In the first article, I went over what is the general terminology of AR and why AR is important at the moment. In this article, I will try to go over some of the high level applications.
Current AR applications –
While its little difficult to state a very concrete set of applications that are using AR right now, I will mention the buckets / fields where AR is currently being used. As of this writing (Nov 2017), things are growing rapidly. With introduction of ARKit, there are many players in the consumer market, who are coming up with solutions on the platform provided by technology players.
Bucket 1 — Manufacturing and servicing –
1) One of the first application and great case study comes to mind is the way GE is making use of HoloLens in turbine design and tuning. GE is naming this visualization a digital twins.
2) There are many manufacturing companies where assembly and defect detection is still human heavy, training cost is a huge factor. Recently, Lockheed martin has done investments in training assembly technicians using AR glasses.
I think in manufacturing industry, where people need to augment the data in the context of bigger core technology, AR can play a big role. Off-course, AR content platforms and technology need to make big strides before we get there in terms of content and technology.
There are also many companies that are using some kind of AR + IOT to understand and make preventive maintenance easier and predictable.
I am most bullish on this category for next 5 years. I believe that manufacturing industry will pave the way for mainstream AR applications and drive the technology.
Gaming and entertainment –
Who can forget the Pokemon go, a storm that gave a different direction to gaming industry? Gaming is a big market for smartphone AR. Another advantage with gaming industry is the adoption curve for new technology that gamers show and have typically shown in the past. Gamers usually have that “Lets try this new thing” attitude. There are number of exclusive AR and many “AR mode” games being released everyday in the market.
I think this deserves a special category. There are number of retailers, taking advantage of AR to do placements of merchandise in home or in a particular location. There are many cameras and systems that can actually map 3D space and place AR objects in 3D. There are also many systems that can scan human body or objects to be placed in the 3D space. Amazon’s latest update of their app on iOS is great implementation of ARKit. There are number of car companies who are using AR to educate and help customers in car buying experience. BMW’s latest implementation with Tango’s Zenphone is a great example.
a) Visualization of information — Heads up displays in cars and miltery application.
b) Know before commit — INKHUNTER is a great example of how a particular tattoo will look like on your hand before you go for it.
c) Building something virtually before even 3D printing it — So far, designers designed the models in autocad and other 3D modeling software. Today, they can actually bring the models in real world environment before even prototyping it.
d) Google translate is a big one for me in this category. Here, one can translate using a camera and information is anchored to the original content.
Informational & Educational-
a) lets talk about assistants :) — recently, Google Lens was announced in collaboration with Google assistant and photos. As I mentioned in my first article, camera becomes a query and answer surface with AR. Google lens with assistant will be able to do number of things with camera like recognize flowers, restaurants on the street, and text translation.
Bixby, a Samsung assistant, also announced a great AR feature that translate text, read QR codes, and recognize landmarks, all on the camera surface. Facebook is also trying to assist you when you open the camera to take photos !
b) Educational — a great example of this I think is INSIGHT HEART app on iTunes. This came out on iOS 11. I have never seen the details like this in any of the 2D videos so far. There is lot of other educational content emerging, majority in VR like Google expedition Pioneer program and learning platforms like Unimersiv.
At the end of the day, the most curious in me is looking for —
a) Change in the design paradigm of user experience in products
b) and affordances in design to handle and interact with information in new immersive way.
I am super excited for future when we can combine advances in hardware, machine learning and this new immersive way of content consumption.
In next article, I will talk about major players and some of their investments.