It’s Time to Augment our Realities
Another year passed by and it has been a ride through up’s and down’s for the AR and VR industry. Long awaited new VR glasses finally popped out on the market and the best thing: we passed the level from developer to consumer editions. Finally! Fantastic VR and AR experiences were showcased at hundreds of events worldwide. Many of us could try VR, AR or even MR (= Mixed Reality) glasses for the very first time. Google’s Cardboard felt nice for a first glimpse into the virtual space in 2015, but today’s HMDs (= Head Mounted Displays) such as HTC’s Vive, Oculus‘ Rift or Sony’s Playstation VR let you enter the metaverse with your complete body and emotions. The day Microsoft announced the Hololens was a very special day for me. I remember me and one of my colleagues being excited like children convinced this will be a game changer for our industry. And it was indeed a magic experience for me to put Microsoft’s Hololens on my head more than one year later at DIGILITY and move objects by gestures without having anything „real“ in my hands. Once I focused on a hologram with gaze, my gestures allowed me to interact with holograms or to hunt monsters. The holotour, as shown in the video below, is amazing.
Fascinated techies, bored consumers?
Whenever I’m talking to someone who is not involved in the tech industry, they look at me like an alien. Most people can’t understand my fascination and my firm determination to bring AR and VR experiences to everyone. And maybe this is as normal as long as not everybody out there got in touch with the technologies yet or had the chance to try demos themselves. But from time to time I can see the light in the eyes of my vis-à-vis and then I’m infecting people while talking about AR. The launch of Pokémon Go was one of the most helpful moments in letting people see what augmented reality really is. No more abstract explaining about overlaying visual content over real world experiences. Just seeing. A technology is established when no one thinks about the technology anymore. I couldn’t believe it myself. After years of doing missionary work for AR myself, Pokémon took over and made people having an exhilarating experience.
The daily download numbers in July reached 26 millions and the revenue per day was more than 16 million USD. So far the question, if one can earn money with AR could clearly be answered with a YES and suddenly more companies got interested and the hype started. To be fair, I need to say that Pokémon’s revenues strongly decreased and I don’t know anyone around me who is still battling, but there will be more games and useful applications which are expected to make our everyday life easier in the future.
July: $16 million September: $2 million
July: 27,000,000 September: 700,000 pic.twitter.com/QiBp5T5NvQ
— The Int’l Spectator (@intlspectator) 8. Dezember 2016
DIGI CAPITAL announced that „Augmented/Virtual Reality revenue forecast has to be revised to hit $120 billion by 2020“ (AR = 90 billion USD, VR = 30 billion USD). But it’s a fact which cannot be denied, there is still a lot of work to do. The main challenges of augmented reality are still hardware and software limitations, expensive and complex content creation as well as a need of new interaction models and services which even don’t exist yet. But as soon as AR hits the consumer market, it will have a deep impact to all of us and it will change the way we interact with each other and how we use and think technology.
All I want for Christmas this year?
2016 was supposed to be the year of virtual reality. So what did really happen out there? A lot of new devices came to the market, hundreds of events popped up and showcased VR experiences. But did it really infect consumers out there? Some days ago I asked my peer group on Twitter and Facebook about VR and if it plays a role on their Christmas wish list this year. The fact that only 16 people answered, showed that there is still not much interest on a consumer base and the replies (It’s still too expensive. The technology is not ready yet.) were speaking for themselves. And again, I’m very much convinced that this lack of interest is due to the fact that there is not much chance of really trying out VR experiences if you don’t know anyone with a VR headset.
Some weeks ago I went to a bigger German consumer electronics store in my city and went directly to the games department checking which VR HMD’s would be available. There was a huge area for Sony’s Playstation VR, dozens of boxes. I asked the guy where I could try it myself and which demos are available. Same reaction: looking at me like an alien: „You can’t play with it here.“ After my question why not and how he thinks he will convince customers to buy a product which costs nearly 400 Euro, he just replied that Nintendo doesn’t offer demos to them [Update: At least I expected to see demos – whoever provides them]. Disillusionment on all sides. But there are also positive approaches: VR pop up stores are coming to bigger cities, a holocafé just opened in Düsseldorf where you can book gaming sessions and try out whatever is possible. Oculus is touring through Germany with a truck since summer this year showcasing in shopping malls. But I’m still not convinced that this Christmas VR will have a huge impact on our holidays. And maybe in times like this, it’s for good.
2017 – Quo vadis VR and AR?
I’m sure 2017 will be an extraordinary year for both technologies. I can’t wait to see what Apple will present in September – rumors are spreading out there already. Robert Scoble just fired a lot of speculations into the tech community and me and my friends are taking bets already. 😉 Let me know what you think in the comments below.
There is a lot of potential of great VR and AR experiences out there and it’s amazing to see how many European companies and developers are actually working on mind-blowing projects.
Let’s see which developments 2017 will have in pocket. I’m happy to work with some of the best developers and companies creating fascinating use cases. I will keep you updated on their projects and also write about ongoings in the tech industry. Let me know what inspires you to work on AR or VR or what you are interested in. Which topics do you want me to cover in this blog? Do you need more insights? Let me know!
Looking forward hearing your feedback!