A blog by Dennis Covent, Tine Lavrysen and Wouter Martens

In 2015, researchers predicted that the VR industry could hit $120 billion revenue by 2020. In the meanwhile, we have passed the halfway point of this prediction, and right now all evidence indicates that a revolution is indeed taking place. As expected, Apple kicked off AR for real at their latest event

But let’s take a look at what’s in store for you and me.


1. We look beyond our smartphone

Augmented Reality (or Mixed Reality) will change our view of the world forever. It’s our own world, with a virtual world layered onto it. What’s crucial, in order for AR to impact our lives, is that you can use it in the right context and without being sucked into your smartphone screen entirely.

This smartphone has become so ‘smart’ that there is very little room for improvement. There are of course still a few areas of improvement left, but it can no longer ‘wow’ us the way Steve Jobs did when he presented the first version of the iPhone in 2007. For AR technology, on the other hand, a sea of opportunities is waiting to be explored.

We can interact with technology in a more natural way. We evolve from swiping a screen to swiping our field of vision, voice command actions or even actions based on physical motion. The latter way of interacting still feels more natural to us human beings.

Viewing the world through a smartphone screen isn’t the future, but viewing it through your own eyes is - with extra virtual objects and information layered onto it. Right now, this is possible with AR glasses, but in time we will be using AR contacts, which reduces the boundary between reality and added reality even further.


2. We will all be wearing glasses or contacts

What’s great about the latest announcements by Apple, Microsoft and Google is that the smartphone can still serve as a computing power device and data processor. All the AR glasses have to do is to ‘observe’ the reality and to project virtual objects on it.

This way, Google Lens also becomes more interesting. Instead of taking your smartphone out of your back pocket to look up extra information about a place, glasses or contacts allow you to view this information instantly, at any time.

Hm, AR glasses, where have we seen this before? Once a total flop, but now back from the (not quite) dead: Google Glass! And this time round, you won’t be running into any “Glassholes” in the street, but rather on the work floor, since Google Glass is now focusing on a B2B environment. Strategically speaking, this is a good choice, because in a business environment fashion is subordinate to ease of use.


3. There’s no escaping AR on the work floor

We can no longer ignore that 2017 is the year of AR:

  • Microsoft’s Hololens has found its way into the B2B world,

  • Japan Airlines is using the Hololens to teach its students about all the components of a Boeing motor, without having to drag a Boeing motor into the class room,

  • Cirque du Soleil is using the Hololens to designing its stages,

  • and Volvo is using it to design cars.

Augmented Reality at the workplace
5 ways Augmented Reality will change our lives
  • AGCO / DHL employees all wear Google Glass on the work floor,

  • Google is building a new VR/AR advertising platform. To avoid that irritating pop-ups are displayed, one of their key values is that an advertisement cannot be ‘pushy’. Even AR does not escape advertisements.


4. We are all becoming (a bit) clairvoyant

It is no longer about what we see, but about the total experience. Physically, you see a nice coffeeshop. Through AR, you see a nice coffeeshop with pictures, reviews, the menu, promotions, opening times, ...

And that’s just the extra information about your current location. The possibilities extend much further - so much so, that you can travel without actually having to leave your home. But this is a VR story, which, at the moment, is only popular in the gaming industry. Though, admittedly, Facebook is working hard to change all that.  


5. High-tech will be the new normal

Why are we making rapid improvements in terms of AR development? Because it is possible to scan an entire space in 3D and integrate this into AR. Pokémon Go will soon be old school.

The Microsoft Hololens is already become quite good at this. Here, digital objects can interact with the physical world. We are expecting that the new iPhone will also be able to do this.

Many people who watch this for the first time, get a wow-feeling and so we will have to expect the ‘Novelty effect’. In the beginning, people will applaud the new technology, because of this wow-effect, but after a while seeing a digital object in the real world will feel familiar. To keep people interested, AR will have to have an added value. An example of such an added value is interaction. People are naturally inclined to interact with objects. At iCapps we have been able to try out the Hololens. Our developer Cathérine’s immediate reaction was to pet the puppy that was being projected.

And how about a bedtime story for your kids?

I hope you’re convinced by now: AR is ready for a revolution!