We have talked about our own roadmaps for the year but what about Mixed Reality in general? Here we take a deeper look into the industry at large including Mixed Reality's cousins AR and VR and explore potential industry trends, milestones and beyond.
It seems fair to say that we have been referring to the AR/VR/MR industry as one 'in its infancy' for a few years now. Despite all three of the 'XR' industry segments having made headways, both technologically and economically in recent years, there is still a sense of 'when will it go big?' for the technology.
Which sounds odd when you consider that this is a multi-million pound industry we are speaking about here. And yet, here we are, in the beginnings of 2019 still taking about AR/VR and MR as being a fledgling industry.
This could be viewed negatively, of course, but it shouldn't be. Because, in actuality. this should be seen in a positive light because if we are calling such figures and such reach 'fledgling' then when the boom does hit and the technology reaches mainstream it will be quite something for everyone involved in AR/VR and MR.
For now, lets look into the projections of the industry for 2019
1) HoloLens update
It cannot be understated how important it will be to the industry in general. The original HoloLens is still breaking boundaries with software updates and, despite Magic Leap finally coming to market last year. it is still top dog for Mixed Reality. Microsoft were reportedly so untroubled by competitors in the past few years that it scrapped plans to launch HoloLens version 2 earlier and make more improvements meaning that this update will likely be version 2-plus as it were.
The rumours are getting stronger now that at Mobile World Congress, the new headsets will be launched which bodes well for the industry and should see a new wave of enterprise customers who have been waiting for this update to make the leap (not a magic one) into the industry.
Training has been, notably for VR, one of the golden sectors for the new technology. It offers enterprise organisations, the industries as well as traditional educational establishments untapped boundaries of teaching and training. The link reel of training applications across the XR industies, not just VR, are incredibly strong because of the relatively low cost to deployment ratio. VR, AR and MR applications are constantly there and do not get broken in the same way that say, an engine could. Sure, a trainee could go wrong somewhere but a simple click of the 'reset' button solves this. Companies across the length and breadth of industries are beginning to acknowledge this and from Airline fire safety tutorials to examining the human body, expect training to go further and further this year as an industry trend.
AI is, in many ways, an industry close to Mixed Realities in that it is one with huge untapped potential and yet, it is one that has been around for many years. So naturally, it is about time that the two industries merged. The advanced cognitive abilities that AI offers could and should be a game changer for AR. VR and MR for the ability to automate many of the processes and make the whole 'headset' experience smoother. This is a must if the technology is to become more widely adopted because the ease of function tends to best the potential of the technology when it comes to getting it in the hands of enterprise users.
4) AR to extend its consumer focus
AR has, arguably been the most successful of the three 'realities' thus far in purely exposure terms. And yet, this has been the downfall of its success in the sense that it is often seen as a 'gimmick' rather than having clear business use cases. As development costs reduce and more devices have a native ability to see AR applications and interact with them however, we can expect this to chance. It only takes a major player, most likely in the retail sphere. to create an AR app that actually integrates truly with the customer experience and provides value to all partners - consumer and corporate - to mean AR will soon be a 'must have' rather than a 'nice to have.'
5) Public demand to drive the industry
As iconic movie quotes go 'if you build it they will come' from Field of Dreams is up there with the best of them. If we take liberties with paraphrasing, we could say something which will matter dearly to the XR industries in 2019 and say 'if you demand it, they will build it.' Consumers will be the driving force of growth in the industry whether that is on the commercial side of things - in notable industries such as manufacturing and the medical industries, or consumer-facing such as museums who need to provide added-entertainment value to a notoriously feature-hungry audience. If the demand is there, coupled with the quality and an emphasis on the word 'value' in 'added-value' we will see more and more companies and providers bringing out XR solutions.
And there we have it, a non-controversial estimation of how Mixed Reality and its close cousins Virtual and Augmented Reality will fare in 2019. Only time will tell what actually happens but the omens are all pointing in the right direction towards a positive year in the industry.