Augmented reality (AR) is expected to disrupt various industries, including retail, logistics, healthcare, law enforcement, defense, and manufacturing.
Listed below are the key technology trends impacting the topic of augmented reality, as identified by GlobalData.
The metaverse is a virtual world where users share experiences and interact in real time within simulated scenarios. Metaverse developers will increasingly focus on AR, allowing the user to see the real world overlaid with a layer of digital content. AR-related technologies, such as SLAM, facial recognition, and motion tracking, will be vital to developing metaverse-based use cases.
Gaming platforms are at the forefront of metaverse development. Epic Games raised $ 1 billion in April 2021 led by Sony’s $ 200 million investment after demonstrating its ability to develop a metaverse within Fortnite. Gaming platforms combined with social media, like Roblox and Facebook, and game creators like Niantic, are also investing in the metaverse.
Mobile AR refers to augmented reality functionalities accessible through applications on mobile devices, particularly smartphones. The existing smartphone ecosystem, consumer convenience with smartphones, and improving the computing capabilities of these devices are the main drivers of mobile AR. The lack of stand-alone, affordable, and compelling AR-specific hardware benefits mobile AR as well. Much of the AR support on the smartphone landscape occurs outside of traditional iOS and Android ecosystems, thanks to social media platforms that support AR, according to ARtillery Intelligence.
ARtillery Intelligence estimates that Facebook’s Spark AR platform was compatible with 1.6 billion devices in 2020, putting it ahead of Apple’s ARKit, ByteDance’s AR Effect Platform, Google’s ARCore, and Snap’s Lens Studio. However, the number of monthly active users for these platforms is significantly less than the number of supported devices, which is mainly due to the current shortage of AR content. However, the integration of AR in applications such as Google Maps, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat will increase the awareness and adoption of mobile AR.
AR-compatible contact lenses are being developed that could make AR a more natural, intuitive, and accessible utility. A combination of voice commands and eye movements would allow the user to see weather and traffic updates or walking directions directly in their line of sight without visible glasses. Samsung obtained an AR contact lens patent in 2016, and Sony moved to the same area in 2017.
WebAR allows users to experience AR content through web browsers instead of using a separate application. In 2020, WebAR supported more than three billion devices, nearly double the combined installed base of ARKit and ARCore, according to ARtillery Intelligence. 8th Wall, Zappar, and Aircards enable WebAR experiences in browsers like Chrome, Edge, Safari, and Firefox.
At the time of writing, most WebAR applications are used for marketing campaigns run by companies such as Coca-Cola, Toyota, EE, Sephora, and Universal Pictures. In 2020, for example, Universal Pictures ran a WebAR campaign to promote the movie Trolls World Tour, allowing users to overlay a map of the troll’s kingdom onto their real-world environment and access face filters that resemble the characters. of the movie.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
AI technologies like machine learning (ML), conversational platforms, and AI chips power most of today’s AR devices and applications. AR developers use ML to improve user experience (UX) by continually analyzing user activities. Apple’s CoreML and Google’s TensorFlow Lite ML frameworks are compatible with ARKit and ARCore, respectively. They allow developers to run ML models to improve object recognition in photos, convert speech to text, and enable gesture recognition. Eye tracking and facial recognition, which are fast becoming standard features on all augmented reality devices, use ML to enhance the user experience.
Virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Microsoft’s Cortana enable hands-free operation of AR devices, which is critical for some use cases, especially in businesses. Efforts are also underway to develop low-power AI chips for AR devices.
The bandwidth limitations of today’s telecommunications networks are a major factor restricting AR’s growth. Non-AR games require latency of less than 100 milliseconds for a satisfactory user experience, while AR games require latencies of less than 20 milliseconds. Therefore, the expected 5G latency of one millisecond should provide great experiences for AR applications, including gaming and live event streaming. There has been a surge in industry partnerships for AR development with telcos eager to get the most out of 5G.
Cloud services are critical AR enablers, allowing developers to process, store, and analyze their AR content and consumer data. AR content is stored on cloud platforms and is available on demand as most AR devices come with limited processing and storage capabilities. This approach reduces the need for high-end processing on the device; however, the distance from the device to the remote server and network latency can inhibit the flow of content.
Cloud services offer developers the ability to stream augmented reality content from cloud platforms to end-user devices over low-latency 5G networks. Google’s Cloud AR, for example, offloads the computing power required to display large 3D files to remote servers and edge networks and streams the 3D content to AR devices using Google’s Scene Viewer tool. Most cloud service providers offer artificial intelligence tools for application developers to analyze user trends and develop products.
The future of work
AR will be a key technology in the future of work, with visualization that involves the use of images or graphics to convey information or communicate messages. Many workers are required to aggregate, analyze, and interpret large amounts of ever-changing and expanding data.
AR headsets and AR smart glasses are already used to access online environments, such as Spatial’s collaboration platform, which enables workers to use 3D avatars in a virtual workspace. Today, AR is used in industries such as logistics, automotive, and semiconductors for tasks including warehouse management, maintenance and repair, collaboration, and training.
This is an edited excerpt from Augmented Reality (AR) – Thematic Research report prepared by GlobalData Thematic Research.