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2017AR total investment over VR, New Year's 3 opportunities and a taboo
At this time last year, consensus was reached at one point on the outlook for the following year: 2017 will be the year for AR. But interesting things, the progress of things did not imagine so fast, especially in the first half.
It is clear that after Pokmon Go made a huge success in 2016, the public has been very eagerly anticipating the world of AR through the phone's screen. But as the heat falls, we also have to admit that although the game shows the potential of the AR, it is only a very special event. After a year has passed, we have not seen any other AR applications to achieve the "Pokemon Go" height.
So, AR encountered trouble? As technology continues to rise, elaborating on this issue is more complex than finding the next explosion.
Opportunity One: AR application growth is slow, AR investment fully surpass VR
For any new platform you want to take off, you need the right carrier. For AR, at least in the short term, this carrier will be the iPhone. However, Apple did not open ARKit and iOS11 at WWDC until June last year. iOS 11 allows Apple users to experience a more immersive AR effect.
Soon after Google realized that the AR trains seemed to have been farther and farther away, the company immediately launched the ARCore platform for Android phones. ARKit and ARCore, together, enable developers around the world to make AR authoring easier on tens of millions of handsets.
However, in addition to letting more developers use AR development tools and make the consumer market more accessible to the AR experience, it is their greatest challenge to correctly understand what an AR can do and what it can not do. AR is not common technology. A real, immersive AR will change the entire world around us and we will be able to interact with the virtual objects while bringing about changes to the real world.
This new AR paradigm requires a complete rethinking of the computing interface. This is a brand new relationship between users and their devices. For example, there are already AR applications that use GPS to guide users to the streets and have the opportunity to take selfie with virtual celebrities. This function is similar to easter looking for colored eggs and can be used for marketing purposes. However, one thing has to be considered: If people using this AR application are too focused on their cell phones and do not notice the danger around them, what to do? This result can be quite serious. This problem is that many developers must consider.
There are many other problems that will emerge gradually. For example, what if I put a controversial virtual statue in front of your shop while simultaneously hypering on social networking sites and attracting tens of thousands of visitors? The owner has no way to prevent the AR virtual items placed? Earlier "Pokemon Go" Road Museum lawsuit has triggered some thought, but this area is still unknown. In 2018, these AR security-related cases will receive more attention as more applications flood the market.
Two opportunities: AR glasses
On the bright side, investors are still bullish on AR, especially compared to dull VR. The reason behind this is simple: Today's VR is more of an escape from reality. The AR is not limited, but also very friendly for mobile devices.
AR interactions in the real world will start to include everything from bank transactions, driving to disability help. Soon, AR will be able to achieve real-time voice translation, subtitles will be able to emerge in front of the user, just like watching a movie.
These are stunning scenarios for the AR scene, and more obviously, as we use AR more and more frequently, we find that AR is better suited for wearable products such as eyeglasses, not cell phones.
This is why Snapchat Spectacles smart glasses have received so much attention. Although this device adds only a camera that is connected to a mobile application, it is also a large test of whether users are accustomed to interacting with the world with devices worn in front of their eyes. Early experimental results are not optimistic. After gaining some time of concern, the product eventually sold only about 150,000 units and is said to have backloged a lot in the warehouse. This is certainly not a good sign, but it can not be overlooked that this is just a product that has a slight relationship with the AR. After all, we still can not know exactly whether the public is as enthusiastic about small, lightweight AR smartphones as cell phones.
This is why we are so excited about Magic Leap.
For many years, the company has been operating in a secret mode, from time to time through huge financing to shock the market, adding more mystery to their own. We have always believed that Magic Leap's products will have a completely different level of AR technology, or MR technology. In addition to visual and interactive innovations, there are rumors that the company's AR glasses will be about the size of an ordinary glasses. But at this year's OC4, Facebook's engineers said it will take at least five years to reach that level.
Facts have proved that Facebook is right.
In December, Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz finally released his first product, Magic Leap One: Creator Edition. The glasses look smaller than the HoloLens and the Meta 2, much like the glasses that Van Diesel wore in the science fiction movie Pitch Black. In any case, Magic Leap One represents an important step in AR hardware. Having said that, I have not seen anyone around me, except those in the tech industry, express my wish to be able to walk around with such glasses.
Three opportunities: AR box and the gap between the high-end AR glasses
As high-end AR hardware continues to evolve into mainstream favorite wearables, other companies are trying to emulate Google Cardboard's strategy of making AR a cheaper alternative. The most striking feature of last year was Lenovo's Mirage Helmet, which gives users a "Star Wars" experience. Other similar products are Mira Prism, Aryzon and Holokit, the latter two products are actually made of cardboard.
Just like Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR, these products have to be cell phone-driven. However, unlike low-end VR devices that provide only low-end VR experiences, these cell phone-driven AR devices are actually far less satisfactory.
In the coming months, we'll see AR devices from a variety of branded handsets in succession, as many cars and magazines have printed their logo on the Cardboard in 2015 and 2016. At present, in addition to Lenovo, this bundled AR devices are rare. Most people have not heard of Mira Prism, but HoloLens developer AfterNow has just released a game called "AlienWave" that enables space war games in AR.
"From the trends we observed in 2017, we predict that large companies' investment in AR glasses will grow rapidly by 2018," said AfterNow founder Philippe Lewicki.
But are cheaper AR handsets boxes capable of satisfying people who are waiting for AR head-ends that are cheap and easy to use? The market will give an answer in the coming months. At present, the signal is not clear enough, Mirage can only show lightsabers and holographic chess only. In this area between mobile AR and HoloLens, there is a lack of a suitable product.
Taboo: confusing mixed reality (Mixed Reality)
It also leads us to another important trend in 2017: the rise of the concept of "mixed reality." This may be one of the most uncertain technological terms we have encountered in recent years. Some people think that the term "augmented reality" will be less and less appropriate, since its original meaning is nothing more than the superposition of virtual objects in the real world.
Proponents of mixed reality argue that mixed reality refers to the fact that virtual objects can react to maps mapped in space, enabling users to interact more directly with virtual objects and at the same time precisely locate them.
But the term also adds a lot of unwanted complexity to the very young AR industry, especially since AR already has too many products and features that are hard to define.
Even with the help of a chart, MR's boundaries can become blurred as consumers try to understand it.
Most recently, VR pioneer Jaron Lanier, a man who invented the term "virtual reality," gave a lecture on a debate in Seattle about some of the controversies between AR and MR.
"To mix reality or augment reality, many people think there's a clear line between them."
In his opinion, this argument is totally unnecessary.
I agree very much with this statement. If it is from an academic point of view, clear AR and MR is necessary. But if you just want ordinary users to understand these concepts, and more importantly, sell your products, using AR more often is a smart choice. MR will only make consumers more confused.
The word "mixed" itself, whether it is mixed food, mixed people or mixed technology, its definition has always been not clear. Hanging this word in front of your product means you have to constantly explain what it means to be "mixed" here.
Nowadays people say that mixing reality just because they want to express a more immersive AR experience. So direct AR completely no problem.
Microsoft is more confusing MR's problems. The company has always referred to its own VR head as a Windows MR head display. But these products obviously have nothing to do with MR, just VR.
We can understand that Microsoft may add MR elements to these products in the future so that the head will switch between VR and AR as desired. But at present, Microsoft's practice is to muddy the water, so that consumers are more confused. According to Google search data, the number of people searching for "mixed reality" in 2017 has risen sharply. This is not because MR has suddenly become a new hot spot, but because Microsoft has spent some effort on branding.
There are even people who start to use the word "XR" to confuse non-professionals.
Imagine that in the next five or ten years, when force feedback, temperature, humidity and other information are able to get feedback in the VR, someone suddenly told you that you can not call it VR again because of its immersiveness It is now different from the past. This sounds stupid.
So, stop it. It's hard enough for consumers to adopt the new platform. At its simplest, VR lets you immerse yourself in a virtual environment where AR can bring virtual objects to life. And MR is just an unnecessary phrase to describe a more advanced AR.
AR did not erupt in 2017, but AR did reach more mainstream users with the efforts of Snapchat, Facebook, retailers and iOS. These advances have allowed AR applications and devices to enter the market faster, setting the stage for further maturity.
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