Augmented reality “is the future, the dominant way we will interact with computers and the Internet.” That’s a pretty bold statement, isn’t it? Before we dismiss it, though, let’s consider where it came from. Christopher Mims, The Wall Street Journal’s technology columnist. He also recently proclaimed that augmented reality is “the most exciting technology you’ll ever encounter,” and he just might be right.
Augmented reality has been underestimated since Google Glass, the best-know example of this technology, failed. It is also often grouped with or overshadowed by virtual reality. But to understand augmented reality and its potential in the marketing landscape, imagine this: a display that lives on the physical world around you instead of a screen that sits on your desk or is held in your hand. It has the power to create a world without screens, and many technologists believe that it will within the next five years.
As marketers, our job is to skate to where the puck is going, not where it is now. So as we prepare for the greater developments in augmented reality to come, here are some trends to keep an eye on today.
Everyone is developing for it.
Tech giants, including Facebook, Samsung, Apple, Metaio and Microsoft, are all working on augmented reality and virtual reality projects. Dozens of startups are raising billions and preparing to reveal their core augmented reality products. Goldman Sachs recently projected that augmented reality and virtual reality together would generate $80 billion in hardware sales by 2025. This projection may be a bit optimistic but highlights a huge opportunity.
Augmented reality will overtake VR.
Goldman Sachs also projected that augmented reality will have a higher adoption rate than virtual reality. Mims compares this to desktop computers and cellphones. Virtual reality can only be used in a safe and enclosed space, while augmented reality is taken with you and used anywhere in the real world.
Augmented reality will impact the online shopping experience.
Reverse the augmented reality lens, and imagine displaying consumer products in the space they will live in once purchased. Buyers no longer have to guess if a pair of jeans will match that top in their closet, if that lipstick shade is too bright or if that couch will throw off the feng shui of their living room. Augmented reality allows online shoppers to visualize their purchases in the environment they will be using them in.
Augmented reality takes content and gaming to a new level.
If you’ve played “Pokemon Go” or used a Snapchat filter to project a character onto your face, then you’ve already started adopting augmented reality. Augmented reality will continue to impact gaming and social media. It also creates the opportunity for gamers to become paying customers with sponsored locations and filters that we’ve already seen adopted by Snapchat, “Pokemon” Go and Ingress.
Can you picture it—a world without screens? Instead of looking down at your watch, you’ll look down at a smartwatch projected onto your wrist, and with the slightest gesture of your hand, you’ll project your entire workspace onto any table or wall. It sounds like a scene from the Jetsons, but with advances in technology, this could soon be our reality.