The hype around AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) hit a fever pitch in 2017, and 2018 looks like the year it might finally start to deliver.
AR has actually established a pretty strong foothold. What began with the novelty of Pokemon Go has become a standard expectation for consumers.
Tech companies have more than embraced augmented reality. Apple unveiled its ARKit, a toolkit for developers meant to be used to create augmented reality experiences. That technology was on full display when Apple unveiled its latest line of iPhone devices. Google has ARCore for its developer community. One can’t forget the role Snapchat has played in bringing AR to the masses with its lenses and filters, both of which have been copied to the fullest extent by Facebook.
AR isn’t just for fun in games and social sharing. It has potential to play a massive role in marketing and retail. Gap unveiled DressingRoom in January 2017 that let consumers preview outfits on 3D AR models. Lowe’s has an in-store navigation app to help customers find what they’re looking for faster.
It’s literally improving the customer experience in retail and providing at least one way to stave off encroachment from Amazon.
2018 has the potential to be a big year for VR. It hasn’t taken off nearly as quickly as AR, and much of that issue has been rooted in hardware. It’s expensive to get a computer that can run it and then buy all of the gear necessary to experience it. That's a consideration for the earliest of early adopters.
We’re now starting to see VR devices that don’t require such a significant initial investment. Oculus Go will be launching for $199 this year. It won’t require a computer or smartphone to run. Everything will run in that particular piece of hardware. The technology is starting to become easy to use and experience.
It’s a Matter of Time
The technology for both AR and VR is going to get more pervasive, and the rules are far from written. Brands experimenting with the tech get to invent what the rules are and experiment to find what works. That’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s certainly an exciting opportunity.