The Top 5 Augmented Reality Developments of The Last 12 Months
By Matthew Szymczyk
While virtual reality has drawn most of the spotlight, there have been some amazing developments in the AR space that are bringing it closer to consumer and enterprise adoption. Though there have been quite a few AR product launches, brand experiences and new startups funded in the last year, we wanted to isolate our Top 5 list to what we feel are developments that have had and will have the most impact on the augmented reality space as a whole. So without further adieu….
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#5 – Augmented Reality Investment / Funds
A recent CB Insights article entitled, “AR vs. VR Funding: AR Deal-Making Growing Faster Than VR Deal Activity” shows that though VR investment grew in 2015, AR took the investment lead in 2016. Digi-Capital also pointed out earlier in the year that 2016 was the first year that Augmented Reality investment topped $1 Billion. And this was in the first quarter alone for 2016. Since that time, seed stage AR/VR investment funds, such as Super Ventures, were founded while institutional and corporate venture capital firms also started to make investments. Given the incredibly low level of AR investment prior to 2016, last year’s robust and growing amount of investment bodes well for numerous augmented reality startups and technology.
#4 – Snapchat & Facebook Monetize Augmented Reality
With Facebook’s acquisition of MSQRD and Snapchat’s debut of augmented reality lenses, mobile users worldwide were soon introduced to augmented reality selfies. While both platforms tout basic facial recognition and animated layers on your face or within your camera view, this AR feature became very popular with both users and brands. In addition, these features also became a new form of advertising revenue for these platforms with Snapchat charging $750,000 for a 24 Hour branded lens.
#3 – Tango Launches With 3D Camera For Augmented Reality
While 3D cameras like Kinect have been around for a few years, mobile devices were restricted to a 2D camera that had limitations for augmented reality based technology. With the release of the Lenovo Phab Pro 2, mobile devices with 3D and depth sensing capabilities were soon a reality. The early reviews of Tango technology also bode well for the future of mobile based 3D augmented reality.
#2 – Head Mounted Displays Arrive For AR Development
When Google Glass debuted in 2013, it was ahead of it’s time – both technologically and culturally. However, with the debut of the Microsoft’s HoloLens in late 2015, the head mounted display (HMD) market quickly showed how we would utilize mixed reality in the future. After receiving initial positive reviews, the HoloLens has now been in the hands of developers for about a year. With other HMD devices from Meta 2 and Magic Leap launching soon, the HMD segment for augmented reality will quickly be adopted by enterprise customers and eventually by consumers.
#1 – Pokémon Go
Without a doubt, Pokémon Go was the biggest augmented reality launch and development of 2016. Though Pokémon Go only utilized “AR Lite” technology, it quickly made $500 Million in 8 weeks after launch and was on track to make more than $1 Billion in revenue by the end of 2016. More importantly, Pokémon Go introduced multiple generations to augmented reality technology in ways that no other app or technology has done to date. While it remains to be seen how popular Pokémon Go will remain, geolocation coupled with augmented reality will be one of the most important technologies for mobile users, advertisers and retailers.
- Intel RealSense / Project Alloy. Though Intel has been advancing augmented reality over the last few years with RealSense technology, their announcement for Project Alloy positions them for the soon to be crowded HMD mixed reality device market.
- Augmented reality audio. Doppler’s recently delayed augmented reality earbuds were an out of nowhere but exciting AR development.
- Apple. Though they have stayed out of the VR and AR market to date, don’t be surprised if Apple makes a big impact in the AR space in 2017. Recent patent filings and rumored AR technology in development all but assure the next iteration of the iPhone will be augmented reality ready.
Matt Szymczyk is the CEO of Zugara and has over sixteen years of experience leading strategic efforts for Fortune 500 companies. Matt leads the product strategy and business development efforts for Zugara.