Augmented Reality Predicted to Reach Over One Billion Users

One of the most recent predictions from the tech world is that over one billion people will engage with augmented reality tech by 2021. With Facebook only recently reaching the 2 billion mark, perhaps one billion doesn’t seem quite as impossible as it sounds. If half of Facebook’s users adopt AR then the prediction can easily be met, the question is how AR will be accessed. Apple has a four-wave answer that includes mobile devices, wearables and hardware.

The most obvious first wave of AR tech is already in use. Facebook’s Camera Effects platform and Apple’s ARKit for iOS provide users the opportunity to engage with digital effects that merge with reality on the phone they already use. This wave will most likely account for the largest number of users, especially if AR becomes a standard feature in future smartphones.

The second wave is AR hardware, like Google’s Tango. This device is a smartphone/tablet that is used only for augmented reality. These singular devices are meant for AR geeks who are committed to the full augmented reality experience. Think gamers and graphic designers. There might not be a billion of them but they make up a huge consumer base.

Next up are wearables, both tethered smartglasses and untethered smartglasses, the third and fourth waves, respectively. Tethered smartglasses give the user a chance to fully engage with AR, leaving his or her hands free. The rest of their person isn’t entirely free, as indicated by the word tethered. Tethered smartglasses are peripherals to a users’ smartphone and make use of smartphone mobile coverage, battery power and existing apps. Standalone smartglasses will cost the most and will likely experience the most hiccups. But with every consumer base covered, it makes sense that Apple will likely dominate the future of augmented reality.

Snap’s Spectacles Look to Be Getting an Upgrade to AR

The popularity of Snapchat has continued to snowball over the past few years, with the introduction of Spectacles just seven months ago. That allowed for easy recording of anything that interests an individual user. When it comes to the second generation of this technology, the expectation is that the concept of augmented reality (AR) will be one of the most integral aspects involved.

 

The company itself has been extremely quiet about the innovation, which was only discovered after a website researching patents came across one from Snap that was filed in November 2015. That patent focused on the concept of being able to detect where a user is and then broadcast digital material with the dual-glass setup.

 

The idea of broadening the scope of Spectacles has been evident from some of Snap’s public moves, which have included the purchase of a drone-based company. Yet the aforementioned patent also indicates that other components that also deal with AR are in the pipeline. These include both a visor and a helmet that work in conjunction with the technology, with other reports indicating that the inclusion of a camera that shoots from a 360-degree perspective is also on the horizon.

 

The merging of Spectacles and AR for Snap isn’t surprising, with the first example of that taking place just a few months ago. That was when World Lenses was released, which

involved providing app users the ability to walk around three-dimensional items for a short period of time, usually just a few seconds.

 

Given the secrecy surrounding this project, the price for this item remains in question. However, given the upgrades involved, it’s expected to be higher than the $130 that Spectacles buyers paid for their product. The company has sold close to 100,000 of those devices, with nearly 35,000 of them being purchased in time for last year’s holiday season. While Snap itself is still losing money, the company is betting on the bottom line getting better.

AR Company Meta Sues Former Employee for Theft

AR firm Meta has filed a lawsuit against former employee Zhangyi Zhong, “Augmented Reality” company “DreamWorld USA.” They claim that Zhong leveraged his employment with Meta, as its former head of optics, in order to gain an in-depth understanding of how Meta did business in order to apply that knowledge toward founding his own tech company. Zhong was employed by Meta for 16 months before stepping down in July 2016. DreamWorld announced “DreamGlass,” its first product, in May 2017. DreamWorld’s AR headset is expected to cost less than $350, placing it well below the $949 price tag of last year’s “Meta 2.”

 

Meta claims that Zhong was able to price DreamGlass so cheaply because he was heavily involved in Meta 2’s development, freely able to pore over the company’s tomes of research material into augmented reality and analyze Meta’s relationship with various manufacturing companies. Meta alleges Zhong quit without advance warning, claiming to suffer from a manufactured medical issue, founded DreamWorld under an alias and had someone run the new company, likely believed to be Zhong’s significant other. The end result is a company that could quickly produce something that was the direct result of another company’s years of research and development.

 

Meta’s worries grew upon the publication of an article on DreamGlass, an optical system that had an aggressive price and release date. The article claimed that while the DreamGlass was mostly more superior to the Meta 2, its tracking seemed vastly inferior; Meta tethers to a PC, while DreamGlass tethers to an Android device. Meta’s lawsuit claims that because his expertise is in optical engineering, Zhong had no technical skill in regard to the headset.

 

In a cutthroat industry like AR, the Meta 2 is among its leaders; Meta feels DreamWorld is disingenuous in presenting DreamGlass as an innovative new product, rather than an iterative one. The charges levied against the defendants include misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract and fraudulent business.

 

Augmented Reality Expected to Train Workers

There’s lots of talk lately that upcoming Artificial Intelligence (AI) developments will cost many their jobs. But, technological developments both take and give jobs. However, the workforce needs to adjust. Even now, many jobs aren’t filled because there aren’t enough workers with right skills.

 

There are new technologies that should help with training, TechCrunch claims. The Augmented Reality (AR) is one of these technologies. For example, by putting AR glasses on, instructions and even holograms appear as layers on actual physical places such as factories or offices. With such help, it is possible to train people hands-on.

 

“AR headsets provide an idea…for hands-free operation, with the device at eye level, presenting information when needed. AR headsets can also bring powerful first-person views, which are valuable resources for field force automation,” stated Tractica, a research company.

 

Already tech giants are in this field. Microsoft developed Hololens. This mixed-reality device brings physical and digital objects, places, and people together for a wide range of experiences. Google’s Holokit brings virtual reality into effect through the use of a mobile phone and a special headset.

 

Meanwhile, Samsung has developed smart glasses that blur the line between augmented and virtual reality. Facebook is also working on augmented reality with Camera Effects developer platform. This technology relies on camera lenses rather than glasses.

 

Currently, only free augmented reality tools are produced and shipped to consumers. In 2022, Tractica estimates, the shipments will exceed 20 million units.

 

In the workplace, the AR technology is already being used successfully, although by very few companies so far. Boeing has been using AR to improve productivity of its workforce and its research shows that the workers who used it are not only more productive, but also more accurate and satisfied.

 

It’s not only about hardware when it comes to AR. It is also about content. So, expect that in the future there will be job openings for AR content creators. Some jobs will go, others will be created.