Many VR products and features were introduced in 2016 but they just can’t seem to stick or take flight. The main reason being VR has yet to prove itself to be an experience seamless enough to really integrate into our daily lives. Cumbersome gadgets and add-ons don’t inspire usage, and inspire enthusiasm.
Where VR feeds entertainment purposes, AR seems to have quietly gone a step further by introducing a really tangible type of connectivity between humankind and the things that are truly important to us in the way we live today.
Until VR finds a way to feel like a ‘natural experience’, 2017 will belong to AR.
Here are the companies who share the vision that AR will play an integral part in everyday life much sooner than we think.
IBM has been extremely invested in AR. This includes a collaboration with the New York Times and Tesco. The company has been part of AR research since 2010 in collaboration with Nokia Research Center and the Technical Research of Finland. Not long ago they were dabbling in proof of concept experimenting with virtual meetings between participants in multiple locations.
Today, IBM is finally investing in marketable and educational uses for their AR patents. In collaboration with the New York Times Company’s T Brand Studio, IBM released an AR experience inspired by Hidden Figures, a film about three African-American mathematicians who worked at NASA in the 1960’s. The augmented reality experience is called Outthink Hidden and explores the story of the heroes and their accomplishments in STEM – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Apart from that, IBM’s research teams in Israel are also developing AR uses for improved shopping experiences. The company will be working with Tesco in providing employees with better solutions for storage, shelving, and product placement. Using the technology they can superimpose images on shelves to see how they will look, saving the retailer time while increasing productivity and efficiency.
IBM has a history of adopting technological advances for enterprise use and the timing couldn’t be better. Consumers are now invested more than ever in the mobile experience and experiencing life through their phones and tablets.
Alphabet- parent company of Google- is the most active middle man in AR. Their platform Google Tango gained a huge advantage in the past year in the consumer market, with partnerships with the likes of BMW, Gap Inc., Asus and Lenovo to name a few.
Their AR platform is exclusive to certain brands and devices, bringing in substantial revenue for the company i.e. BMW developed a 3D AR visualizer for their i3 and i8 units compatible with Tango-enabled devices only.
Google Tango has also partnered with several museums across the globe to give visitors an immersive experience in these exhibitions that will take visitors on a deeper level of discovery i.e. using their mobile phones to x-ray scan a mummy inside its sarcophagus and bandages; discovering how ancient artifacts would have fit in real-life settings back then.
For now, Tango’s software and hardware is limited and they have yet to branch out with different investors and developers.
Microsoft’s first foray into AR was Microsoft Hololens, an AR headpiece that maps out your environment and places virtual objects in your line of sight. The tech doesn’t end with overlaying objects and animations- it integrated with social media apps like Skype, which users can look at while performing other tasks.
Microsoft prefers to call their computer vision technology, ‘mixed reality’. According to Leila Martine, the UK director of new devices, “It connotates as a very different impression. It leaves you with more than just augmenting the real world. Augmenting is not necessarily that those two things are coexisting in reality.”
Last year, Microsoft emphasized that Hololens will not be a consumer product, but their recent activities might suggest a change there. The company recently applied for a patent to use AR for object tracking.
The patent aims to identify objects and monitor their location clearly. It should also monitor the movements of real-life objects. Another addition to the patent is the ability for Hololens to communicate with others and allow sharing of information collected on your individual AR programs.
Although the patent shows a theoretical use of immersive tech, the possibilities show a wide array of uses for daily living not exclusive to businesses and creative industries. Examples include tracking grocery objects, finding lost objects, and many more.