Augmented Reality Trends to observe in 2021 Part1
AR as an industry, has observed unbridled growth during 2020 — a fact of noteworthy historical interest owing to the COVID-19 pandemic which was wreaked havoc on every single industry, throwing businesses all around the world into a whirlwind; as many businesses have managed to adapt to the changing needs and landscape, many have succumbed to the pressures of the market; AR, thankfully, hasn’t been one of them.
Industry stalwarts such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, and the Redmond-based software and hardware giant, Microsoft, have bet hard on AR technologies, contributing to its explosive proliferation in the market. Based on MarketsandMarkets reports, the estimated value of the AR technologies industry is a staggering 15.3 billion USD. That’s right folks, billion, not million. Let that sink in for a second.
Such large numbers warrant an inquest into the technology as a whole, and what trends within the industry are set to be key drivers as we’ve nearly reached the halfway-point of 2021. Various trends and avenues are set to act as drivers to this nascent industry that is rapidly catching on and threatening to go mainstream. With the establishment of 5G, AR looks set to be a lock in the technological landscape of consumers facilitating never before fathomed experiences, providing unique content to make inroads into the market.
As 2020 drew to a close, AR active devices were predicted to appreciate to 598 million units and is set to appreciate to the 1.73 billion mark by 2024.
Trend #1: AR in mobile – Google ARCore and Apple ARKit 4
Apple has just put out its ARKit 4, the updated version of its open-source AR developmental tools and utilities. Google’s competitor, ARCore Technology has been making significant inroads in helping to keep the industry ahead. Both of these utilities were introduced in 2017, these utilities have assisted developers adapt to the AR market. Owing to increased app compatibility, AR-enabled devices and the customers using them have significantly appreciated.
Over the course of the previous 4 years, Apple has unveiled extra updates to ARKit, like ARKit 2.0 at WWDC 2018, ARKit 3.0 at WWDC 2019, and lastly ARKit 4.0 at WWDC 2020. A few of the latest advancements in relation to ARKit 4.0 consist of location anchors, brand-new depth AI, and enhancements in facial tracking tech. All of these enable Apple’s developers to leverage the technical capabilities of the new iPhone’s LiDAR hardware.
On the other hand, Google’s ARCore has been spearheading innovation with the inclusion of publicly-made Street View photographs. An Android user is only required to have an ARCore-capable smartphone device, and Google will take submissions with regards to Street View Photos. It is worth noting that these photographs must meet quality guidelines, this shows that ARCore has evolved to a point that Google feels certain that smartphones can capture the photographs required to integrate with Google Maps and to use these images in conjunction with photographs captured by more specialist technology.
ARCore is behind ARKit with regards to motion capture, concurrent utilization of back and front cameras, and tracking of a large number of faces. The Apple storefront, in addition, has a larger number of AR-enabled apps in comparison to the Google Play Store, with only a little in excess of 2,000 unique apps present for users to download. ARCore has won in terms of accessibility, though. Why? It’s all a question of market share. Android is more ingrained and well-integrated into the market scenario than iOS, regardless of how much Apple likes to play its marketing trump cards. We ought to hand it to Apple in that this is variable by region, with Apple scoring huge marks on the home front. Apple’s iOS has a greater market share when compared to Android, in the U.S.A., as of 2020. The U.S.A. has always been the home turf for Apple, with the market indicating a huge preference towards iOS right from the get go.
ARtillery Intelligence states that ARKit technology considerably outnumbers ARCore gadgets. In the year 2020, there were 1185 million documented ARKit devices, with ARCore only managing 633 million devices. With regards to active users, a different picture is painted. ARKit holds dominion over 950 million active users, whereas ARCore has a meagre 122 million.
Trend #2: AR within the shopping and retail industries
Providing consumers a digital option has been a critical trend for giants in the retail industry, American Apparel, Lacoste, Uniqlo, Sephora and Kohls are great examples of this. Other retailers have introduced virtual fitment rooms, and this has the unique advantage of furnishing trials to customers from the comfort of their homes. This is of particular significance owing to the fashion in which social distancing policies have impacted retail in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. AR is in pole position to give a solution to this matter.
This isn’t relevant to merely the apparel industry. Furniture industry juggernaut, IKEA, has enabled clients, through its app, to look at what furniture does and doesn’t look good in their own houses with the help of AR functionalities. The potential doesn’t cease at home on client’s mobile phones. During the brick-and-mortar experience, smart mirrors and RFID tags provide new scope with regards to product suggestions to clients.
Such virtual fitment functionalities is here to stay. Its estimated international market is set to appreciate to 10 billion USD by 2027. The pandemic has not stopped retailers from working their mojo, while it has prevented clients from making the trip to brick-and-mortar stores, the benefits, comfort, and increasing mainstream acceptance of virtual fitment room technologies denote that it will stay at the core of the consumer experience for the foreseeable future.
AR has appeared very tantalizing to clients as of late, and this has amplified owing to its enhanced accuracy, precision, and capability to estimate to the physical world. By using lighting conditions surrounding the client, enhanced face recognition, and personalization advice, AR retail experiences are poised to significantly alter the consumer shopping experience.
Trend #3: Using AR for navigation
With increased bandwidth and influence over an interior setting, the benefits provided by AR tech for indoor navigation are obvious. There are a broad range of utilities that can be used to improve this experience at different levels, like Bluetooth beacons, QR codes, and ceiling antennas. In scenarios were a strong Wi-Fi network is already present, Apple iPhone’s AR is adequate to provide indoors positioning by utilizing Wi-Fi RF patterns.
Both ARKit and ARCore assisted apps assist clients with navigating their way through shopping malls, airports, and other indoors locations. In-store navigation has massive benefits to reap from the progression in AR technologies. This can assist clients to identify exactly what they are searching for while shopping in the brick-and-mortar experience.
Google’s AR Live View walking directions with regards to Google Maps has been upgraded since it first went into beta in August 2019. During October 2020, Google made various announcements with regards to numerous features to enhance the AR Live View experience outdoors. Included in these rollouts were the functionality to overlay landmarks and an expansion of Live View by integrating a larger number of cities. Integrating Live View and Google Maps locations sharing is also in the process of release to clients in the near future. Elevation is also considered a critical aspect of the process, which enhances Live View’s performance in elevated regions like San Francisco.
ARKit 4 Apple has released a capable tool for outdoor AR navigation referred to as Geo Tracking, which uses street view to determine the ideal positioning.
Trend #4 – AR’s reliance on AI
AI has a significant role to play within the scope of AR. There are huge expectations put on AR-related software, and these cannot rely just on manual programming to display digital objects in a real-world environment. Neural networks and ML can achieve these with increased efficiency and can enhance AR experiences significantly.
ML and AI are not functional without a crack team of data science engineers. Analysis and the collecting of training data is critical for the effectiveness of an ML program developed to be compatible with AR software. The engineers are also required to meticulously fine tune and provide optimization to the models prior to integration and deployment.
AI can also function in a support role in conjunction with AR. For instance, automated suggestions can be provided to brick-and-mortar shoppers at retail locations with the help of AR experiences on their smartphone device. These suggestions would be enabled by AI-chatbots driven by Natural Language Processing (NLP) technologies.
Research from Delloite has come to the conclusion that AR and AI will revolutionize the conventional healthcare business models by providing AR-MR enabled hands free tools and AI-based diagnostic utilities.
Trend #5 – Virtual Manuals and Remote Assistance
A meagre 7% of the working population in the U.S.A. can avail telework options, 37% of U.S.A.-based jobs have the prospect of being doable through telework. In the opinion of the Brookings Institution, however, about 50% or ½ of working US adults are working from home. This is a huge difference. Notwithstanding any other fact or statistic, it is obvious that teleworking options have gained considerable traction in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Brookings Institution also estimates that present trends in the telework space will persist long after the pandemic is over and done with.
Due to the proliferation of telework, innovative solutions are required to keep up the efficiency of particular vocations that previous operated primarily in-person. IT repairs is a brilliant example. AR can enable IT specialists to provide assistance to clients with the utilization of on-screen prompts and directions. As the client aims their smartphone camera to a device in need of maintenance, the specialist can manipulate over the screen to show the clients specific points of interest.
Remote assistance with the help of AR experiences can be developed with WebRTC. This has provisions for both parties to be connected to the other and view the same AR experience through a peer-to-peer connection. This is vital to ensure that video is delivered in real-time with no issues caused on server loads.
AR-based virtual user manuals furnish information on an automobile dashboard, or provide employees insights into the shop machinery.