Companies like Apple and Google are investing huge amounts of capital into Augmented Reality, or AR . The Pokemon Go craze of July 2016 was a taste of how AR can impact our lives. But will AR really change our lives that much? Does AR have the potential to be a transformational technology that totally reorders how we live?
I reached out to 39 experts on AR to share how AR can change our lives. Here are the ideas they shared.
1. Digital Twins Will Help Companies See Problems — and Opportunities
According to Timo Elliott, Innovation Evangelist at SAP, “Digital twin technology which uses detailed virtual 3D models and AR will revolutionize the way companies understand customer needs, continuously improve their products and services, and identify new business models. For example, when an employee at an energy company with wind farms in Norway detects a problem, she can put on a pair of VR goggles, “visualize” the issue, and fix it using digital twins — no need to send a repair team into the field. Coupled with other technologies such as artificial intelligence for image recognition, companies can optimize the creation, monitoring, and maintenance of complex systems. Digital twins will become a part of daily operations in areas as diverse as building maintenance to monitoring patients with heart disease.”
2. AR and Mobile Based Contextual Information
“One of the ways AR will challenge the world around us is mobile-based contextual information, leveraging the vast network of Internet-connected mobile devices in the world today. Mobile AR systems are innovative and noteworthy because it transforms the user experience in real-time. It takes any situation, and environment to the next level by incorporating a user’s contextual cues generated from sensors without a manual search.Because of this complexity, there may be challenges to mobile devices being able to process the technology required to power it. We imagine this playing out in the next 5 years or so.” — Vishwa Ranjan, Head of Augmented and Virtual Reality at Infosys
3. AR changing the way families play together
It’s nearly impossible to escape the debate of screen time for children. For years, it has been an ongoing concern — adults thinking kids today are onscreen, leaving the “real world” behind. Now, we’re at the early stages of rethinking the split attention between play spaces, to push beyond use of a traditional 2D screen and find new ways to get our digital kids up and active. This is the real challenge today… How can we create immersive experiences that have physical and digital intersect seamlessly? AR is positioning itself to be a daily reality for the mainstream consumer, and, if you watch the patents, there’s a big push towards AR Glasses, arguably the next great leap in wearables. This will change the way we think about mobile as an object in our hand to an action and mindset for both parents and children to play outside together in story-driven, location based games. — Erin Reilly, CEO, Reillyworks | Founding Member of USC Annenberg Innovation Lab
4. Access to just-in-time information, anytime, anywhere.
Michael Martoccia, Immersive Strategist and lead associate for Booz Allen Hamilton, shared these thoughts about how augmented reality (AR) and other immersive technology will change the world:
Augmented reality (AR) technologies will give us access to just-in-time information, anytime, anywhere.
These technologies will empower people to time travel into the past from anywhere using a simple headset or other immersive device, enhancing educational and travel experiences.
AR will enhance a person’s perception of reality, with the ability to alter views to delete or add data, scenarios and other elements of sight and sound.
And, “what you see is what you get” will become the new norm for shopping as consumers can see and demand purchase anything at any time, everywhere.
5. AR will revolutionize management in every industry
AR will transform how supervisors do their job, in any industry, according to Simon Wright, an AR/VR developer at Genesys. Imagine supervisors walking the floor with a fighter pilot-style display in front of their eyes. Supervisors can read performance data instantly to help employees with difficult issues, or identify employees who are falling behind. This AR pinpoints problem issues in real time and shows a supervisor where to devote time and effort for the best outcomes. This AR will give supervisors observational and analytical “superpowers” at the same time.
6. Replacing User Manuals with Real-Time Instructions via AR Apps
“Augmented reality is primed to make product manuals obsolete. Paper manuals require interpretation of words and graphic illustrations. AR programs, enabled either through headwear or smartphones, will recognize objects and overlay text and/or video instructions. AR glasses will provide the best experience of this, allowing for hands-free, real-time instruction viewing in line with user action. Early use cases for this will include LEGO-like toys, and IKEA-like build-your-own furniture.” — Dr. Yue Fei, CTO of uSens, a Silicon Valley-based creator of gesture-tracking software and hardware for AR/VR applications.
7. AR: The Challenge of Application and Implementation
AR is a technology not only looking for a range of killer applications but also for a killer method of implementation before it can be a ubiquitous part of everyday life.
As simple as it may seem a true winner for AR applications could potentially be the utility functions that we currently rely on our mobile devices(phones and tablets) and PC’s to perform, everything from messaging, to shopping, to navigation. The challenge for AR is to allow us to perform these tasks better and in a more convenient manner than we can on a mobile device and a PC.
Are wearables the answer? A lot of work is going into AR based headsets and smart glasses but may not be the solution for always on AR accessibility. There are already experiments in AR based contact lenses but this presents difficulties in how to provide a power source to them when they are in situ on the eye? But if this issue can be resolved then this may well be the answer to establishing always on consumer augmented reality. — Michael Boreham — Futuresource Consulting
8. AR’s Change Potential in Payments and Retail
“As AR technology crosses the threshold from innovation to maturation, it will shake up customer experience and the retail industry as we know it. AR enables a wider range of payment authenticators that can be used in regular rotation to confuse fraudsters. An end-user anticipating a retina scan to confirm identity or payment validity, for example, might be prompted with a voiceprint or hand motion instead.
“This concept of ‘adaptive authentication’ is ideal for high-profile and high-risk transactions, when an anomaly might be detected. As developers and merchants face growing demand for enhanced experiences in an age of consumerism, strong two-factor authentication will soon be the new norm. Private data transferred over this technology can be protected with several existing transaction controls, including point-to-point encryption, tokenization and 3DSecure.
“From a convenience perspective, any opportunity to reduce friction at the customer authentication stage of a transaction is a positive one for generating more business. High-friction access points can interrupt the consumer’s entertainment or shopping-cart experience, resulting in slower decision-making and reduced sales.
“While we are still in the theoretical and prototype stages of rolling out this technology, all signs point to AR transaction authenticators becoming the norm with time.” — Seth Ruden, Principal Fraud Consultant, ACI Worldwide
9. Pre-visualization of Purchases
Howard Tiersky, CEO of Digital Transformation Agency FROM highlighted that Pottery Barn and other furniture retailers have created tools that allow you to envision your empty room filled with virtual furniture from their catalog, so you can determine which pieces fit work together work in your home. Similarly, Glasses.com allows you to try on different frames on your own “virtual face.” From previewing potential cosmetic surgery to taking a walk through a not-yet-built private jet or yacht, the power of visualization is almost limitless and will enable consumers to make better and more confident decisions.
10. The next big evolution in Communication: AR enabled 3D Avatars
Communication has evolved from text to phone calls to photographs to videos. Dr. Pradnya Karbhari, CTO of maskup.me and ex-Google Software Engineer, believes that the next big evolution is realistic 3D avatars of users that mimic expressions to create a personal and immersive experience. Imagine talking to a loved one remotely as if they are sitting on the couch in your living room. The 3D selfie AR technology that Snapchat, Facebook and others like MaskUp have built, married with capabilities provided by ARKit and ARCore, gives us the necessary building blocks to create this immersive 3D environment for communication.
11. Highly Complex Surgeries become Possible & Successful
Technology Futurist, Ian Khan says, Imagine the state of healthcare in the near future. In particular surgeons will be able to conduct the most complex surgeries with the greatest expertise. The reason — they have done it a thousand times before. Yes Augmented Reality will make it possible for niche healthcare professionals such as surgeons to be able to conduct the most complex surgeries in a test environment using AR without any risk on actual patients. This does not mean that doctors today do not practice their skills well. The challenge however is that the time it takes to learn will be massively reduced and will enable a new wave of highly efficient healthcare.
Natacha Rousseau, co-owner at RousseauLinares, is a healthcare and medical technology expert who works with Digital Health companies, says, augmented reality will enable surgeons to perform surgeries without making large incisions because as it stands, AR systems uses CT scans and MRIs to build three dimensional images of our bodies. The system is interactive — so it allows physicians to get a closer view on the parts of the body they are operating on. A surgeon or physician will be able to ‘tag’ or label an organ that needs to be removed or even avoided before the surgery. At the same time, AR will help less less experienced surgeons with complex surgeries because AR will include feedback before and during the surgery. Imagine how useful AR can be for brain surgery where it would be a game-changer to see highly complex overlays and help the surgeon see exactly where and how to operate. Although Augmented Reality is still within its infancy, the really interesting thing about is that it is a precursor to what could become fully automated surgical processes. All in all, Augmented Reality is still way off in the future, but hints at what is possible once we overcome technological and regulatory hurdles. Technology moves quickly, but healthcare is extremely slow moving. Stay tuned!
12. Next Generation Sales: Realtime Sharing Information in the Field
There are broadly speaking, two types of salespeople: One is just that person that can naturally sell anything to anyone, the other knows the product inside out and understands the customer needs: they have the information to make the sale and companies struggle with this. Dr. Abraham Campbell, co-founder at meetingRoom.io, believes that “AR provides this information to an entire salesforce to close faster. AR/VR preserves how a company perceives itself and presents itself to the world. AR isn’t a new form factor but the final display.”
AR allows customers visiting a website to have a sales representative join you at your table.
13. A New Skill-Assisted Workforce Will Emerge
With technology evolution comes a new crop of jobs, which requires a new workforce, says Annie Eaton, CEO of Futurus. Educational institutions are starting to implement curriculum and there are now learning opportunities for augmented reality programming and interface development. These future jobs will not only require strong coding skills but also creativity in designing and implementing a new way we interact with technology. As the existing workforce ages and a new wave of laborers fill their roles, positions will change and nearly all corporate jobs will be digitally focused. Many traditional positions will either be eliminated or changed as workers can now function at a higher level with augmented reality assistance.
According to Toby Barnes, Group Strategy Director at AKQA, AR is one of many forms of technology that will empower us over the next few years, giving us superpowers we only dreamed of. Telepresence is one of those superpowers. When shopping for the perfect pair of heels, a consumer’s main concern is “do they have them in my size?” If they can effectively be in 100 stores all at the same time, fixed inventory becomes a problem of the past. Consumers can look at shoe collections and instantly hide/display the shoes that are in the store in their size, or perhaps be couriered to their home. Connecting inventory to phones, and solving courier and delivery problems will shift stores into a super powered showrooms and experience centers.
15. The World As A Second Screen
According to Brandon Kaplan, Founder of SKILLED CREATIVE, AR will represent a decoder ring for a second layer of engagement, on a deeply personalized level. The ability to enter a retail space, restaurant, or event venue, and access customized AR content that has been produced exclusively for you, will make everywhere you go a personalized event. A friend leaving menu recommendations on the walls of restaurants, retailers having glowing arrows pointing to the clothes they know you will love, or live data visualizations popping up as a health experience when grocery shopping, all delivered through over 500 Million AR enabled mobile devices.
16. AR is changing the retail marketplace
According to Curt Thornton, Chief Operating Officer of Provision Interactive Technology (Provision), “Augmented Reality (AR) was once the stuff of science fiction. But today, AR has become a key ingredient in the retail marketplace. Brands and retailers alike, always looking for emerging innovations to connect and interact with customers, are embracing advances such as holographic technology (like that of Provision). By providing emerging innovations through the likes of holography, AR will provide new access to the market (through new information access points) of potential new customers that may have been intimidated to even consider the product/service. Yet more importantly, AR lends brands the chance to present themselves as leaders of the future.”
17. Engaging and Effective Social Media Campaigns
Will Li, AR expert and the CEO of Apollo Box, says that marketers use AR to engage consumers.
“With AR, we can use interactive marketing campaigns to bond users to products. Apollo Box hosts photo contests where people take selfies with AR characters and products. During these campaigns, we’ve found an increase from 6 minutes to 16 minutes in the average app time session. While people play and take photos with our 3D product models or cartoon characters, they form an emotional attachment to our products and brand,” says Li.
18. AR is the First Step to a World Computer
“Augmented reality is the most easily-identifiable modern technology that will turn our world into a single, interconnected digital machine — a world computer,” said Alex Hertel, CEO and Co-Founder of Xperiel. “We’re already seeing the line between the digital and physical world become fuzzy. We can catch cartoon characters on our phones, receive personal greetings from a Jumbotron at a basketball game by walking past a sensor or get updates on the freshness of our groceries from our refrigerators. By connecting the digital and real worlds together, AR is the vanguard of an interactive, omnipresent, digital future.“
19. Entire industries will become obsolete overnight
We have traditionally navigated the internet via flat 2D screens such as those on desktop PC monitors, laptops, and tablets. According to PostAR founder Michael Park, in the near future AR devices will render many of these products obsolete.
This will result in items like post-it notes, bulletin boards, computer monitors, and HD TVs becoming irrelevant as virtual representations of these items proliferate and cost under $5 to purchase as AR applications. Since it will be possible to project and view a virtual big screen TV through AR glasses, why would anyone spend the time and money setting up a physical monitor?
20. Your Couch Will Finally Fit Through Your Door
Ryan Engle, CTO of Wikibuy and former lead developer of glasses.com’s virtual try-on-application, is interested in AR’s ability to change every day life, like accurately visualizing dimensions. “In the future, people won’t bring their tape measure to the store as they shop for a new couch or TV. With AR it’s possible to see exactly how big an item is before purchasing it.” Engle says. “Furthermore, it’ll be possible to virtually map your space and only view products that will fit within that space, saving time and frustration. AR will finally end the debate around what size TV to buy and if the couch will fit through the door.”
21. AR’s potential to traverse the value of tech 4.0 to Humanity 4.0
According to Michael L. Mathews, CIO and AVP for Innovation at ORU, When education is as engaging and personal as Pokémon Go, society will be transformed and humanity will be on a pathway to accelerated intelligence. Augmented reality will traverse the value of tech 1.0, 2.0, 3.0. etc. by placing the value on humanity/society with a label of 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, etc. Oral Roberts University has created access to 500,000 intelligent learning environments by creating a truly global campus around the world with a $1.2M investment in augmented reality. This innovation paved the way for Nanosizing education into personalized intelligence distributed around the world; with an engaging educational value to humanity and society.
22. Augmented Reality will create new ways for E-sports to engage with fans.
David M. Palacios Ph.D.Founder/CEO Augmenteum, says that Playing an online competitive game is incredibly engaging but watching it…not nearly as much. With AR, you can view video game action in real-time from any point of view as if you were there. Game and player statistics will be viewable in the context of the game itself. In addition, with an AR cloud, everyone everywhere will be connected through a merged reality. Now you’ll be able to interact through holographic interfaces with other fans just like you, no matter where you are, at home, in a bar, or at a stadium.
23. AR Will Converge Business Intelligence (ARBI)
Joe Caserta, President, Caserta, a Data Intelligence consulting firm says “Think Terminator-vision for business. In the coming years we will see the convergence AR and BI to get performance metrics on products. Simply as point a smart device (phone, tablet, glasses, etc.) and the equivalent of facial recognition technology, to identify objects and overlay them with key metrics such as inventory on-hand, recent sales trends, etc. ARBI can also reveal to the general public competing prices and locations. If privacy laws allow, ARBI could be used on actual faces; imagine pointing a device to a sales employee and their image is overlaid with leads generated, attainment-of-quota, etc.”
24. AR will Revolutionize Product Design and Manufacturing
Laron Walker, President of MyStemKits.com, believes that Augmented Reality will transform engineering and product design. Gone are the days of developing products in silos, prolonged feedback cycles, and costly prototype manufacturing.
Augmented Reality will allow 3D modeling software to extend their design surface from the PC to the real world. Modelers will tweak their designs in real time, while also engaging stakeholders for feedback instantly.
Designs will be perfected for fit, form, and function virtually, before being packaged for 3D printing, and other forms of manufacturing. As a result, costs will be lowered, and time to market will decrease.
25. Augmented Reality with Artificial Intelligence to obtain an augmented brain
Antony “Skarredghost” Vitillo, owner of the XR blog The Ghost Howls, envisions that the true potential of AR is exploited when it gets mixed with artificial intelligence and brain computer interfaces. “Artificial intelligence can understand the world that the user is seeing and show him suggestions in augmented reality directly on the objects of interest. Imagine for instance if the glass you’re wearing could suggest you to enter a shop because analyzing its shop window it detects that you may like its articles. It would be incredible. There are already simple but yet interesting experiments in this direction, like this open source project that adds tooltips to objects. BCI could make the fusion between the human and artificial brain complete, with the AI reading and inserting information directly into our brain.”
26. Sensory Enhancement
Jonathan Tustain, director CMO of Freefly VR/AR, believes we have already started to see genuine sensory enhancement in AR. Pokémon GO opened a realm of creatures into our world by overlaying a new reality into our existing one using a medium we can see. The same principle is already being proven for those with sensory impairments: partially-sighted people are helped to see using a high contrast version of what’s in front of them, making edges more visible . Similarly, hearing loss can be tackled by providing visual cues of nearby words and sounds . It’s not much of a reach to imagine breaking into new dimensions using augmented reality, such as through UV light or sonar.
27. AR Will Change How Physicians Train
“Medicine offers some of the most exciting and worthwhile applications for AR. Imagine projecting pre-op MRI scan data on top of a patient on the operating table — to effectively ‘see through’ the patient during surgery. The release of Apple’s ARKit is a game-changer, enabling
us to create a fully-interactive, virtual patient through an immersive augmented reality experience. It also democratizes access to training tools that can improve patient outcomes today. Whether it’s learning new techniques or how to use cutting-edge medical devices, I believe AR will be rapidly adopted as a standard modality for medical training and will improve physician behaviors, decision-making and visual planning skills.” — Sam Glassenberg, Founder and CEO, Level Ex
28. You’ll use your phone in an entirely new way:
Shanna Tellerman, founder and CEO of 3D interior design startup Modsy, believes that with the mobilization of AR through ARKit and ARCore, there will be a massive impact on the way we interact with our phones and the world. It is the first time nearly every consumer’s phone will have the ability to sense the planes in a room and therefore accurately place and scale digital items — like furniture and decor. “I anticipate that there will be very few products that do not in some way take advantage of this feature, overlaying valuable data and visuals positioned through the camera as if they were in the real world.”
29. Augmented reality will transform the narrative of our lives:
Patric Palm, CEO and co-founder of Favro, believes entertainment and shopping will be the first narratives that will be transformed by AR. We got a taste of AR last year when Pokémon GO debuted AR in mainstream gaming. With the iPhone 8 coming out, we’ll see much more sophisticated AR games revolutionize how we entertain ourselves. But not only will AR transform how we have fun, it will also dramatically change how we perform day to day tasks, such as shopping. Retail giants like Walmart and Ikea will begin adopting immersive AR experiences that allow shoppers to use their phones, or mixed reality glasses in a not so distant future, to envision a particular item in one’s home. Once purchased, the shopper won’t carry the item out of the store. Rather, the item will be shipped to the buyer’s home and arrive the same day — maybe even before the shopper even returns home.
30. AR can provide “Matrix-like” just in time training.
Frank Coppersmith, CEO and co-founder of Possum Interactive, believes that we’ll use AR to get smarter, but only right when we need to. “Today we spend enormous sums training employees to deal with unexpected situations,” Frank said. “Looking ahead to the world of AR-enabled devices, we’ll be able to bring step-by-step instructions to users right when they most have to have it.” Need to change a tire beside the road? Just point your phone at the wheel and have context-information displayed.
31. AR and the IoT Potential
“Augmented Reality, as it continues to expand, will benefit greatly from the maturing of the Internet of Things. As we adapt our mobile experience to include augmenting our physical reality with a digital overlay, we will also be able to incorporate a wealth of rich data readily available from electronic sources in our physical surroundings. These IoT nodes will contribute location and device specific information capable of being blended into our spatial AR user experience, expanding and adding real-time relevance to our desired digital interface. We will navigate our day, AR-enabled, in a well-informed and highly personalized manner.” — Mike Dunn CTO MANDT VR
32. AR: The Gateway to Greater Empathy
“There’s been much talk about how VR has the ability to create empathy, but there hasn’t been enough talk about how AR can create empathic experiences. Cognitive empathy is important to change, and related to the ability to imagine the feelings and thoughts of others. As a species, we’re sometimes pretty great at this and sometimes amazingly poor. One AR app has been piloted to create empathy with autistic individuals; another project has been championed to foster empathy with those affected by human slavery. True AR experiences like these will be soon be changing how we live — and how we see others.” — Jeremy Goldman, CEO of Firebrand Group
33. AR will usher in a new age of app culture
“As we progress to AR headsets, mobile phones will become obsolete,” says Elliot Schrock, founder of Thryv, Inc. Elliot expects products like HoloLens, MagicLeap, and the descendants of Google Glass to make iPhones and Android devices unnecessary, but follow in their footsteps. “To maintain users’ security, platform designers will continue to use the ‘app’ model for adding third party functionality. This means much of the functionality end users get from these devices will come from some sort of app store — which is a boon to existing app developers and users alike. As a result, platforms will have to establish uniform UX and UI, to prevent apps from stepping on each others’ toes.”
34. AR an exciting frontier for smart home environments
“AR will have a big impact on everyone’s home,” says Savant CEO Robert Madonna, who has unveiled smart home technology that incorporates AR into home control. Savant TrueImage leverages an augmented reality user experience for lighting control that allows users to interact with images of each room within an app without the need for cameras throughout the home. Simply tap the image of a light fixture to access on/off/dim/color controls and see the image update in real time. Along with voice control, AR is an exciting frontier for control of many connected devices in a smart home ecosystem.
35. AR is already a transformational technology, it’s the form factor that’s the problem.
Di Dang, senior UX designer of XR (VR/AR/MR) at Seattle-based agency POP (www.wearepop.com)
To paraphrase Clay Bavor, the VP of Google VR, the power of VR is its ability to bring the user anywhere. In contrast, the power of AR is to bring anything to the user. This is the potential of AR, though it won’t be realized in the near future through Google’s ARCore or Apple’s ARKit, as these target AR on the phone. The reality is, it’s both physically uncomfortable and socially awkward for users to hold their phone at chest height. And it’s this fundamental problem with the phone form factor that prevents AR from “changing our lives” in the near future. That being said, I fully expect Apple or another OEM to release AR glasses within the next few years. Which means Google and Apple’s AR on smartphone plays are to pave the way for the ultimate ideal form factor for AR. ARKit and ARCore are tests of the underlying use cases for AR, not of AR itself.
NB: Yes, Pokemon Go was massively popular, but keep in mind that users could play it while holding their phone in a (comfortable, socially acceptable) position similar to typical phone usage (e.g., messaging, browsing, etc.)
36. No Longer Fret Litigation
AR can get you in front of a jury of your peers…virtually! Imagine never having to dress up and/ or wake early again to settle a case.
Remi Alli and the Brāv) team is working hard on that starting with online mediation where parties in dispute can have a trained Neutral find an agreement in which all can live with…as opposed to only one party prevailing in court.
37. AR will make hazardous jobs safer
Gary J. Foreman CTO of industrial safety company Nextwave Safety Solution, Inc.:
The ability to expose workers to potentially hazardous environments from the safety of the classroom with the option to repeat whenever necessary demonstrates the value that AR training can provide over traditional practices. However, virtual training is not a direct replacement — more a tool to enhance the existing curriculum and make content accessible to anyone with a smartphone. AR training modules help increase both engagement and retention, delivering metrics that can be tracked and used to improve the efficacy of the overall training program. The ability to provide real time virtual assistance in real world scenarios extends the art of the possible.
38. “Sequencing Experiences” — Projection Of A Deeper Reality
According to Ilya Zaidze, Co-Founder & Creative Director of Genzi.io LA Based Technology Collective AR will influence the way you think & feel about the world by allowing the internet to jump from the screen to the world in front of you. Most people today carry AR devices in their pockets giving users the ability to transform the real world around them with computer-generated data over it, creating unbelievably realistic scenarios. AR has the capacity to tune you in and bring people together through new experiences, amplifying human connection with technology. People’s perceptions are inspiring themselves to think differently. There is virtually no aspect of life that AR will not impact. In a very short time span, this technology has grown rapidly. When new tools like AR emerge, they encompass all kinds of capabilities. To me, it’s all about the user experience (UX); there are many layers that must be considered to create a AR piece.
39. Augmented Reality for Training and Education
Dr. Tim Lynch of Psychsoftpc says- Augmented Reality can be used for medicine, construction, architecture, interior design, fashion, gaming, driving, sports training, meetings, employee training, education and repair, for starters. Employee Training, Athletic Training and Education are very interesting areas. The advantage of AR in these disciplines is that a person can experience situations and live through them virtually. Lessons like this are far more likely to be retained than lectures or reading. And the trainee / student can experiment with scenarios without being exposed to harmful situations because the danger is all virtual. This is ideal for firefighters, EMTs and first responders because they can learn how to react in stressful situations without actually being in these situations.