2020 Will Be Another Promising Year for Augmented Reality Market, with Increased Adoption, Better Hardware, and 5G Ready Devices.

by Eleftheria Kouri | 1Q 2020 | IN-5714

 

New AR Consumer Smartglass Preparing Users for Future Fashionable, Standalone, All-Day AR Smartglasses

NEWS


Undoubtedly, 2020 will be another promising year for the Augmented Reality (AR) smartglass market both for consumers and enterprises, following announcements from Bosch, Magic Leap, Oppo, North, Nreal, and Niantic. Improvements in design and ergonomics are among the main priorities for manufacturers, especially for consumer AR smartglasses. Both Bosch and North are emphasizing the design of their smartglasses in order to be “socially acceptable” and modern, similar to ordinary glasses, and lightweight enough to allow extended usage during the day. In addition, Nreal Light for consumers will be available for order in early 2020, focusing on interactive gaming and entertainment (watching movies/TV). Moreover, Magic Leap announced an updated version of its consumer Magic Leap One replaced by Magic Leap 1 plus the commercial availability of its enterprise edition, the Enterprise Suite. Magic Leap is focused on updating the operating system and software, which focus on enterprise applications including 3D visualization and design, employee remote assistance, location-based AR experiences, etc. Moreover, new players will enrich the AR smartglass market, providing a wider range of options to users; Oppo, the smartphone manufacturer, is expected to expand its product portfolio and launch an AR headset similar to HoloLens in design and suitable both for consumer and enterprise applications in the first quarter of 2020.

AR Smartglasses Will Become More Accessible to Smaller Business and Consumers

IMPACT


The introduction of new AR glasses will democratize more AR solutions in 2020. More specifically, it is expected that the wider competition, in combination with technological advancements, will spur decreased prices, allowing more business to implement AR solutions and more consumers to consider experimenting with AR tools beyond mobile based gaming/entertainment applications. Fashionable design and higher quality materials are critical features for consumer smartglass mainstream adoption; Bosch and Focals have an advantage in the market due to their planned slim/sharp frames and light weight. In addition, another advantage is the fact that they do not include an embedded camera, which may encourage purchases for socially conscious and public usage. However, Bosch and Focals lack the capability for more interactive and immersive Mixed Reality (MR) applications and are limited only to hands-free accessing/controlling smartphone applications and notifications.

The introduction of HoloLens 2 in 2019 reshaped the enterprise AR smartglass market and raised expectations about AR potential, thanks to the advanced technology and improved user experience. However, the high price doesn’t indicate a massive adoption, especially from Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), but other important AR players, such as Lenovo, Magic Leap, and Oppo, are able to address the price issue by offering technological capable and lightweight devices suitable for complex enterprise applications at a relatively more affordable price. Enterprise AR devices still need improvements, with main consideration points being Field of View (FoV), display resolution, User Interface (UI), spatial awareness, ergonomics, and weight.

Qualcomm announced its second-generation Extended Reality (XR) platform, the Snapdragon XR2 5G Platform, which is specifically designed for AR/Virtual Reality (VR) hardware, unlocking new opportunities for XR experiences thanks to 5G connectivity and Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities. AR/VR device performance and User Experience (UX) will be significantly optimized thanks to the improved Central Processing Unit (CPU) and Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) capabilities, dedicated computer vision processor, high video resolution support, silicon level Artificial Intelligence (AI) processing, lower latency, foveated rendering support, and more accurate tracking. In addition, thanks to AI support devices leveraging Qualcomm XR will be smarter and more predictive, offering more tailored experiences to the users. At the same time, the enhanced situational awareness will be catalytic for use cases where accuracy is mission critical, enterprise-focused especially. Niantic is one of the companies that will leverage XR2 Platform to offer more immersive AR experiences in scale.

In 2020 Partnerships and Acquisitions Will Flourish, Leading to Advanced Devices and Enriched AR Content 

RECOMMENDATIONS


2020 will be another promising year for the AR market with improved and new applications, optimized AR Software Development Kits (SDKs), new and updated AR smartglasses, and many successful implementations.

In 2020 the consumer AR smartglass market has a better potential to capture consumer interest and increase customer base. In accordance with ABI Research’s latest Augmented and Mixed Reality Market Data: Devices, Use Cases, Verticals, and Value Chain (MD-AMR-103), it is estimated that consumer AR smartglass shipments will reach almost 425,000 devices worldwide. The new announcements of consumer smartglasses indicate that the market and the available technology have dramatically matured compared to two to three years ago, and manufacturers now have a better understanding of AR consumer applications that add real value to users’ daily lives. Also, 2020 will be a year of more fashionable AR glasses, with manufacturers steadily addressing the size and design issue by using modern materials and styles that are finally similar ordinary glasses. Modern design, the affordable price, and most importantly the wider range of valuable applications are the main features that will drive growth of the consumer AR smartglass. However, 2020 will still not be a year of consumer AR smartglass massive adoption not only because of the price and design but also due to the intense competition from smartphones and other wearables such as smartwatches. Consumer AR smartglasses need some killer apps to go mainstream, which will deliver more value than smartphones and smartwatches and more natural/realistic experiences. Undoubtedly, immersion and hands-free interaction are the main advantage points of AR smartglass, and there has not been a universally compelling application leveraging those advantages for consumers just yet. The experience from smartwatches has proved that smartphone control has gained consumer interest due to their flexibility and freedom; consequently, a hands-free access/control implementation that allows users to remain focused on their task has a greater potential to become mainstream.

Moreover, 2020 will be a year in which partnerships and collaborations will flourish in both the enterprise and consumer markets. It is expected that more smartglass manufacturers will collaborate with telecom operators, AI, and AR cloud providers in order to benefit from 5G speeds and optimize the situational awareness of the devices to deliver more immersive and accurate experiences. In addition, collaborations and Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) around content providers will continue in 2020, especially from large consumer companies already working on AR devices such as Samsung, Apple, Facebook, etc.