With both ARKit and ARCore accessible to the general population, augmented reality is currently empowered on more than 500 million devices.
There are more than 2,000 AR applications accessible in iOS App Store and another 200 or more on Google Play. With few breakout hits, many are wondering what the killer use cases for AR will be. We can analyze the development of the mobile app ecosystem to better understand how mobile AR will evolve.
The development of the mobile ecosystem was driven, in part, by those Creative, Contextual and Connected use cases. These are currently driving the AR ecosystem past the initial novelty stage into creating true value for users.
Creative apps give users the ability to create new and better content. Instagram makes everybody an expert picture taker and Musical.ly makes everybody a hero. Creative apps improve photographs and videos with filters, stickers, music and more. By allowing users to share more than the raw footage of the camera, a greater creative potential is released.
Mobile apps became more useful when developers add context to experiences. If done right, the combination of tools and data can create powerful apps. Google Lens is one of the best examples of contextual AR and how combining different tools and data produce high-value experiences.
Similarly, AR becomes more useful the better we understand the world. Plane detection, cloud points, markers/image tracking and machine learning are all tools that enable a deeper comprehension of the real world. Through this knowledge, AR developers can overlay content and data to enhance your knowledge of your surroundings.
AR is moving from individual-based use cases to connected experiences. Streemis an AR platform that connects customers with service providers. They enable users, with the tap of a button, to connect with service experts to tackle their issues. The service providers are able to recognize issues visually and provide support and directions by overlaying data into the client’s reality.
2018: The year of mobile AR
While some are frustrated by the present selection of AR, when compared to similar platforms, mobile AR is evolving as expected. New computing paradigms are rarely enough on their own to result in killer use cases. A mix of tools, data, and scale are important to make the jump to the next level of consumer experiences.
With the launch of ARCore earlier this year, mobile AR already has meaning scale across both platforms. This scale (500 million+ AR enabled smartphones) is attracting nearly all companies to experiment with spatial computing and proprietary data. Companies are combining data with API’s to create new consumer AR experiences.
Perhaps most importantly, the tools and frameworks for building robust AR experiences are rapidly evolving. We have seen both Apple and Google quickly add key spatial features to their respective SDK’s. (And expect Apple to jump into the AR Cloud game after Google’s recent launch of multi-player AR experiences.)
Every week a startup launches a new tool that makes some portion of the AR pipeline from asset creation to real-world interaction better. As we saw with the mobile app ecosystem, now that these pieces are set up, anticipate that mobile AR will advance in 2018 to the next level with new use cases and experiences.