Augmented Reality Gets Pandemic Boost

An article on Wall Street Journal last week garnered a lot of attention, as it addresses important use cases of Augmented Reality technology. The increased demand for AR is expected to continue for the next five years, in no small part due to increased industry adoption during the pandemic. Companies such as L’Oréal SA and Mercedes-Benz USA integrated AR in 2020 to provide remote assistance for both consumers and employers in real-time.

L’Oréal have recently launched several AR projects, such as AR tech from ModiFace. This application connects customers with beauty experts for a tele-consultation, and also allows them to virtually try on makeup. HoloLens 2 was also utilised by L’Oréal last summer for troubleshooting and installing equipment with remote expert assistance. Users can see 3D images, instructions, and data in their real-world view. Digital objects can be manipulated using hand gestures, and headset-wearers can share their view via remote assistance software.

By 2025, the total AR market value is anticipated to grow to $140 billion, raised from around $10 billion in 2020. This includes:

  • Hardware (including HoloLens and Glass)
  • Software
  • Content
  • Advertising
  • Platforms
  • Licensing
  • Connectivity

For AR smart glasses alone, total 2020 shipments reached around 1.8 million units, expected to increase to 27 million in 2025. This forecasted growth is attributed to long-term pandemic impact and technological advances.

In some sectors, increased AR demand is part of wider business digital transformation, alongside videoconferencing and cloud computing investments, as a result of the pandemic. CEO of AREA member Vuzix, Paul Travers, claims that this is only the beginning, and that they don’t see AR adoption slowing down. In the last quarter of 2020, Vuzix’s sales doubled compared to the same period in 2019, to over $4 million.

Additionally, Microsoft experienced a “44-fold rise” in HoloLens 2 remote assistance usage between January and December of 2020. Charlie Han, Principal Program Manager of Microsoft HoloLens, has stated that growth has increased rapidly in auto and semiconductor manufacturing for remote guidance on installations and complex tasks.

Last summer, Mercedes-Benz USA trained over 1200 automotive technicians on how to operate HoloLens 2 at all 383 US dealerships. Vice President of Customer Services at Mercedes-Benz USA, Christian Treiber, has said that previously, technicians could wait days for field service engineers to travel to them for help. Using the HoloLens 2 headset, 60% of complex problems can be solved within 24 hours. Technicians can now connect with specialists immediately, and share the same view to solve problems efficiently.

Since 2019, Mercedes-Benz had plans to deploy HoloLens 2 headsets to dealerships, but the increased value of the technology due to the pandemic accelerated this. However, Treiber acknowledges that it will be around three years before AR headsets are as widely accepted as other tools

Read the full article here.

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