From Apple and Microsoft to nReal and Niantic, Established Tech Giants and Risk-Taking New Comers are Pushing AR Innovation

ABI Research’s Hot Tech Innovators report identifies new and notable AR form factor and use cases
01 May 2019

ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies, examined the current Augmented Reality market and identified a selection of the most exciting and potentially impactful innovations and the companies behind them.

“The past 12 months have brought about a quickening of announcements and improvements on existing products across the entire augmented reality market,” says Eric Abbruzzese, Research Director at ABI Research. “Activity among major technology firms like Apple and Microsoft is ongoing, as is grassroots innovation around new use cases, products, and experiences. Major hardware announcements have been joined by exciting new ventures in 5G, AI, retail, toys, gaming, and more, leading to a richer yet more complex ecosystem.”

Both consumer and enterprise ecosystems are seeing a progression. Enterprise-focused hardware players, such as RealWear and Microsoft, continue to carve out their potential value for corporate endeavors through high ROI use cases like remote expertise and training. These enterprise endeavors need backends to help manage devices and visualize collected data, which is where companies like Augmate and Virtualitics come in. New hardware entrants like North and nReal are chasing the ideal smart glasses form factor, which may not be specifically targeted at consumers, but does meet form factor expectations for the space. Others sit somewhere in between: Magic Leap is searching for their next headline with telecom partnerships, Mira is taking a mobile VR like approach to AR with a head-mounted phone housing, and Niantic (Pokemon Go developers) is expanding their IP into 5G-enabled location-based opportunities.

“Innovation is spread between companies small and large in AR currently, which is unique,” concludes Abbruzzese. “Some of the biggest names in tech are also the biggest names in AR. At the same time, grassroots efforts to improve existing devices, use cases, and content are some of the riskiest, yet most interesting endeavors for smaller companies. Pushing hardware before a market is mature or pushing new functionality to hardware that’s still rough around the edges is critical to moving a market forward, and AR has seen, and will continue to see, plenty of both.”                           

These findings are from ABI Research’s Hot Tech Innovators: Augmented and Mixed Reality report. This report is part of the company’s Augmented and Virtual Reality research service, which includes research, data, and Executive Foresights. Hot Tech Innovators reports focus on companies at the forefront of transformational innovation, particularly those that are younger and less well-known than the incumbents, at the technological forefront of their markets, developing new business models, destabilizing the current market and prime acquisition targets.


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ABI Research is a global technology intelligence firm delivering actionable research and strategic guidance to technology leaders, innovators, and decision makers around the world. Our research focuses on the transformative technologies that are dramatically reshaping industries, economies, and workforces today.

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