At the beginning of this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook called Augmented Reality (AR) as “the next big thing” and declared that “it will pervade our entire lives”. Take a look at these figures, if any proof is required. Worldwide spending on AR and virtual reality (VR) is forecast to be $18.8 billion in 2020 – an increase of 78.5% since last year. By 2023, this market is expected to reach $94.4 billion. Such largescale investment will boost innovation to create better and bigger AR/VR projects as well as increased mainstream adoption. AR/VR are poised to disrupt industries, businesses, and our lives in 2020.
The AR/VR timeline
Before we dive into AR/VR trends for 2020, let’s look at key milestones in their development journey:
- 1968 – Ivan Sutherland created Sword of Damocles – the first VR/AR head mounted display.
- 1987 – Jaron Lanier coined the term “virtual reality” and Tom Caudell coined “augmented reality” in 1990.
- 2003 – Wagner and Schmalstieg released the first handheld AR system to run autonomously on multiple personal digital assistants (smartphones).
- 2014 – Google launched Google Glasses, a wearable AR device that displayed computer-generated content on top of the real-world view.
- 2016 – Pokemon GO went wild. It used AR to create a digital model of Pokemon on top of the real world.
- 2020 – As we write this article, the world is enjoying Google’s 3D animals coming alive inside our homes.
AR/VR trends in 2020
Such meteoric advancement in these technologies is creating an array of interesting trends for AR/VR in 2020. Here are the top eight:
Healthcare will get robust
The past few years have seen AR/VR make inroads into the medical field. Augmented Diagnosis and Augmented Surgery are leading to super precise findings and conclusions as well as higher success rates for surgeries. With Augmented Training, students are getting a real-life flavor of medical situations using simulated environments. More of such innovations – leading to enhanced and more cost-effective patient outcomes – will gain momentum in 2020.
Students will enjoy experiential education
Students can expect richer and more meaningful learning experiences with 3D visualizations and 360-degree views of conceptual models, as provided by the mobile app Human Anatomy Atlas for example. They will get a chance to put theory into practice in simulated environments, thus gaining practical skills. Distance learners will gain from more real virtual classrooms. Teachers will be able to make more meaningful evaluation based on accurate insights into how students are performing in AR ecosystems.
Shoppers will get intensely immersive experiences
Retail will make rampant use of AR/VR because of their high experiential impact. Retail businesses will offer richer buying and pre-buying experiences online and offline – especially for Gens Y and Z shoppers. Brick-and-mortar stores can aim for higher targeted sales with AR-based indoor navigation.
AR advertising will boom
AR advertising will be the way ahead following the success of last year’s Facebook AR ads or Instagram’s AR filters. Marketers will aim to use AR to build stronger campaigns and we’ll soon have metrics demonstrating the efficacy of AR advertising.
Events will get bigger and better
AR/VR have the potential to change the way we plan, attend, and experience events. From virtual venue previews and virtual attendance made available for key guests who are unable to attend in person to augmented experiences at the event – the role and the scope for AR/VR in event technology are huge. Providing guests with the opportunity to experience your products by simply donning a headset, using enhanced visual projections for a mega look-and-feel and improving remote participation using AR/VR will transform event planning, executing, and experiencing.
Entertainment and gaming will reach a new high
These traditional spaces for AR/VR will get more adventurous. AR hardware like headsets and glasses will become less clunky. AR-enabled earbuds, AR avatars, projection of live events using sophisticated LED screens will lead to richer gaming and entertainment opportunities. More personalized and engaging content using AR will be the trend in 2020.
AR will get on to the web
AR experiences are moving from mobile only to the web (WebAR). Popular browsers such as Chrome, Firefox are already on it and offering AR experiences. This trend will facilitate widespread access and usage of augmented reality.
5G will boost AR experiences
A lightning-fast mobile network will transform the way we experience VR and AR currently. Advanced technology will make AR/VR experiences available and more accessible – even in low-bandwidth environments. This will enable AR to be leveraged for hitherto unexplored purposes.
AR/VR will see exponential growth in 2020 and the years ahead. Every industry that is adopting these technologies is gaining steady success. Any problem in any field will have its solution embedded in AR. These technologies will very soon become a given in web/mobile apps. The addition of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to this already powerful duo will provide us with completely novel and unique experiences and advantages. In every way, our lives are truly set to change.