Ori Inbar is the organizer of the Augmented World Expo and the Executive Director of AugmentedReality.org. After a slight delay from the scheduled time at the show while Ori was addressing physical realities of the dynamics of a several hundred attendee show logistics on opening day, we sat down for a short talk on AR, VR, where the industry is and where he thinks it is going.
The first topic was will the technology hold this time and is there a monetization model for it. Ori felt that just like mobile, the monetization plan starts with the business and industrial sector. There is a ramp and a learning curve and the tech has to get a foothold, but once it does the applications advance and the products become standard. This is what is happening now with Augmented Reality (AR) in the enterprise and life science space. Manufacturing, ICT & Enterprise are both embracing and driving the monetization of the technology in the areas of training and for technicians. This is the first stage like the transition from “block” phones to flip phones in Mobile.
The next transition was moving these flip phones to large display phones/PDAs and then smart phones. This was a consumer driven cycle and primarily driven by the experience of the phone. This is similar to Virtual Reality (VR) which is still incubating and trying to hone in on the correct experience for the market. Just like the smart phones were driven by the content of the app creation marketplace, a similar content availability needs to take place for VR.
Ori continued, that there is a use model difference, since VR is a closed screen, it is a download based product. All of the content is created and scripted for consumption such as films, games, travel replays and documentary style information. AR on the other hand is a see-through overlay type of experience. The content is typically streamed to the unit in real time based on the situation and feedback from a camera or the user and providing direction. This creates a dynamic content environment, and it is also much more familiar to the user. The AR market is starting to get consumer gaming and other interactive tasks in development already. An example is companies like Lyteshot that are at the expo.
All of this means the evolution is progressing. There are new and exciting applications coming to market every day such as Recon Instruments new ReconJet eyeware to bring AR glasses as an overlay display device for an SAP mobile app. The Recon Jet comes preloaded with software for sports and athletes. Cyclists and runners can see their performance metrics such as speed/pace, distance, duration, ascent/descent, heart rate, cadence, and power. The eyeware has a developer’s kit for further integration with smartphones and that sort of work will bring the product to the consumer market.
He continued that right now the AR and VR worlds are diverse and competitive, but standards are coming in. This will help developers as they can target larger markets for their efforts, not must one model or vendor and it should help with the content creation and availability issues. Another big advance is common terminology; there is an effort to standardize a language for AR and VR which will allow the community to converse and share ideas more rapidly. Ori indicated that this is what is needed to help tie the community together. In short – AR will stick in the market this time, and VR has a good chance also, but it is up to the community to listen to the customers, not just develop for themselves.