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Prediction 1

Augmented reality: on the cusp of reality

“2018 is likely to be a year of significant progress and experimentation for AR content created on a smartphone. Not only will the quantity of premium AR devices increase, but there will be tens of thousands of AR apps available for consumers and businesses.”

The key trends that Deloitte predicts for augmented reality:

  • Over half of all smartphone users in the UK, and more than one billion users globally, will create augmented reality (AR) content at least once in 2018.
  • Tens of thousands of apps incorporating AR capability will launch this year. And whilst we expect discrete app revenues for AR content to be less than $100 million globally in 2018, AR capability is likely to add much more value as a key differentiator for apps, operating systems and smartphones. 
  • Tens of thousands of apps incorporating AR will launch in 2018 and billions of smartphone users will have downloaded an app or an operating system (OS) update that incorporates AR content creation capability.  

Why is the time for augmented reality now?

Starting in 2018, AR content created on a smartphone will look increasingly photorealistic – users of AR content may perceive it to be real when they view it on a smartphone – and will often be recorded and shared as video.

Photorealistic AR is being enabled by a combination of software and hardware advances, one of the most significant of which is the launch of dedicated AR frameworks in smartphone operating systems. These frameworks are visual inertial odometry systems (VIOs) with some simple two-plane detection.

Dedicated AR support within a standard OS lowers the cost of developing AR apps. It removes the need, for example, for third-party tools to create the AR effect. It means that a developer can focus more resource on creating compelling content. This is also means that small development teams or even individuals can develop apps with AR functionality.

What’s next for augmented reality? 

2018 is likely to be a year of progress and experimentation for AR. The quantity of premium AR devices will swell and lower barriers to entry should increase the supply of apps that feature AR throughout 2018. We expect there to be tens of thousands of AR apps and an AR app store may be launched.

2018 is far from the endpoint for AR; many further years of evolution are likely to enchant users and enhance their creations. 

How can organisations use augmented reality? 

In the medium term, AR is likely to be used increasingly by enterprises and government for a variety of applications, with instruction manuals, technical support and public service announcements being possible applications. 

Enterprises should experiment enthusiastically but pragmatically with possible applications, but should be careful not to start off with AR as an answer and then look for solutions it could address.