There’s no doubt about it – AR and VR are the hottest technologies right now, next to AI. As the COVID-19 pandemic restricts in-person interaction, more and more people see the benefits of AR/VR in their everyday life.
So, what does the future of AR/VR look like?
From augmented retail shopping to virtual travel, here are the virtual and augmented reality trends to watch out for in 2021 and beyond.
Trend: AR and VR Will Become Much More Mainstream
In many ways, this trend isn’t hard to see. We’ve seen a surge of VR and AR applications in game consoles, smartphone apps, and other consumer technology for the past few years. In fact, experts predict consumer spending on AR content to be at $8 billion in 2021, compared to $1.4 billion just five years back. VR is also expected to surge by 1,500% in the same period.
And experts estimate that this trend will balloon further. The lower cost and drastic improvements in AR/VR hardware and software mean the technology will become much more commonplace in the years to come. Mobile tech companies like Apple and Google are continually releasing updates on their AR APIs, making the technology more accessible for developers to incorporate into their apps.
Trend: AR for Navigation
With the speed of Internet connections getting faster worldwide, using AR for navigating both indoor and outdoor locations is already a reality and the space is evolving quickly to be commonplace.
While HUD (Heads Up Display) in vehicles have been around for a while, night vision and other low-visibility cameras are in Mercedes and other luxury cars already, which display alerts or live video onto windshields. This trend will continue and these features will show up more and more in low end vehicles as consumers demand more in-car technology, and as costs to scale decline.
For instance, AR can help people find their way around airports or malls by showing real-time overlays of navigation paths or points of interest. Google is even experimenting with using this technology outdoors by integrating AR Live View and Geo Tracking into Google Maps so people can easily find their way around major cities.
And the future of AR navigation will eventually find its way into the automotive industry. Combined with AI technology, drivers can soon have AR overlays on their dashboards to point out hazards on the road or alternate routes to take to avoid traffic.
Trend: AI-Powered AR
Speaking of AI, more AR software in the future will see support from artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms. This gives AR the power to customize the experience for consumers and adapt to their needs. For example, AR can use a consumer’s shopping history, learned via AI, to highlight great deals or new items whenever they visit retail shops.
Certainly AR powered retail is a big market for this technology. We will also see this grow in categories such as education and training, field services (think of the many use cases for oil/gas such as oil well exploration) or remote expert services.
Trend: Virtual Fitting Rooms
With the rise of ecommerce giants like Amazon, consumers are continually seeing the convenience of shopping at home. But for things like clothes, it can be hard to replicate the experience of trying a dress first online before buying.
That will all change with virtual fitting rooms (VFR), allowing consumers to try digitally “fit” clothes at home using VR technology. Consumers seem to love the idea, too – VFR is poised to grow into a $10 billion industry in 2027.
And fashion is just the beginning. The future of augmented and virtual reality trends can extend to shopping for furniture, art, and other fixtures at home (like what IKEA is doing).
Another example is Warby Parker, with it’s AR driven feature that lets users try on a new pair of glasses for style and fit.
Trend: Virtual Travel
With the current global pandemic, traveling has been the one thing that most people miss. With VR technology, people can visit any country virtually at the comfort of their homes.
But that’s just the beginning. In the future, tourists can use VR to see if they like a destination before investing money to travel there – much like people fitting clothes before buying them. VR can even let people re-experience their dream vacations much more vividly than just viewing photos and videos.
Trend: Education with AR
While distance-based learning has its advantages, the main problem is that it can be challenging to replicate the rich interaction that a classroom environment can provide. But AR technology can bridge this gap by opening up more modes of learning than just listening to a lecture via Zoom, like what Wikitude is doing with its Ai.R-Cord app.
For example, AR learning can enable students to inspect and rotate virtual objects as they would in a classroom, like this example from Visible Body. This enhances the experience by breaking up the monotony of online lectures and making digital learning much more engaging and effective. This trend will continue to evolve across the educational space in 2021 and beyond.
Trend: AR Events
Aside from tourism, the other industry that took a big hit during the pandemic is events. But with AR technology, organizers can enhance virtual events by providing more options to engage and interact with participants.
Job fairs, for example, can show real tables, flyers, and company representatives virtually using AR –as they would do in a real-life event. AR can also be used in sporting events to provide a richer viewing experience for fans.
AR allows organizers to make their events much more accessible to a global audience, giving more exposure and revenue opportunities.
In a post-covid world as people return to live events, augmented reality will still maintain a big presence at vendor booths, allowing companies to showcase their most innovative immersive experiences viscerally for consumers.
It’s an Exciting Time for AR and VR
Based on these trends, it’s clear that AR and VR will continue to integrate into our everyday lives in the near future.
As a developer, how will you use this exciting technology in your next project?
Still not sure? Contact us today, and let’s explore how you can harness the power of VR and AR.