Will 2018 be The Year of Augmented Reality?

If you build it, they will come. Or, in the case of augmented reality (AR), if you build an app to build it, they will come.

The truth is, if you want a technology to become mainstream, you need to let people play around with it to find out what works and what doesn’t. That’s why for me, the biggest news for AR this past year was the development of new hands-on, easy-to-use tools that give developers the chance to build apps with AR capabilities—and not just from one tech giant, but several. Apple created ARKit. Google has a similar development for its phones called ARCore. And in November Amazon joined the AR game by launching its own capability: Sumerian. My guess—and I’d bet on it—is that we’re going to see way more sophisticated AR apps in the coming year. And not just tech-y or game-y ones, but apps people can actually use in their daily lives.

Case in point: IKEA is already using AR, powered by ARKit, to help customers visualize IKEA furnishings in their homes while shopping. One developer said it could estimate the size with 98 percent accuracy. No measuring tapes. No returns. No guessing. ARKit just helped take furniture shopping to a whole new level. And IKEA’s not the only one to take advantage. Wayfair has also developed a similar app for its own shopping community using Google Tango.

What’s the Big Deal About AR?

In case you missed the mass chaos created by Pokemon Go, AR is fun. It gives users a chance to see, imagine, and experience things in their own world in a way that’s easy and mobile. It adds a new level to shopping and learning by providing a “multi-sensory” experience that’s active and engaging. It’s also believed AR can help customers build an emotional response to products. Case in point: it’s far more difficult to say “no” when your child is asking for a puppy that he’s already “seen” lying in his bed, walking on his street, and laying on his favorite sofa. AR can provide that “use case” for practically any type of sale.

Another reason AR is hot to trot in 2018? Virtual Reality (VR), its far more complicated cousin, has proved to be kind of a clunker. Most don’t believe it will take off for at least a few more years. In the meantime, AR is ready to go, and now has a multitude of tools to help companies get there.

Furniture and Games—What Else?

Beyond games and furniture shopping, what else is AR good for? The answer: a lot. The real estate industry has already jumped aboard with a few apps of their own to help buyers make even more informed home purchases. Homesnap, for instance, allows buyers to see property lines of a home as they are walking around it. PLNAR generates floor plans without having to measure—perfect for home renovations. And perhaps my favorite, Magicplan generates floor plans and tells you how much stuff (paint, flooring, etc.) you’ll need to work on it. How much easier could home DIY projects get?

AR: Leading the Future of CX?

When it comes to digital transformation, I like to frame new tech developments in potential CX gains—how much the tech will enhance the customer experience. To me, AR has tremendous potential to help companies make shopping, working, and organizing their lives so much easier. It takes the guesswork and laboriousness out of things like measuring, fitting, and matching. It makes buying online easier and more reliable. And in terms of use cases, there are tons, especially in the areas of training and education, as recently shared by my colleague Lena Hemsworth; and medicine, as shared by my colleague Shelly Kramer.

No, the development of ARKit in and of itself may not sound exciting. But when you imagine everything that’s now possible—and probable—now that easy development software is in place, the opportunities are literally endless. I’d guess 2018 won’t just be the year of AR. It will be the year AR becomes a standard for the most popular stores and mobile apps.

Additional Articles on This Topic:
Why Augmented Reality is Going to Far Outpace Virtual Reality
Augmented Reality: Changing the Practice of Medicine
5 Reasons You Should Start Using Augmented Reality in Your Business

Daniel Newman

Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.