I have gotten used to writing that AR is on the cusp of adoption, that it’s still too cost-prohibitive and complex to see widespread adoption as yet, but is that changing? Has it already?
I seen more and more AR on consumer products and signage, and I’ve run across applications designed to simplify the process of creating simple AR for novices. Packaged solutions for AR — imagine! Then today I interviewed MJ Anderson of Trekk, and it solidified this trend I was already seeing.
I remember Trekk from the early days of VDP/1:1 printing, and the company has evolved significantly since then. Today it is heavily involved in inbound marketing (it is a HubSpot reseller), and it has made a huge investment in augmented reality.
Although Trekk has already been behind a lot of AR projects you may have seen in this industry, Anderson noted 5 tidal shifts that signal that AR is set to explode:
1. Apple purchased Metaio. Metaio offered a complete end-to-end solution, the largest functional platform for creating deploying and managing AR experiences. In June 2015, without explanation, it closed its doors. Since then, it has been revealed that Metaio was purchased by Apple. Speculation runs high: AR standard on every iPhone?
2. Android announced product releases and platforms that are VR-focused (the more immersive experience) rather than AR-focused. Its Gear VR is getting a lot of play in the discussion about tethered vs. non-tethered VR.
3. Other major announcements have rocked the marketplace, including Facebook’s purchase Oculus Rift, a VR headset, and Microsoft’s intention to develop Hollow Lens, a wearable technology that is a generational leap forward from Google Glass. Nearly a dozen other companies (including Konica Minolta, Sony, Samsung) are doing things with wearables, as well, both for industrial and consumer applications.
4. Google strengthened the functionality of Google Cardboard, its app platform that allows users to create VR experiences on their mobile phonse or tablets executed using simple — very simple — cardboard foldable viewfinders and puts VR experiences in the hands of the average consumer for under $12.00. It also rolled out a learning environment, Expedition, based on Cardboard, that enables teachers to distributed shared VR experiences to their students in the classroom.
5. Massive growth in visual search, including Project Tango, which is getting real-world play by major companies such as Walgreen’s.
“We’ve been doing this for 20 years now,” says Anderson. “We’ve seen all the technology come down the pipe and the cycle it goes through. It starts with a good idea, then you have the early adopters. Next, standardization takes place and tools are built. Then it moves into mass acceptance and then eventually it obsolesces and dies. This time around, there has been an enormous activity and flood in the marketplace. Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft—there are some very, very large players making large investments in developing products and standards for this technology.”
What does this mean for print? It means even more added value to a channel that already offers a unique value proposition. With costs coming down, development becoming democratized, and more widespread consumer acceptance, the road is opening for “early” adopters in our marketplace. (I use quotes since the technology itself is beyond the early adopter stage.)
If you’ve been curious about AR, it’s time to seriously check it out.