We have been careening towards this moment since 2017 when Apple released AR Kit, followed closely by Google’s release of AR Core to the public for free. These two Software development kits (SDK) achievements allow an ordinary person to create Augmented Reality content that can be easily accessible to anyone using a mobile phone or tablet. AR is not insignificant, it will be bigger than the printing press, the electric light and the internet – combined.
AR will offer humans powers previously only available to the likes of Superman. We will all be as smart as Albert Einstein and you will never forget someone’s name. The technology uses the camera on mobile devices, combined with Artificial Intelligence, to scan our real world and add advanced information. Seeing through walls to know where cables and piping have been placed will be just one of the utilities that will be offered to construction teams. Facial recognition will place everyone’s LinkedIn page next to their face in the boardroom. Advertising will adorn the outside of buildings like in Blade Runner. You will be able to find out the calories of a banana by pointing your phone (and soon AR glasses) at a piece of fruit. AR will reveal the nutritional value to you specifically, as your device is tracking your steps and other exercises allowing for personalization.
Information will be discoverable everywhere. Will this make us smarter or dumber? We are all walking around with a supercomputer in our pockets now. What will happen when there is no searching, and the accurate information is attached to the real-world asset? You can read until the cows come home, but the best that can do is allow you to learn. By contrast, Augmented Reality will offer a sense of presence that gives a person the ability to actually “understand.” This is already happening thanks to Google Lens. Apple, Facebook and Amazon have made it very clear they see AR as the future of everything. However, Google has offered the most impressive and useful experiences to date by allowing a user to activate AR content at volume, with zero friction. These activations are already deployed and are changing the way we get directions and advancing education immeasurably.
The World Economic Forum has said AR, AI and VR will usher in The Fourth Industrial Revolution. The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.
Augmented Reality has enjoyed a steady build of momentum over the past few years, with the release of Pokémon Go in 2016 as the most notable since the creation of the first significant AR activation, the “yellow first down line” in televised football games.
All new mobile phones are centrally focused on driving the masses into adopting AR and big tech is betting the farm on it. The last piece to their puzzle is getting us all to use a 5G device. This will allow for advanced AR experiences to work seamlessly, with no lag. All of these factors, and many more, point to an exciting year for augmented reality in 2021. The combination of advancements in technology, coupled with new applications, will open the door for millions more users who will find reasons to use AR in their everyday lives. The future is certainly bright for AR. So bright, in fact, people may not need to wear shades, but will certainly want to put on a pair of AR glasses. Apple is rumored to release their AR eyewear in 2022.
Get ready for everything to change. Everything.