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AR technology growing rapidly, and it could soon become bigger than VR. In fact, it’s predicted that by 2020, AR market revenue will reach $120 billion four times higher than VR revenue. The reason for this is simple. Unlike VR, which requires expensive equipment, AR can be deployed on smartphones or tablets, making it more accessible and far cheaper. Plus, AR is more realistic. While VR puts the user into a completely different, immersive environment, AR uses our existing environment and enriches it with virtual objects.
Many brands have taken notice of this technology, and are implementing AR to improve their bottom line. For instance, in 2017, IKEA released the IKEA Place AR app. The app is based on the ‘try before you buy’ concept. Using the app, customers can see the IKEA furniture in their homes before making a purchase. All they need to do is scan the space with a smartphone camera and choose the item they want to view. IKEA Place features more than 3,000 items in its catalogue, ranging from chairs to desks and numerous other furniture pieces necessary for any home. The innovation provides 98 % accuracy, and it’s so precise that users can even see the texture of the fabric.
Clearly, there are countless ways to use AR. For example, thanks to this technology, you’ll never get lost in a new city. The tech company Blippar created the AR City app to help users navigate around cities. Conventional navigation apps rely on 2D maps. However, Blippar uses 3D maps and AR to outline where the user should go. This is much more engaging than using a standard GPS. Simply enter your destination into the app, and it will showcase a walking route in AR for you to follow. The app also features the locations of restaurants, shops, and hotels. So far, cities such as San Francisco and London have been mapped in AR City, but the plan is to help users navigate around 300 cities worldwide. Recently, Blippar also developed a solution for indoor environments. Its Visual Positioning System also uses computer vision to help customers and tenants better navigate around larger spaces such as stadiums, shopping malls, and airports. The best thing about it is that it can be used in offline mode, too. The new technology is still being tested, and if everything goes according to plan, it will be released in 2019.
Although both of Blippar’s innovations are impressive, visually impaired users will find them useless. However, researchers from the California Institute of Technology might have a solution. They created a system for the Microsoft HoloLens called Cognitive Augmented Reality Assistant (CARA) to help blind people navigate around different spaces. CARA adds auditory information to physical spaces by giving each object a voice. For instance, when users wearing a HoloLens headset enter a new building, each object inside the space will say its name. So, for instance, if they move their head toward a lamp, it will identify itself as a lamp. Moreover, CARA will tell the user when to turn right and left or climb stairs.
The system has been previously tested with seven blind respondents, all of whom managed to successfully find their destination using this solution.
Besides serving as a navigation tool, HoloLens technology could also be used in military applications. According to, the US Army hired Microsoft to manufacture 100,000 HoloLens headsets for military training and combat missions. Each headset will be equipped with thermal sensors and night vision capabilities. The goal is to enable soldiers to better detect and respond to potential threats using AR technology. But the US Army isn’t the first to adopt Microsoft’s HoloLens technology. The Israeli military, for instance, has been using this tech as part of its training for quite some time now. However, this is the first time that HoloLens will be used in the battlefield. The US Army will receive 2,500 headsets in the next two years, and if those headsets meet all the necessary requirements, Microsoft will continue with large-scale production.