Where is Augmented Reality Going?
Glasses, Oculus, and Pokemon--oh, my! Augmented reality has made serious strides towards reality in the last five years, and the future is looking bright. Investment in AR and virtual reality tech is projected to reach $2.6 billion by 2025. Digi-Capital predicted AR alone could generate $85 billion to $90 billion in revenue with a 3.5 billion installed base within five years. With all this growth, what advances in AR technology are coming down the pike?
Headset design will be critical to mainstream adoption. Before the wider population purchases VR/AR headsets, consumers want to see a blend of function and value. Expect headset designs to become lighter, friendlier, and more mobile if sales of AR/VR headsets are to increase, as predicted.
Magic Leap One
The touted Magic Leap One is a step in the right direction towards streamlined design for AR glasses. It includes a self-contained computer, a controller, and a light to let others know when you’re recording. The AR headset will be connected to an external wearable power pack. Retail price is currently unknown, as is the exact availability date. What we can predict is users are unlikely to enjoy a hot power pack attached to their hip or the wires running up to the headset. However, depending on the video quality of Magic Leap One, it could be the first in a string of headset innovations.
The Microsoft HoloLens is proving AR’s value for industries. Leading architecture firm Gensler applied the HoloLens in its headquarters remodel. The architects paired the headsets with Windows’ SketchUp Viewer to see the remodel plans both as a 3D model and on a 1:1 scale. All changes happened in real-time. All the stakeholders could see the changes and get a sense of scale. Gensler went on to apply the technology with its Banc of California Stadium design.
Google Glass’ original launch foundered for numerous reasons, but that doesn’t mean the concept is dead. FCC filings in 2015 showed Google planned to revamp Glass under its Alphabet X Division. Glass 2’s new market is business users, primarily in the manufacturing, logistics and healthcare industries. Clearly, Google hasn’t given up on the technology. Like the HoloLens, Glass could pair with AR and building information modeling (BIM) software to streamline build outs and ground-up development planning.
Designing AR technology will be easier with the latest rendition of development software. Apple’s ARkit will make creating AR apps for its iPhone and iPad products simpler. Google’s version, ARCore, serves the same function for Android-powered devices.
These applications mean commercial real estate will see more AR use in the industry. The value in using AR during a development’s early stages cannot be underestimated. Expect more architectural firms to apply AR to show their clients what a space will feel like. As a result, project developers and their architects will have better conversations about building design. 2D drawings and rendering only go so far. Redoing these 2D models wastes time and money; the AR changes push across the system instantly.
Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM)
Beyond architecture and design leading the way, more purpose-built apps could apply AR to property tours or marketing. Improvement to SLAM means AR location accuracy is now inches, not yards, off base. SLAM developments are increasingly precise, as demonstrated by Lowe’s Innovation Labs. A Google Tango-enabled phone used SLAM to find in-store products with a holographic representation of pricing and other information.
Better SLAM will increase the demand for enhanced marketing. Clients could use AR to self-tour properties, highlight amenities, and create navigation for large complexes. There’s marketing potential for commercial real estate. Imagine this: a potential client is idling at a red light next to an office space advertised for lease. To learn more, they hold up their phone and a message pops up detailing property specs and the listing agent.
AR isn’t mainstream yet, but all these improvements show it’s heading that way. Adoption will create a higher demand for untethered AR glasses, as people look up to see the augmented world around them. Soon AR could be as essential to property marketing as social advertising.