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AR Grows While VR Slows

Apple augmented reality

Mixed reality is a term that encompasses both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). But the two technologies appear to be headed in the opposite direction.

Yesterday at Apple’s WWDC developer conference the company introduced ARKit 2 with enhanced capabilities and “shared experiences” (e.g., multi-player games). Apple has a vision for what it calls “persistent AR” and is promoting its integration into a broader selection of apps:

Persistent AR will also change the way consumers interact with AR apps by creating opportunities to leave virtual objects in the real world to which users can return. They can start a puzzle on a table and come back to it later in the same state or create an art project over the course of a few weeks without starting over each time.

Google also talked a great deal about AR at its recent developer conference last month. Google Lens and Maps walking directions involve AR for example. Microsoft and Facebook have also invested heavily in AR and are promoting it to developers.

With all of these major companies pushing in the same direction AR will inevitably become more available and “persistent.” A key variable is infrastructure; AR is being and will be developed for smartphone apps. There’s no new hardware that consumers need to buy to experience it — though people keep trying to develop glasses — and there are a range of practical and daily use cases (walking directions is one).

By contrast, VR requires a headset. And while there are many good and affordable headsets in the market, most consumers are shunning them. Headset sales are flat to declining and there’s some evidence that game developers are losing interest as consumers fail to adopt VR at scale.

VR experiences can be very compelling but mass audiences haven’t been convinced. The headset requirement is a significant limitation and drag on the technology. Gaming and entertainment are natural applications, as well as B2B and specialized use cases (e.g., design, education, training).

New devices and technologies could change the trajectory of VR but it sure appears to be going the way of the beacon — toward modest adoption but far short of the hype and potential. AR appears to be gaining momentum because, as mentioned, it doesn’t require additional investment or new devices for consumers and there’s broad alignment in its favor.

We’re just starting to see AR apps and content appear in the market, but the next 24 months should give us a clear sense of how impactful AR will be for consumers and marketers. At Place Conference London, Microsoft’s UK CTO Richard Potter will discuss the outlook for “mixed reality” and offer current case studies. He’ll also talk about how AI and computer vision will impact and advance some of these scenarios.

How Mixed Reality & AI Will Change Digital Experiences
Mixed reality is set to have a major impact on digital marketing and shopping. What are the use cases? What can retailers and brands expect in the next 24 months? Microsoft UK CTO Richard Potter will present success stories with brands like BMW and how AI and computer vision factor into next-generation experiences.

Richard Potter Microsoft CTO

One Response to “AR Grows While VR Slows”

  1. You are absolutely right. I have also noticed that the growth of VR slows down. I expected more growth from this technology. Not only me most of the people want this too. Especially the gamers. The gaming experience in VR is not so good.

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