Will 2017 be the year augmented reality is embraced by the workplace?

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  • 2016 could have been described as ‘the year of Pokémon GO’ – a year when the global popularity of augmented reality apps that were specifically designed for consumers, including AR games like Niantic’s Pokémon GO, brought the concept of immersive technologies well and truly into the mainstream.

    The extraordinary runaway success of the Pokémon GO app last year, which saw millions of players around the world suddenly begin hunting down virtual Pokémon in the real world via their smartphones, initially added an incredible $9 billion to Nintendo’s share price (although a lot of those gains were given back after the app’s popularity waned).

    Recent research from the technology market research company, Juniper Research, though, indicates that business applications of augmented reality technologies are actually set to eclipse the consumer AR market in the very near future. The firm’s forecasts suggest the global revenues deriving from enterprise AR apps will climb to $5.7 billion by 2021, rising tenfold from an estimated $515 million in 2016.

    Juniper suggests business interest in augmented reality technologies will continue to grow at a significant rate in 2017, fuelled by improvements in field-of-vision and latency on Head Mounted Displays (HMDs). Future releases of these dedicated augmented reality units, such as the Microsoft HoloLens, are expected to drive AR content revenues in the enterprise sector, as businesses begin favouring head mounted displays in the workplace over smartphones and tablets.

    That said, a number of market forecasts have predicted that the bespoke, tailored nature of content in the enterprise AR sector, such as DAQRI’s partnerships with Hyperloop and Siemens, will initially lead to higher app prices.

    Enterprise AR revenues are also forecast to remain on smartphone and tablet devices in the near term, given the prohibitive cost of dedicated AR hardware. However, a heavy enterprise-focus from manufacturers, including Microsoft and Vuzix, within the next year or two should see the largest revenue opportunity for AR content developers move from phones and tablets to Head Mounted Displays within the next three years.

    For now, though, the combination of higher content pricing and the prohibitive cost of dedicated augmented reality hardware could hamper adoption of AR in the workplace this year, with only the earliest tech-adopters in the enterprise space willing to embrace the technology in 2017.


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