I’ve been passionate (okay, obsessed) with the possibilities of Augmented Reality (AR) for about a year and half. I’m going to be writing a lot about emerging technologies on this blog and wanted to share with you my thoughts on three emerging trends for AR in 2011.
Dialing down the disillusionment
Read Write Web’s article, Prepare Yourselves: Augmented Reality is on the Rise from August, 2009 provided a good perspective for marketers to be leery of AR if it it’s used solely as a gimmick. They post Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2009 which shows that by the end of 2010 we should still be in the ‘trough of disillusionment.’ I speak about AR all the time and a number of marketers focus on this part of the cycle, claiming the technology is purely a gimmick and a trend that has lost its luster.
However, as I said in Augmented Reality for Public Relations: Implications of the Outernet on Commerce and Culture (video version here) the bells and whistles factor has actually gotten in the way of AR’s bigger value. And Gartner tends to agree. Note that we’re actually ahead of the game in terms of the hype cycle with AR according to Gartner’s graph—mobile phone payment systems (see this Engadget article) and speech recognition (see this PC World article) already exist versus being introduced in the next five to 10 years. According to Gartner, we’re in the “slope of enlightenment” where AR is moving toward the mainstream. However, technologies in the space appear to be moving faster than the graph indicates, which leads me to predict the following:
First trend: In 2011 AR will go mainstream and become a standard part of the marketing mix.
The primary reason this is the case is because smartphone hardware that will support the use of AR will begin to become ubiquitous in the U.S. Consumers are already used to downloading apps and utilizing shopping technologies in-store. Sources like Morgan Stanley are also predicting that the Mobile Web Will dominate over PC usage by 2015 including technologies that support retail and other uses commonly associated with AR.
Thomas Husson, in his report for Forrester, Mobile Augmented Reality: Beyond the Hype, A Glimpse Into the Mobile Future also notes that “drivers for growth are in place (for AR) and this technology is likely to merge with many others such as visual search, barcodes, and NFC (Near-Field Communications).”
It’s the merging of these various technologies that will allow consumers to shop, connect, and search fluidly via applications and devices where Augmented Reality is the gateway for all of these behaviors. As I noted in iMedia last year about this time in Augmented Reality: What Marketers Need to Know , people should , “think of AR as their personalized digital butler, who will get to know your behavior so specifically that it can prethink your choices based on your friends, location, and how you search online.”
Husson agrees with the assessment that AR is a paradigm shifter. This is from the description of his Forrester report:
In the years to come, it (Augmented Reality) will be a disruptive technology changing the way consumers interact with their environments. It will bridge the real and digital worlds, enabling new ways to engage with customers via advanced digital interactivity. Because mobile AR makes the most of unique mobile attributes, it will help in transforming mobile phones as the new remote control of our personal daily lives.
And with the advent of Social TV in 2011 the idea of a remote control of our personal daily lives becomes even more interesting, but that’s a trend for another blog post.