Reality Will Find Its Way Into Your Life in 2018 and Beyond

Remember when Pokémon Go came out in 2016? It was all anyone talked about. Which isn’t too surprising — it was most people’s first impression of a promised future many of us had waited for, something we’d seen only in sci-fi books or Hollywood blockbusters.

This technology is augmented reality (AR). Augmented reality is the integration of virtual experiences with everyday objects and environments, making it different from virtual reality (VR), which is 100 computer generated, and mixed reality (MR), which combines both.

While the past few years have been VR-focused (think Oculus Rift and all those other gaming headsets), AR is taking center stage and will soon become a blue chip industry for entrepreneurs, in industries from marketing to health care to navigation.

Here are three ways augmented reality will find its way into your life sooner than you might expect:

1. A pair of glasses you can’t live without
The problem with AR in past years was that powerful AR glasses were extremely bulky and costly. And the simpler ones released for consumer use, like Google Glass, have had much lower processing power, so you can’t do too much with them.

Perhaps the most refined AR headset out there right now is the Microsoft HoloLens, but its price point is a bit painful, at $3,000. And it’s got a headset which — while still too big and unwieldy — is nevertheless the most fully realized AR headset available for developers right now.

Certainly, Microsoft could make some improvements before the HoloLens is released to the general public, but despite all these drawbacks, it’s still pretty incredible.

We’re also seeing some new companies with ambitious goals appear on the scene. Magic Leap recently updated its website to show off its new MR headset, Lightwear. But there are some caveats here: There is no accompanying video, and skeptics believe that the headset displayed may just be a pre-rendering of an as-of-yet-unfinished product.

Meanwhile, over in China, Rokid is another emerging AR player to watch. The company has a history of building popular AI-enabled products for the Chinese market (with an Alibaba partnership to boot). And it recently announced Rokid Glass for 2018. Also, unlike most of the competition, Rokid intends to release Rokid Glass directly to consumers. The product will debut in a few weeks at CES 2018 in Vegas.

The message here, then, is that once AR glasses become convenient, affordable and widely adopted — the real magic will happen.

2. More immersive (and personalized) marketing
Think of any science fiction movie you’ve seen in the past 10 years and you’ll probably remember at least one scene in which holographic advertisements were the real stars (Blade Runner 2049 offers a prime example of just such a product placement).

How far off are we from a future in which giant, holographic cans of Coco-Cola cans dominate our billboards? Not as far as you’d think. Just check out this video of an interdimensional portal built with ARKit. Prepare to have your mind blown wide open.

Granted, the vast majority of AR and VR experiences today are focused on better, more immersive video games. But that’s a symptom of the current developer community rather than a result of AR technology itself. Once more digital marketers start to really internalize the almost limitless potential of AR, we’ll begin to see this content everywhere we go.