Across a number of different industries like retail, business, gaming, healthcare, and even the military, augmented reality is used for solving various business challenges. It’s important to keep an eye on these technologies to know where the industry is heading. As we discuss these 12 augmented reality trends making moves in 2023, think about how these solutions may benefit your own business.
Trend #1: Leap into the Metaverse
One of the goals of metaverse technologies is to strike down the barriers between the digital and physical worlds, and AR is a great start. Geenee AR and Ready Player Me partnered up to make this experience a reality. By inserting your avatar into Geenee’s WebAR Builder software, you can effectively “wear” your avatar on camera. The software also takes into account cosmetic items on your Ready Player Me character, including accessories in the form of NFTs.
This technology isn’t new. It has been used with apps like Snapchat and Instagram for a long time. However, the innovative element is how the app allows users to drop their avatar that they use on other platforms into the app and use it in AR. In the future, this technology could be used to better hybridize virtual meetings. If one person on your team is using a VR headset to attend a meeting and you’re attending without a VR headset, an AR avatar of the person could represent them at your meeting.
Trend #2: Augmented Reality Meets Artificial Intelligence
It’s no surprise that artificial intelligence (AI) and AR work well together due to AR’s needs. Complicated algorithms must be used to make sense of sensor data of the environment. AI can simplify that process and make it more accurate than a model made exclusively by a human.
An example of this is the app ClipDrop. The app allows users to quickly digitize an item in the real world into a 3D object for use in programs like PowerPoint, Photoshop, Google Docs, and more. 3D scanning can be used to import real-world objects into metaverse environments as well. 3D scanning may be a great way for businesses to speed up the pipeline of offering items for virtual trial experiences.
Automatic design is another use case of combining AR and AI. An app called SketchAR is an example of this technology in action. Users can freely draw in AR using this app. However, they can also use an AI to draw for them. The AI can create structures quickly. This shows that AI programs can design objects in 3D space using the real world as the source environment. In the future, this may mean that AI will be able to design and create structures for use in the real world.
Trend #3: Mobile Augmented Reality
Geospatial API for Arcore
In 2022, Google introduced a new API for geospatial experiences. This allows developers to create experiences that are tied to specific locations in space. In the past, AR experiences have been purely relative to the user or in arbitrary locations set by the user. Geospatial API allows developers to set latitude and longitude coordinates for AR content. Scanning the physical space isn’t necessary either. It works by comparing images of the surrounding area to Google Street View images to determine a specific location nearly instantaneously.
ARKit 6 Enhancements
Several new features were introduced by Apple for their ARKit 6 upgrade in 2022 at WWDC. One of them is a 4K video recording while ARKit content is in use. The depth API has also received an upgrade to make scene occlusion and other experiences much more realistic. Apple’s LiDAR scanner allows AR experiences to be prepared so quickly that they call the technology “instant AR.”
Apple also improves its motion capture feature. When the camera is focused on another person, motion capture data can be taken from their movements and applied to a 3D model. One of the other latest upgrades is people occlusion, which allows virtual objects to pass in front of and behind people in the scene.
Trend #4: WebAR
Powered by web browsers, WebAR doesn’t require users to download additional software. This is the best-case scenario for accessibility. However, it comes at a cost — WebAR offers the most basic AR experiences and lacks many of the features that native AR can offer on mobile devices. Still, in some cases, WebAR can be very useful for simple experiences, such as adding filters to faces, changing the color of hair or objects, background replacement, and simple 3D objects. Simpler virtual try-on experiences are possible with WebAR. These are used by several businesses such as L’Oréal and Maybelline for their cosmetic products. Although WebAR isn’t very powerful at the moment, the evolution of WebAR may be one of the most important ways to engage with the Internet in the future.
Trend #5: Cross-Platform AR
One major challenge in developing AR is making apps cross-platform. There is also the unfortunate truth that cross-platform applications will most likely not be quite as good as the full potential of native ones. However, cross-platform apps can be very high quality if the right steps are taken. Cross-platform AR is easier to code and can result in a faster time to market. However, performance and presentation can suffer.
Generally, it is better to keep an app native if the app is very complex and needs to use the full potential of native features. However, if the app is simpler and doesn’t need extremely high performance, cross-platform will do just fine. Working with an augmented reality development company is a great way to build cross-platform applications and improve the quality of your product and help you focus on other aspects of your business.
Trend #6: AR Glasses
It seems like with every year that passes, comfortable and consumer-friendly AR glasses are just around the corner. One of the latest devices up in the air is Meta’s planned mixed reality headset currently called Cambria. However, the Cambria headset seems to be geared more toward wealthier audiences looking to get an early experience with the future of AR. Because of this, it seems that Cambria isn’t the magic bullet everyone was hoping for. However, it may be a step in the right direction.
Another important thing to watch out for is the evolution of Apple’s LiDAR scanner. Apple is one of the top companies predicted to introduce a consumer-focused AR headset or glasses in the future. In 2020, their advanced depth sensor was equipped on the iPad Pro and later was equipped on the iPhone 12 Pro. The more that this technology and processing can be miniaturized, the more likely that we may see comfortable-to-wear “Apple Glasses” in the future. In June 2022, Mojo Vision Labs in Saratoga, California hosted the first demonstration of augmented reality smart contact lenses. Relying on eye tracking, communications, and software, AR lenses integrate with a user interface to enable an augmented reality experience.
Trend #7: AR in Marketing
There are many different applications for augmented reality in the marketing industry. For example, by adding interactivity to marketing material like a business card, you stand out from the competition and offer potential customers a whole new and exciting experience to get to know your company. AR manuals are also a popular choice among businesses looking to provide their customers with more detailed and feature-rich instructions and documentation. AR not only allows for delivering information in an engaging way but also significantly improves the user experience without forcing the buyer to spend a lot of effort to master one or another mechanism.
Trend #8: Indoor and Outdoor Navigation
The rise of technologies like Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) antennas, Wi-Fi RTT, and ultra-wideband (UWB) make indoor navigation much more viable than in previous years. One of the most useful applications of this technology is for displaying AR directions in large indoor locations like distribution centers, shopping malls, and airports.
Just as a guest in a store may use AR indoor navigation to find the product they are looking for, a distribution center worker may use it to find a particular item in their warehouse. Although comfortable and affordable glasses with AR capability aren’t quite here yet, the capacity for the business applications of AR in distribution centers, stores, and other sectors is there.
Trend #9: Healthcare
According to Deloitte Research, augmented reality and AI will transform the traditional healthcare business model by offering AR/MR-enabled hands-free solutions and IA-based diagnostic tools. For example, Microsoft Hololens 2 can provide information to the surgeon while allowing them to use both of their hands during the procedure. AR can also be useful in telesurgery solutions and mental health apps that are helping people to maintain psychological balance. For example, features such as drawing and annotating on the 3D screen can make communication between doctors and patients much easier and clearer. Remote assistance tools can also help clinicians support their patients while reducing downtime.
Trend #10: Shopping Experiences
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic called for numerous innovations that could help extend experiences to online shoppers. This resulted in an explosion of virtual try-on solutions. Brands are actively adopting AR technology to improve the user experience when shopping online. For example, Dior has repeatedly launched AR shoe experiences allowing customers to virtually try on shoes before buying. Back in 2020, Dior teamed up with Snapchat to create such an initiative for the first time. FRED Jewelry uses AR to let customers customize bracelets on the company website with a 3D configurator and try them on virtually.
As quarantine lockdowns have come to an end and brick-and-mortar stores have seen customers return, smart mirrors are a great way to enrich the in-store experience and reduce the load on fitting rooms. Customers can walk up to smart mirrors and try on clothes in-store with advanced AR technologies not available on their smartphones.
Trend #11: Manufacturing
Many AR applications are consumer-focused. However, AR has a lot of potential for use in industries like manufacturing. For example, worker training can be enhanced with AR experiences powered by CAD data. AR can also assist technicians through routine maintenance processes. AR applications can highlight elements of devices being worked on to guide technicians through the process at hand. This is generally more accessible through head-mounted solutions than through mobile applications. In more simple applications, AR can help give workers more contextual information about objects in a factory when set up appropriately. By highlighting an object with a mobile device, a worker can learn more about it and if any action, such as maintenance, needs to be taken.
Trend #12: Augmented Reality in Automotive Industries
Augmented reality has several different applications that can be useful for the automotive industry. One of the more futuristic and interesting technologies emerging in this space is AR highlighting on-road objects through the use of a heads-up display (HUD). This can make drivers aware of hazards and GPS directions without requiring them to take their eyes off the road. AR is also in use for entertainment and information, such as 3D car manuals and other applications.
With the help of 5G connectivity, empty parking spaces can be highlighted on a driver’s heads-up display. This can also provide a great deal of data that can be useful for optimizing the layouts and operations of parking facilities like parking lots and garages.
The Future of Augmented Reality
With the market expected to reach $97.76 billion in 2028, it is clear that augmented reality is the future for many industries. That future will be determined by businesses that adapt to today’s challenges in new and innovative ways. Companies that offer rich AR experiences to their customers will be much better equipped to stand up alongside their competition.