1. AR is growing
The Venture Reality Fund now tracks more than 380 companies on the AR landscape, a 33% increase from 2018. Apple has been slow to launch its rumored AR hardware technology, but others aren’t waiting.
2. HMD (head-mounted display) AR is in a transition
It is moving from the first generation to a new generation. As a result, early players like Daqri, CastAR, and ODG shut down and Meta was resurrected as MetaView.
Current generation AR companies like MagicLeap and RealWear continue to be funded and Microsoft is about to release Version 2 of Hololens, which the Venture Reality Fund believes will have a big impact in further AR enterprise adoption.
For consumers, companies are launching specialized hardware, like North’s Focals smart glasses, Form’s AR swimming goggles or Bose AR’s audio-only sunglasses.
Neither Microsoft, Magic Leap nor others have announced when their consumer versions will be available. General purpose HMD AR devices are still a year or two away.
3. Enterprise continues growth trajectory
For software, the main growth is in enterprise solutions and content creation tools across multiple sectors, including automotive, pharmaceutical, and healthcare, among others. The US Army’s $479 million contract with Microsoft Hololens in late 2018 is the biggest validation of enterprise value of AR.
4. AR needs new types of content
The tools category saw expansion of general-purpose tools and for new content forms – specifically volumetric capture. The increased interest in volumetric capture content, which works for both AR and VR, is partially driven by 5G networks capabilities.
5. Consumer AR content is alive and well
Consumer AR fun continues to grow, mostly on mobile devices. Games are a big hit, such as Niantic’s Pokemon Go and Harry Potter Wizards Unite, Tencent’s Let’s Hunt Monsters in China, and the upcoming Minecraft Earth. And, of course, social hilarity from apps like Snap are growing, giving company’s install base a boost.
6. Mobile AR 2.0 is coming
With next-gen AR cloud-enabled software development kits (SDKs) due at year end, you can expect to see even richer interactions, persistence, global mapping, and multi-user features, all of which will result in a significant uptick in the mobile AR ecosystem.
7. Investments Will Continue
AR is still in early days, but with HMD AR and mobile AR platforms evolution robust ecosystems are building and worthy of continued investment. Overall, AR’s future is bright as we enter a new phase of its growth cycle.