Augmented Reality Set to Boom for Enterprises
The Augmented Reality for Enterprise Alliance (AREA) recently released guidelines for augmented-reality (AR) device development. The standards are designed to provide a baseline for AR hardware and software requirements.
AREA lays out key components necessary for AR hardware, including batteries that last at least 12 hours (six hours if hot-swapped), 128 gigabytes of onboard storage and Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity. It also specifies parameters for field of vision, sound and wearability, specifying maximum device weight and preferred display resolution.
On the software side, the organization lists the types of content that users should be able to access via APIs, including PDF files, HTML, MP4 videos and 3-D content. Software should be able to access data via cloud, local smart device or a secured server. It should also support authentication and content encryption for device security. In addition, AR devices should be able to take photos and record video, zooming in and rotating displayed content. Applications should also be device-agnostic, working with multiple operating systems and devices including phones, tablets and head-mounted displays.
AREA released the guidelines as a way to start governing the growing ecosystem of AR devices, making it clear that leaders envision a place for AR in the enterprise.
“One of the major challenges of deploying AR and virtual reality (VR) has been the lack of standards for hardware, software and interfaces,” Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, told Computerworld.
Augmented Reality at Work
IDC predicts that both VR and AR will skyrocket by 2021. First, it’s expected to hit $13.9 billion in 2017. It should then expand at a compound annual growth rate of 198 percent, reaching $143.3 billion by 2020. Consumer spending will lead early on, with discrete manufacturing and retail as early industry adopters.
Tom Mainelli, manager of IDC’s Devices and Displays group, writes in a recent Tech.pinions column that he expects AR to overtake VR in the enterprise. Although it requires significant computing power to render real-time external images and accessed content within the same visual field, AR is valuable to both employees and consumers.
“For some workers, an AR device will replace the sometimes awkward use of a notebook, tablet or smartphone. For others, it will be additive, used for new processes and sometimes for client-facing scenarios,” Mainelli writes. “As I talk to companies working in this space, the theme that consistently emerges is they are creating products that will fundamentally change the way future generations will get work done. It’s not just about creating gee-whiz visuals; it is about driving new ways of thinking, creating and demonstrating ideas.”
Key Players in the New Ecosystem
Hardware and software for AR, says Mainelli, create a chicken-and-egg conundrum for industry growth. Developers need great available hardware to frame innovative applications, but hardware manufacturers also need an efficient developer ecosystem to justify AR investments.
So far, the usual suspects are launching AR devices and applications. The Microsoft HoloLens runs Windows 10, while other AR devices rely on Android. Apple has also made significant acquisitions in the AR sphere, and according to Patently Apple, the company recently received a patent for a “wearable information system.”