While communicating with investors and journalists last year, I could not help noticing their interest “… BUT partly mixed with pessimism” regarding the Augmented Reality sphere.
This is primarily due to the “gap” between the beautiful concepts and the lack of commercially successful solutions and companies on the market (gaming, B2B, etc.).
The technological reason for the lack of commercial results is that almost all solutions up to 2012 were based on markers (including markers-“pictures”, i.e. markerless).
But the biggest problem of the marker – the user does not want to waste time on printing it out!
No matter how beautiful and of high quality is the solution you create and how much money you invest in the marketing – everything comes down to the problem of markers – no one wants to print anything
Because of this issue the Augmented Reality solutions with markers had their “user value” only in very narrow segments, such as additional interactive “layer” of advertising in printed magazines or btl-campaigns.
In all other spheres such solutions received good reviews during test demonstrations, but didn’t show any serious business results.
That is why the reputation of Augmented reality has been damaged in the eyes of investors.
What has changed in 2012?
Beside the Augmented Reality solutions with markers there are two other basic technologies (more complex to implement than the recognition of “markers”), which potentially can be used – it’s SLAM and AR, working on sensors (gyro, accelerometer, compass, gps).
Their advantage is that in order to use applications based on these two technologies, the user does not need to print anything.
Just launch it and nothing more!
And In 2012 AR industry got two technologies for mobile phones that can be used – it’s SLAM, integrated into the SDK from Metaio and the platform GlorAR (AR based on sensors from AR23D Studio).
It was also announced that Dekko was going to develop the SLAM technology and games.
All experts definitely agree that SLAM is the ideal technology for the Augmented reality, but for the moment everything that is on the market doesn’t work or works badly.
My colleagues and I, for example, weren’t able to start any of the games based on SLAM neither at home nor in the office – it could be used only under some specific conditions.
So our forecast – in the next 2-3 years we see AR solutions mainly based on platforms similar to GlorAR – i.e. mix of SLAM and sensor-based AR (we are seriously working on SLAM too, but have not decided to release any market product yet – too many restrictions in the use of the technology to satisfy users expectations for now).
With the significant increase of mobile phones power and the appearance of glasses the new “era of SLAM” will start, but only those will benefit in it, who will be able to create content on the basis of existing technologies and platforms in the next 2-3 years.
No doubt the markers have played their role in the development of Augmented Reality, but they weren’t lucky – they need to be printed. The second reason of their unpopularity – the absence of common AR browser on mobile devices.
That’s why in the next 2-4 years we should expect commercially successful projects in the sphere of Augmented Reality only on the basis of SLAM and AR, based on sensors.
You wonder if markers can come back?
Yes, they can, but only with the creation of common (i.e. pre-installed) AR browser on mobile phones and glasses. But in any case, the use of markers will remain limited.
This is the reason we suggest all journalists and investors to have a closer look on AR technologies and platforms, such as SLAM and AR, based on sensors, and in particular on those that can be easily ported on Google Glass etc.