Tech forecasts can throw up all sorts of fanciful scenarios.
Remember when we were all supposed to be flying around in hover cars by now, or wearing self-drying clothes? Blame Robert Zemekis for that one.
Of course, we’ve learned lessons from those early predictions – they don’t always turn out as expected. But sometimes, something just jumps out.
Just over a year ago, there were 342.8 million unique monthly active users (MAUs) globally, so why – or how – will the market grow in such a spectacular fashion?
Even more notable, the same forecast expects worldwide mobile AR revenue to rise from $749.0 million to $18.5 billion annually in the same timeframe. Yowzers, that’s quite a jump.
Hold your horses – it is also expected that AR users in the US alone will reach 51.2 million this year, up 36.0% over 2017. Double yowzers.
So I’ll ask again. Why and how?
Software Development Kits, chiefly from Apple (ARKit) and Google (ARCore) are leading the way in opening the door – or should I say portal – to this meteoric rise.
These kits are handing AR to the folk who really got behind the idea of the Internet in the first place. Creatives. Tech types. Dare I say it, nerds.
These are the kind of people who hooked onto the potential of the web long before any of us had heard of Netscape or downloaded Series Five of The Simpsons.
When I logged onto my first ‘web chat’ at Teesside University in 1995, I had no idea where it would lead. If I’m frank, I still don’t. I was Dessie75, in case you were wondering.
But you know what? The guys sat next to me in the computer lab on Linthorpe Road knew exactly where the Internet would take us. They were the lads who first took a laptop into lectures and quietly scoffed at us pen pushers.
And it’s the same with mobile AR. They will burrow away at the possibilities and piece-by-piece, bring AR right into every day life. We might not even notice it happening.
Indeed, many believe visual searches will power the expansion of AR towards those stratospheric figures I mentioned early. User interfaces that make it easier to harness the incredible power of the Internet. AR at its finest.
Pokemon Go for gamers, Amazon for shoppers, even Ikea for furniture fans. All huge names that are reaping the benefits of AR.
Snapchat, which uses AR to create funny kitten ears and puppy noses, now has more active users than Twitter. Don’t sniff at that, whatever you do.
But here’s the nub of the issue. There has to be a strategy. A great AR product can fall at the first fence if it isn’t part of an overall plan for maximize its potential.
Take our work with Intermountain Healthcare at HIMMS in Las Vegas, for example. We used AR to demonstrate the skill needed to fly emergency aircraft and cope with medical emergencies. How? By building a mini AR version of a helicopter that could be controlled with a dedicated app, showing the difficulties pilots face.
Not only that, we also introduced CaVRn, our groundbreaking social Virtual Reality experience – in a custom designed, 22ft circumference dome – to expand on the initial AR adventure.
Then we produced a series of short video documentaries, detailing the reactions of the hundreds of people who interacted with our technology.
Not only that, we used the power of the press – and social media – to tell the world how Intermountain Healthcare employed Laduma to tell a very special story.
It’s a story that shows no sign of slowing down. That’s not a fanciful forecast. It’s a promise.