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Top 5 Augmented Reality Trends 2019

2018 has been an immense year for Augmented Reality (AR) technology. Moving forward into 2019, AR technology will continue to proliferate the enterprise software development landscape and CTO’s will need to establish how AR fits into the existing mix. The past 12 months has seen big businesses experimenting with AR prototypes and proof of concept (POC) projects and 2019 will see many of these fledgling projects mature into full-scale productions, as AR continues to demonstrate it’s commercial potential. As big businesses and enterprise customers begin to understand the true value of AR and it’s commercial capabilities in terms of ROI, 2019 will witness an increase in new prototyping projects and many existing POC’s mature into battle-ready, customer facing applications. Last year we covered off the Top 5 AR trends for 2018, this year we’re looking forward to the Top 5 Augmented Reality Trends for 2019:

 

1. AR POC projects will mature into full production

 

One of the key characteristics of 2018 was the inception of new AR prototype projects. In 2019 many of these projects, based on successful proving of commercial ROI, will start to graduate into full production applications. Many of these AR applications will be consumer facing and many more will be designed and developed as internal business tools to enhance process efficiency, safety and will extend the functionality of existing desktop and mobile applications. If you’re a business owner thinking about AR and what it means for your business, kick-starting a prototype project can be a great way to understand the commercial benefits of AR technology in a manner that manages both commercial and technical risk. The key is to approach each new initiative by identifying key AR use cases, prioritising each use case based on its commercial merits and to develop the most compelling commercial use case as a prototype or proof of concept project. If you’re considering an AR project, but unsure where to start, conducting an innovation workshop can be a great way to stimulate new ideas in terms of AR use cases and to validate the commercial efficacy of your plans.

 

2. Enterprise will get to grips with AR ROI

 

One of the key barriers to enterprise adoption of AR technologies has been the requirement to fully understand ROI. As with any new and emerging technology, starting new projects can be challenging in terms of understanding commercial and technical risk factors. Generally speaking, big businesses will be able to leverage maximum value from AR by seeking to extend the functionality of existing mobile and desktop applications. One of AR’s key benefits is its ability to leverage additional value from existing data sets and focusing on process efficiency can be a great way to manage commercial and technical risk. Another key consideration in terms of maximising the ROI of new AR products and services is to understand whether an AR app should be developed as a stand-alone product or embedded into an existing suite of technologies. These considerations aside, in 2019 it’ll be essential for all businesses to understand how AR fits into the technological mix and to mobilise a team and route to market in the shortest possible time scale. As with all successful software endeavours, the key is to start with the end in mind and work backwards from key commercial outputs. AR technologies can be leveraged to solve a plethora of commercial challenges such as the creation of new revenue streams, the enhancement of existing revenue streams and cost reduction. Once big businesses have a firm handle on the underlying commercial reasons for developing an AR app, the specific use cases in terms of prioritisation will become clear and will help to inform planning and ROI calculation moving forward.

 

 

3. Mobile will continue to be the key driver in AR

 

One of the key challenges for AR technology has been the availability of a hero device. In the past two years, conversations around AR hardware have shifted dramatically away from heads up displays and towards the ongoing role of existing mobile technologies in relation to wider AR adoption and accessibility. Whilst HUD’s such as MagicLeap and Microsoft HoloLens have garnered significant interest in terms of PR, mobile has been and will continue to be the key driver for mainstream consumer adoption and accessibility. The same logic applies to enterprise focused AR projects and big businesses continue to understand and exploit the potential of AR in a mobile context. The key change here has been the roll-out of Apple ARKit and Google ARCore which gives brands and developers immediate access to provide immersive experiences via existing AR enabled smartphones and tablets. It’s estimated that by the end of 2018, brands and businesses will have access to over 1 billion existing AR enabled smartphones and tablets. Whilst developing AR applications for HUD devices will become an increasingly critical concern in the next three to five years, for now the market will continue to be driven by the creation and development of AR experiences for mobile. Again, this represents a fantastic way to manage commercial and technical risk, as existing mobile and desktop software applications can be seamlessly extended into the rapidly growing and highly lucrative world of AR.

 

 

4. Industrial AR applications will start to dominate

 

One of the key challenges for widespread AR adoption has been dispelling the notion that AR is a technology gimmick and largely focused on consumer facing applications such as Snapchat and Pokemon Go. In the past twelve months, industrial AR prototypes and POC’s have served to cement AR’s usefulness in terms of serious commercial application and this trend is set to continue. For big businesses, kick-starting an AR initiative can bring about wide ranging commercial benefits including the creation of new revenue streams, the ability to grow existing streams of revenue and cost reduction. These commercial benefits, particularly in the context of industry 4.0, can be realised through the deployment of AR to bring about process efficiency gains and to enhance existing safety procedures and practices. If you’re business involves software, there’s never been a better time to start thinking about AR and emerging technologies.

 

In a recent report by PTC , the $1.6bn Industrial IoT and Augmented Reality specialist, it’s predicted that 86% of industrial enterprises are poised to launch customer focused AR projects in the next 12 months. As digital transformation continues to be a key consideration for big businesses, developing AR technology represents a great way to enhance existing digital software offerings and AR represents a great way to differentiate industrial goods and services (50%) and offer more value to their customers. Generating increased revenues (28%) and the creation of new business models and revenue streams (17%) is also high on the agenda. In terms of internal AR developments, there is expected to be a significant increase in investment in Business to Employee (B2E) projects. Organisations are also waking up to the potential of AR to increase operational efficiency (44%), support training and skills transfer (39%), lower costs by harnessing AR (33%) as well as increasing manufacturing quality control (28%) and reducing development life-cycles (28%).

 

5. Big businesses will struggle to resource AR projects

 

Finding the right software development capability for your next AR project can be a challenging process. As with most emerging technologies, the availability of highly skilled, experienced development resource remains a key challenge and consideration for any technology buyer. Developing high performance AR apps differs greatly from developing 2D software applications for desktop and mobile. The required thinking and expertise is rooted in the understanding of 3D gaming engines and technologies such as Unity and Unreal Engine. For mosts big businesses, in-house development teams will not be ‘tooled-up’ to deal with the development requirements associated with AR. If you’re an enterprise technology buyer considering the role of AR in your business, and how to get started, there are a few options you can start to explore. The first option is to re-skill existing mobile and web developers which can be a time-consuming and costly process. Another option is recruit a dedicated team of AR developers to augment existing software development efforts. Again, this can be difficult in terms of time to market and successfully embedding developers into your current set-up. Another option is to use a reputable agency with significant experience in designing and developing large-scale AR development projects. Ultimately, the right way to progress will be driven by the precise requirements of your AR development project and attitude towards managing commercial and technical risk. Using an agency can be a great way to get your AR product or service to market in the fastest possible timescale.

 

Conclusion

 

2019 is set to be another huge year for brands and businesses developing, launching and marketing new AR applications. For many companies at the cutting edge of technological innovation, 2019 will witness successful AR prototype projects maturing into full production based on proving commercial validity and ROI. This will be largely driven by an ongoing appreciation of AR’s commercial potential and acknowledgement that AR has graduated beyond the realms of being considered a superfluous and gimmicky consumer facing concern. Whilst there are continuing signals that companies such as Apple are planning the release of a consumer facing HUD, in the next three to five years growth and accessibility in terms of mainstream AR adoption will be primarily driven by the use of existing AR enabled mobile devices. Another key trend in the market will be the continuation of AR establishing it’s rightful home in the realms of industrial application as the technology continues to demonstrate widespread benefits in terms of enhancing safety protocols and process efficiency. As demand for AR development capability continues to grow, big businesses will need to carefully consider how AR projects can be resourced and how new immersive AR applications can be launched to market in the fastest possible time frame.

 

*This article was originally published on Medium.com

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Erick Tran
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