a great tool for:
- Showing consumers what products look like in their home as in this IKEA example.
- Answering “what does it look like on me?” with tools like Memomi’s high-end digital mirror.
- Delivering product information and “how to” details for product use, such as BMW’s AR experience test drive.
Product Design Will Become Revolutionary
AR will allow designers to move past simply imagining their product through 3D models, to experiencing the product and its applications, shortcomings and potential, long before they begin to build it. This translates to lower testing and design experimentation costs, greater opportunities for innovation, and ultimately a better product with a lower price tag.
Working Conditions Will Become Safer
Producing consumer goods is at the foundation of our economy, and AR offers the opportunity to make factories, mines, plants and assembly lines safer, more productive and better equipped to handle accidents.
For example, the DAQRI Smart Helmet can collect data and alert workers and operators of unseen anomalies in their environment. With the helmet, workers can collect environmental data to spot a potential breakdown, leak or catastrophe well in advance as well as reduce errors and downtime. And the bonus is that they’ll feel a bit like Iron Man doing it.
City Infrastructure Will Improve
At every level, public sector offices and service providers must maintain huge amounts of data, simulate a variety of hypothetical situations and train first responders on each, and plan and organize communities for efficiency, safety and economy. AR enables city planners, first responders and government officials to move from a blueprint of “what if” to a living, breathing map of experience.