The end of the year is always an exciting time to think big about what the next 12 months have in store. In industries like VR and AR, things change fast — which means predictions can get very interesting.
From retail to gaming, here’s what some of the experts in virtual and augmented reality had to say about where things are heading in 2019.
‘Try Before You Buy’
One area that will define augmented reality in the next year is its expansion beyond gaming. Industries from travel to retail are ripe for disruption. And AR technology has progressed to the point where it’s now a viable option.
Today’s consumers value experiences, but they also have more choices than ever before. This makes the ability to “try before you buy” all the more critical.
Ben James is the senior product manager of virtual reality at HomeAway. He sees the potential of hotels, vacation homes and other vacation destinations as something that will take VR into mainstream life.
“Although large and full of early adopters, the activities of the gaming industry rarely affect mainstream consumers,” James said. “Travel, on the other hand, offers a fertile ground for immersive technologies to reach the next level. More than 1.8 billion vacations were taken by Americans last year alone and every single one of those travelers would benefit from using immersive technologies.”
It Can Add Excitement To Sports. Virtual reality can have a big impact in the world of sports. For fans, virtual reality provides the opportunity to watch a sporting event like never before. Fans can watch an entire game or match feeling like they are in the middle of it all. There have been some major sporting events like the Super Bowl and the Final Four that are already implementing virtual reality into their viewing options. This could be the future for all sports.
Beyond travel, Amir Rubin, the CEO of Sixense , predicts that brick-and-mortar stores from clothing to furniture will be able to leverage virtual and augmented reality solutions to allow customers to have the experience of shopping in person without ever having to leave home.
“ Retailers looking to invest in these technologies will see an uptick in the variety of VR and AR solutions in 2019. ” – Amir Rubin, CEO of Sixense“Retailers of all shapes and sizes will have new tools that can allow customers to experience products in more exciting, imaginative, customizable ways,” Rubin said. “From trying on virtual clothes, planning a camping weekend or designing the perfect layout of furniture in a room before purchasing, retailers looking to invest in these technologies will see an uptick in the variety of VR and AR solutions in 2019.”
“Retailers of all shapes and sizes will have new tools that can allow customers to experience products in more exciting, imaginative, customizable ways,” Rubin said. “From trying on virtual clothes, planning a camping weekend or designing the perfect layout of furniture in a room before purchasing, retailers looking to invest in these technologies will see an uptick in the variety of VR and AR solutions in 2019.”
Advances in Gaming
While augmented and virtual reality will likely expand to more parts of everyday life in 2019, that does not mean the gaming community will suffer as a result. In fact, the technology that powers video games is likely to get better.
“ In 2019, AR will move from single-user use cases to multi-user use cases. ” – Todd Greene, founder and CEO of PubNub
Todd Greene, founder and CEO of PubNub , said one area to watch is the ability for real-time connection between augmented reality headsets and physical objects in the same location.
“In 2019, AR will move from single-user use cases to multi-user use cases,” Greene told us. “Their real value will lie in the synchronization of actions and sending/receiving of data between one another, connecting users in a seamless real-time experience.”
Although virtual reality can be used for gaming, it is also becoming popular for other purposes such as allowing a person to feel as if they are in a virtual reality documentary.
Not only will the technology that powers gaming become more advanced, it will likely become easier to afford, according to Hala ElAarag, professor of computer science at Stetson University.
“Headsets will continue to evolve and get cheaper. The merging of Artificial Intelligence and XR will revolutionize both fields and will be very important for the entertainment industry,” explained ElAarag. “The high speed and the low latency of 5G technology will enable computationally intensive applications to be executed in the cloud. This will also have a significant impact on the e-sport industry.”
Schell Games has long been considered a pioneer of virtual reality gaming. CEO Jesse Schell predicts that the market will see unprecedented growth in the coming year.
“The Oculus Quest will sell at least one million units by the end of 2019, proving out the market for wireless 6DoF all-in-one VR systems,” says Schell. “It will be one of the hottest items for holiday 2019. The most ardent users will be teenagers.”
Augmented reality will also make waves next year with an enchanting new project on the horizon, according to Eric Mizufuka, senior product manager of augmented reality solutions at Epson America .
“AR will roar back into consumer’s minds with Niantic’s launch of Harry Potter,” Mizufuka said. “Google’s ARCore and Apple’s ARKit have struggled to find the ‘killer app’ for their impressive platforms; however, I’m confident that Harry Potter will re-introduce the world to the possibilities of AR.”
iGlasses. While today Apple is infamous for their use of “i” in their products, they weren’t the first ones to come up with the idea. In the 1990s, a company known as Virtual I/O came up with a headset that was capable of color 3D stereoscopic vision, as well as head tracking. Known as iGlasses, the device had a price tag of just under $1000. While the glasses were fully capable of delivering an immersive experience, they didn’t truly ignite the consumer market.
VP marketing at Fieldbit , Alex Rapoport, said the company is already working with BP on advancing its use of augmented reality. He sees more of these collaborations happening in 2019 as industries use augmented reality to increase efficiency and support remote workers.
“We’ll be seeing industrial companies expand their usage of AR for repairing major pieces of equipment in the field, like monitoring technologies on a pipeline or servicing medical imaging equipment in hospitals,” says Rapoport. “With the skills gap becoming more prevalent between expert engineers and workers in the field, augmented reality can help bridge that void.”
Not only will AR become more widespread this year, but the technology itself will become stronger — setting the stage for even more significant growth in 2020 and beyond. ARwall CEO Rene Amador and CMO Eric Navarrette predict that advanced depth cameras will make a more immersive experience possible, which will allow augmented reality users to more fully suspend disbelief.
“Tracking and depth cameras are becoming so accurate that they can film and place people in imaginary AR worlds, in ways they have not been able to experience before now,” they told ARPost. “As capture grows closer to real-time, users will feel more fully immersed in the metaverse and can continue to suspend disbelief while using AR experiences.”
We cannot name the invention of Virtual Reality to a single person. Many people contributed for the growth of VR technology. The five people who played a significant role are Morton Heilig, Jaron Lanier, Douglas Engelbart, Ivan Sutherland, and Myron Krueger.
ARwall CEO Rene Amador and CMO Eric Navarrette predict that advanced depth cameras will make a more immersive experience possible, which will allow augmented reality users to more fully suspend disbelief.
Techuz CEO Vaibhav Shah said major changes are also on the horizon for virtual reality, specifically in the area of user interfaces. The key, he says, is to move away from screen-based interaction.
“Despite providing great immersive content, games and websites have the same kind of UI that we interact through the screen. This demystifies the illusion of VR and reminds the user that they are still in the virtual world, that it is not a reality,” Shah said. “Designers and developers are working to overcome it and provide a deeper immersive experience. Thus, designs of User Interfaces will play a massive role in transforming VR.”
Will 2019 Be the Year VR and AR Go Mainstream?
If these predictions come true, the answer may very well be “yes”. Either way, it will be an exciting year of growth on multiple fronts. We look forward to covering these developments throughout the year.