i3 | September 20, 2021

The Future of Augmented Reality

Jim Harris
Man enjoying virtual reality

By 2025, the global market for augmented reality (AR) will be $300 billion with 1.2 billion users.

AR is being used in many new applications. For example, in retail, Ikea has an AR application that lets shoppers see what a room would look like with an Ikea couch in it. The reality (a photo of your home) is augmented with an image of an Ikea couch making purchase decisions easier for consumers.

One of the most basic mobile AR apps are the Instagram filters that can be overlaid on selfie photos. This was popularized with Pokémon Go. Released in 2016, it was downloaded more than 500 million times globally by the end of its first year. That grew to 1.1 billion downloads in 2020. Lessons learned include:

Specialized Equipment vs. Smartphones

When AR requires special equipment like an Oculus headset (pictured), the market is limited because people don’t want to carry a specialized headset around, however, they do carry their smartphones. It’s predicted that by 2025, 53 million AR headsets will be sold a year. By comparison over 1.5 billion smartphones will be sold in 2025, according to IDC. The average selling price of a consumer AR headset is about $800, predicted to fall to $500 by 2025. Unless you’re a serious gamer, or have a specialized corporate use case, smartphone apps will dominate AR.

Bringing Museums to Life

Dali Lives allows visitors to interact with Salvador Dali at the Dali Museum in St Petersburg, Florida. The system uses artificial intelligence (AI) to answer questions from museum goers. Everything that Dali ever wrote was analyzed by the AI. It determines the likely answer Dali would have given to any question he might have been asked. Dali’s image was extracted from photographs and video and his voice, accent and intonation come from audios of the artist.

Dali Lives is a large stand-alone display with speakers (left). Imagine that rather than this display answering questions, using 5G and GPS visitors could listen on earbuds via their smartphones while touring the museum. As their personal guide, Dali would explain the exhibits and answer questions using the vast reservoir of the world’s knowledge about him.

Literally art would come to life engaging children and adults alike. Think about all the applications for museums, historical sites, tourism and education.

Transforming Surgical Visualization

Dr. Christopher Monely, the co-founder of MediVis, spoke at CES 2017 during the Verizon keynote. MediVis uses AR and 5G to take big data and using 3D modeling and AI, dramatically improves surgical outcomes.

Among the most frequently performed neuro surgical procedures is the freehand ventriculostomy. The surgeon drills into the patient’s skull, determining the angle by eyeballing it. There’s no consideration for the immense variation between individuals resulting in 20% of patients that have complications. This procedure requires that the angle, width of hole, and drilling depth are exactly right.

Although patients receive a detailed digital map of their brain from CT and MRI scans, up until now the data has been trapped on 2D monitors. Patient data can now be transformed into actionable intelligence. Using AR, 5G and cloud computing, the data can be modeled in 3D so the surgeon wearing AR goggles can see all the individual blood vessels and brain landmarks to perform the procedure making it safer and simpler.

By 2025, AR combined with 5G, AI and cloud computing will allow for many innovative applications and business models to deliver more value in retail, ecommerce, education, tourism and health to people worldwide.

Jim Harris is the author of Blindsided. Follow him at @JimHarris or email: jim@jimharris.com.

i3 magazine September/October 2021 cover

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