April 10, 2020
2019 was a year of growth and learning for Augmented Reality. A lot of growth was experienced in gaming and entertainment but that could shift in 2020.
In 2020 we will see a large influx of AR/VR companies focusing on industrial experiences. The 2020 XR Industry Insight report collated by VR Intelligence states that 65% of the AR companies surveyed said they are working on industrial applications, while just 37% working on consumer products and software.
What makes AR/VR attractive to this industry is the boost in productivity and safety. VR can be used to simulate working in dangerous environments or with expensive, easily damaged tools and equipment, without any of the risks. AR, on the other hand, can be used to relay essential information directly to the user about whatever happens to be in front of them.
The adoption of AR in healthcare is forecasted to grow by 38% annually until 2025. AR can be used by surgeons – both in the theater and in training – to alert them to risks or hazards while they are working. One app which has been developed uses AR to guide users towards defibrillator devices, should they need one when they are out in public. Another one helps nurses to find patients’ veins and avoid accidentally sticking needles where they aren’t wanted.
As these experiences and innovations continue moving from pilot to production AR will become widespread throughout 2020.
Super-fast mobile networks will further boost the potential of AR to strengthen its presence in entertainment and make further inroads into the industry during 2020.
The potential for data transfer speeds of up to 3 gigabits per second – by comparison, the average home broadband delivers well under 100 megabits per second – means 5G should be fast enough to stream AR from the cloud. Rather than needing to be wired up to powerful PCs, or encumbered by on-board hardware, viewing devices will upload tracking data to data centers where the heavy processing will be done. The rendered images can be delivered back to the user in real-time thanks to the speed of 5G and other advanced networks.
Combining AR with the cloud and 5G technology means designers of AR tools will be unencumbered by the need to deliver their experiences into a low-bandwidth, low-powered environment. The result will be lower costs, enhanced experiences and much faster load times.
Educational experiences in AR will continue to become increasingly common throughout 2020. Students can already take trips through historical landmarks like Rome, Athens, and Paris creating an interactive history lesson. As 2020 warms up we will continue to see AR move from niche to becoming a teacher's everyday education.
With the current COVID-19 pandemic this will only speed up AR adoption in classrooms. There has never been so much urgency to teach students remotely. Distance learners could be taught in VR classrooms, meaning they don’t miss out on the benefits of learning in a collaborative environment, while AR can ensure that access to the information needed to carry out a job is always on hand.
One of the most obvious use cases for AR technologies is indoor navigation, and 2020 is expected to be the year that the average consumer gets their first real taste of its potential. People already lean heavily on maps services from both Google and Apple to get around outside, but indoor navigation stands to be the use case that blows the public away.
Navigation paired with AR should help construction sites where the layouts may not be fully installed. Other areas that could benefit from AR navigation are large corporate offices, college campuses, and hospitals.
In 2020 we will see fewer apps, faster load speeds, and AR pilots moving to production. As 5g is paired with Web AR doors will open that remained closed in friction sensitive industries. We will see if 2020 is the year AR finally finds another mainstream hit behind Pokemon Go's success.
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