Insider’s Look: The Booming AR Industry
Sean: Thanks for joining us today, Tom. It’s a pleasure to be able to talk with you about the present state and future promise of augmented reality (AR).
Tom: Thanks, Sean, great to be here. Always happy to help people get a better feel for the groundbreaking impact AR is shaping up to have on our everyday lives.
Sean: Great. Let’s jump right into it. AR’s a space that’s gained tons of momentum over the past year. At the rate we’re seeing industries apply this tech, it appears we have immense potential and staying power here.
But before we head for the deep end, can you give a brief overview of what we’re talking about when we say AR? What makes AR different from virtual reality (VR)?
Tom: The basic difference between the two is that VR creates a virtual world or space to interact with, while AR takes a real-life space and overlays relevant information to create a more useful experience.
A simple example you might recognize is the yellow first down line you see displayed across the field during televised NFL games.
The digitized scoreboard and sports alerts you see streaming at the bottom of your screen are AR too.
Sean: I think that illustrates the basic concept perfectly. Real life, enhanced.
Speaking of user experience, a lot of AR applications use smartphones or other mobile devices as a platform. Some have suggested this limits AR’s true utility. Are hands-free applications of AR needed to push the industry to the next-level of practical application?
Tom: Yes… and no. Hands-free is ideal for AR tech but not a requirement for future success.
AR is about addition rather than full immersion. AR modifies the user’s visual sense first but can be expanded to use touch and sound senses too.
Google Glass and HoloLens are great AR proofs of concepts for hands-free AR, but these devices haven’t seen a wide adoption due to price point, availability and practicality.
Removing touch interactions by going hands-free essentially removes one of your senses from the AR experience. This limits the simplicity of the interaction for the user.
AR doesn’t need to be hands-free as long as it’s practical and simple for users.
Applications that can achieve this, hands-free or not, will generate a wide adoption rate and drive the mass development very quickly.
Sean: As this occurs, it should make using AR tech in other industries like retail, home design, healthcare, construction, consumer electronics, etc., even more viable, correct?
Tom: Absolutely. We could be at the very beginning of a fundamental shift that affects how multiple industries operate, and the momentum is only increasing. The early advances we’re seeing with current platforms like smartphones, tablets and Google Glass are opening tons of new doors.
Sean: What about software development? We have Apple’s ARKit for developers. Is anyone doing anything comparable?
Tom: Google is right there with Apple and they’re very close to releasing their own development kit called ARCore for Android developers.
Before, developers had to create their own solution for AR development. But now most have both Google’s and Apple’s development kits on-site, even the unreleased prototypes.
It’s only a matter of time before others join the fray.
Sean: Amazing stuff, Tom. Really appreciate the insight into the current state of AR tech.
It’s becoming more and more apparent to me that AR is going to have a huge impact on people’s everyday lives.
From simple tasks at home to the way many of our professions will become immersed in AR enhanced operations it’s clear this is one trend that’s here to stay.
Consumers and industries stand to benefit greatly from this tech and investors will too. You’ll want to keep a close eye on new AR developments.
It’s only a matter of time before the floodgates open.
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