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Augmented Reality Trends in 2021

Augmented Reality has seen unprecedented growth since 2020 and all the huge companies are using this technology which is helping them to make advancement in the field. There are companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Apple and Google who are using Augmented Reality in their business.

According to MarketsandMarkets, the market for AR technology is worth $15.3 billion. It’s worth exploring the different avenues and trends that drive the surging augmented reality market. By the end of 2020, AR active devices were estimated to rise to 598 million units and are projected to grow to 1.73 billion by 2024. (sources: mobidev)

Trend #1: Mobile AR: Apple ARKit 4 and Google ARcore

Apple has recently released ARKit 4, it’s the open source for augmented reality tools. GoogleAR has released ARcore which is making great strides to keep up in the industry. Because of the app’s greater support, AR-capable devices, the use of augmented reality has increased too much. 

Since 2017, Apple has revealed ARKit, such as ARkit 2.0, at WWDS 2018, ARKit 3.0 at WWDS 2019 and finally ARKit 4.0 at WWDC 2020. Some of the newest advantages of ARKit 4.0 include location anchors, new depth API and improved face tracking. This allows Apple’s ARKit developers to land them in the power of the latest iPhone Lidar hardware. 

ARcore falls short when it comes in comparison of ARKit. ARKit has way more options and also ARcapable app in the Google app store is less than Apple ARKit, only 2000 available apps. However, ARcore is widely used when it comes to global level as android users are more then apple users also it depends region wise too. 


Trend #2 AR in shopping & retail

Giving customers virtual store experience sitting at home is always a priority for retail, especially clothing brands that want their customers to have new experiences. Also, they have made a virtual fitting room for the customers. This allows customers to try it before they buy while sitting in their comfort zone. Also part of this is because of Covid restrictions and social distancing. 

It is not only limited to clothing, IKEA’s app allows customers to see how the piece of furniture would look in the corner of the house while using AR technology. 

Virtual fitting room technology is not going anytime soon as it is expected to hit the market by $10 billion by 2027. Also, due to pandemic situation its really necessary to improve the experience of customers who cannot come in person, the advantages, the convenience and the growing acceptance indicates that it would remain popular for years to come

According to the 2020 IBM U.S Retail Index report, 41% of respondents were interested in trying a virtual fitting room to enhance their shopping experience, while 18% had answered that they had already tried the technology. As AR technology matures, the comfort of consumers will only increase (source: mobidev)

(Source: The Irish Times)

Trend #3: AR for Navigation 

As there is more bandwidth and also control over the environment inside the scope of AR navigation indoor increases. There are wide range tools that are available indoor for example beacon technology, ceiling antenna, and QR codes. However, if robust Wi-Fi is available Apple’s iphone AR is good enough to handle indoor positioning by using Wi-Fi RF patterns. 

ARKit and ARcore based apps have helped customers to find their way to airports, shopping malls and other locations too. Also, in store navigation has chances to improve and help customers find exactly what they are looking for in shopping malls. 

Also, in ARKit 4 Apple has introduced a new tool for outdoor AR navigation called Geo Tracking which uses street views to ensure the best positioning. 


Trend #4: Augmented Reality relies on Artificial Intelligence

The role of artificial intelligence in augmented reality cannot be underestimated. The high demands of augmented reality applications cannot solely rely on human programming to display virtual objects in a real world backdrop. Neural networks and machine learning can accomplish these tasks with higher efficiency and can improve augmented reality experiences drastically.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence cannot be possible without a strong team of data science engineers. Analysis and collection of training data is compulsory for the success of machine learning programmes to support AR software. The engineers need to carefully fine tune and optimize the model before they integrate and develop. 

AI can play a supportive role alongside AR. For example, automatic suggestions can be given to a person who is visiting a store in person using an AR experience on their smartphone. These suggestions are driven by chatbots powered by natural language processing (NLP) technology.

Trend #5: Remote assistance and Virtual Manual

It’s been researched that only 7% of the workforce in the United States while 37% of US jobs have the potential of being possible via telework. However according to the Brookings institute half of employed workers work from home. But since corona has hit it has seen a dramatic increase in telework.

Because of the increase in teleworks it is necessary to maintain the efficiency of certain professionals who used to operate in person. IT computer repair is a great example. Augmented reality has allowed IT technicians to give guidance to the customers by just turning smartphone devices towards the computer. 

Remote assistance via an AR experience can be built with WebRTC. This allows both the parties to connect to each other and see the same AR experience via peer to peer connection. But it has to make sure that video is sent in real time without any server load challenges. 


Trend #6: Portable Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is relatively convenient for the people who use smartphones but not in its current form as it’s not easy and manageable for all the tech consumers. Holding up the smartphone is relatively too distractive and also takes out immersion out of an AR experience. So, it’s better that augmented reality comes in the form of a headset which can be easy to carry and use.

However, headsets like Microsoft hoLoLens and the Vajro XR-1 are far too bulky and expensive to be used in non enterprise and also in their current forms. Though the progress is slow, the industry is working towards augmented reality that can be used as a wearable technology such as smartwatches and earbuds.

Once this experiment of AR becomes convenient, affordable and comfortable then the importance of AR can go to skyrocket. Multiple companies are working to develop AR glasses that would be more feasible to use. Apple Glass is an alleged consumer-focused AR glasses project that may be released in the next few years. ARtillery Intelligence expects that the market for this technology will grow from $822 million to $13.4 billion by 2024. 


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