Predictions 2018: AR/VR Coming to a Workplace Near You

Statistica's projection based on data from Goldman Sachs for total market value of both VR and AR is $35 billion by 2025. This market is going nowhere but up.

Virtual.reality

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: “Augmented reality and virtual reality, long the domains of fringe players in the IT and gaming worlds, will soon come into mainstream consumer usage and to enterprises to aid business production.”

You probably stopped me.

If you haven’t heard that prediction, you haven’t been paying attention. If you’ve heard it and didn’t really buy it, you’re not alone. If you’ve heard it and totally believe it, then 2018 may actually be the year you are vindicated.

For the record: Virtual reality is software is computer technology that uses virtual reality headsets or multi-projected environments, sometimes in combination with physical environments or props, to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that simulate a user's physical presence in a virtual or imaginary environment. A person using virtual reality equipment is able to "look around" the artificial world, and with high-quality VR move around in it and interact with virtual features or items.

The effect is commonly created by VR headsets consisting of a head-mounted display with a small screen in front of the eyes, but can also be created through specially designed rooms with multiple large screens.

Augmented reality is similar to VR in that it is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are "augmented" by computer-generated or extracted real-world sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, haptics or GPS data.

Deloitte Offers Some Market Data Points

Deloitte LLP, for one respected consulting house, is among those that believe augmented/virtual reality will come on strong next year. The projected market data points are impressive.

“In 2018, there will be 1 billion AR apps on smartphones, and a billion users will create AR content at least once; currently 300 million users do so monthly,” Deloitte Vice-Chairman Paul Sallomi said in a media advisory.

“By end of 2018, more than 800 million smartphones will have both an OS with dedicated AR support and sufficiently powerful hardware (CPUs, GPUs, DSPs and neural chips) to power them. Discrete app revenues for AR content and devices to be under $100 million globally in 2018.”  That’s definitely not trivial at this early stage.

Statistica's projection based on data from Goldman Sachs for total market value of both VR and AR is $35 billion by 2025. That's non-trivial, too.

Here are some perspectives from people in the know.

Todd Carothers, Executive Vice-President, sales and marketing, CounterPath: Augmented/virtual reality has matured and will increase its impact in 2018.
Over the last year, VR and AR have made a name for themselves, and a wide range of vertical markets are leveraging the tech with apps that do everything from putting virtual furniture in your room and measuring floor space to putting individuals in the same room together even though they are miles away from each other.”

Kyung Mun, FierceWireless: 5G will help foster AR/VR in 2018.
“As the industry marches toward 5G and all its promises of faster speeds, ultralow latency and massive connections, we wonder what business cases would prompt operators to make 5G network investments. Fancy new applications like connected cars, AR/VR and gaming are certainly alluring and seem likely with ecosystem partners making investments toward these areas in time for 5G network services.”

Costin Tuculescu, Vice-President of Collaboration Products and Marketing, Intermedia: Bringing VR in the workplace will be a challenge.
Despite how much the mobile workforce has expanded, virtual reality is still a novelty idea for businesses and lacks the computing power needed for full integration. Don’t expect to see executives put on a VR helmet to have a meeting anytime soon; phone, email, and video will still serve as the best approach for holding meetings with a distributed office."

Salvador Sandoval, Vice-President of Engineering LogiGear: Enterprises will start thinking about an effective testing strategy for AR/VR.
“While these are still in infancy, test teams need to start thinking about an effective testing strategy for VR/augmented reality. Testing VR/augmented reality has two components: a physical device coupled with a digital experience. The user is fully immersed in a digital environment, or likewise with augmented reality, in which digital ‘enhancements’ are overlaid on the real world. Some of the challenges are going to be starting out with very heavy manual testing on phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop browsers. From a lab perspective, there will be some considerable investment on lab capability since anyone producing these apps is going want to do the usual check on compatibility. Test teams will have to keep a sharp eye on testing the user experience since it is supposed to be an immersive experience. And since this type of testing require users to be more active, one can imagine issues test teams have previously not dealt with before arising. Think mental fatigue, eye strain and other physical discomforts.” 

Gary Weiss, SVP and GM for Security, Analytics, and Discovery, OpenText: The combination of AI and AR/VR will optimize automation.
“AI will reinvent every software company in the coming decades. Paired with other new technologies like AR/VR, AI-backed devices and systems will optimize automation and redefine traditional means of distributing information. For example, students will deploy AR/VR to simulate real-life applications with their curriculum, and AI will deliver all of the relevant materials (content, videos, etc.) to augment the experience.”

Ravi Mayuram, Senior Vice-President of Engineering and CTO, Couchbase: Edge computing leaps to the forefront in 2018.
Cloud computing revolutionized virtualization and ushered in the digital era, and now edge computing will bring those digital learnings back to hardware for applications that extend customer engagement in novel ways. Industrial IoT applications, sensors and VR-powered devices use edge computing to provide offline capabilities that deliver the seamless, real-time experiences modern users expect. Data capabilities and chip technology are now advanced enough to support real-time compute at the edge, and 2018 will see organizations updating infrastructure to take advantage of the benefits of edge computing.”

Hans O’Sullivan, co-founder and CEO of StorMagic: Artificial intellligence and AR/VR will need better centralized software support.
Unsurprisingly, we’ll be seeing many more practical implementations of AI, VR and AR in 2018, but lacking the technology to properly support them could potentially hamper adoption. For instance, for companies in the retail space using an AR application, there is far too much data to send over the WAN and latencies are too high for real-time rendering. As a result, it will be important for these apps to be kept at the edge to ensure positive customer engagement.”
Dell Technologies:

  • AR and VR will continue to grow in influence in 2018.
    “Immersive technologies such as VR and AR will break new ground in the media and entertainment industries as well as continue on its path to becoming the de facto way of maximizing human efficiency and evolving workforces.”
  • We’ll don AR headsets.
    It also won’t be long until the lines between ‘real’ reality and augmented reality begin to blur. AR’s commercial viability is already evident. For instance, teams of construction workers, architects and engineers are using AR headsets to visualize new builds, coordinate efforts based on a single view of a development and train on-the-job laborers when a technician can’t be on site that day.

    “Of course, VR has strong prospects too. It will undoubtedly transform the entertainment and gaming space in the near term, thanks to the immersive experiences it affords, but smart bets are on AR becoming the de facto way of maximizing human efficiency and leveraging the ‘tribal knowledge’ of an evolving workforce.

  • “Bias check” will become the next spell check.
    Over the next decade, emerging technologies such as VR, AI, will help people find and act on information without interference from emotions or external prejudice, while empowering them to exercise human judgment where appropriate.

    “In the short term, we’ll see AI applied to hiring and promotion procedures to screen for conscious and unconscious bias. Meanwhile VR will increasingly be used as an interview tool to ensure opportunities are awarded on merit alone, e.g. by masking a prospective employee’s true identity with an avatar. By using emerging technologies to these ends, ‘bias check’ could one day become a routine sanitizer, like ‘spell check’--but with societywide benefits.”

Forrester Research: AR to offer more opportunities than VR for marketers in the next 3 years.
This isbecause AR is a more natural extension of existing mobile behaviors and does not require the use of new and expensive equipment, offering more marketing use cases and a broader reach. Contact us for a copy of how brands can reap the rewards of AR to engage with customers.

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he...