Augmented Reality in the Gigabit Age

Augmented Reality will be ubiquitous in the year 2025, according to one of the predictions shaped from the input of over 1,400 people and described in a new Pew Research Internet Report entitled “Killer Apps in the Gigabit Age,” released on October 9, 2014.

How can We Capitalize on New Bandwidth?

The respondents were asked to share their views on new killer apps in the gigabit age: will there be new, distinctive, and uniquely compelling technology applications that capitalize upon significant increases in bandwidth in the US between now and 2025?

The replies were then distilled into seven themes (Figure 1).

Source: Pew Research Center, Sept. 2014, “Killer Apps in the Gigabit Age”

“In 2025, Augmented Reality will enhance people’s sense and understanding of their real-life surroundings and virtual reality will make some spaces, such as gaming worlds and other simulated environments, even more compelling places to hang out.”

Many of the changes described by the expert respondents will emerge from a decade of maturation of the technologies we currently refer to as the Internet of Things. There will be much more than fast networks involved. In 2025, everything is continually connecting, capturing, storing and transmitting observations, as well as receiving data from other sources.

 Augmented Reality in 2025

The three key components of Augmented Reality—hardware, software and content—are directly impacted, even redefined, by the advance of technology and bandwidth. The biggest trends in hardware for AR-assisted experiences will be miniaturization and use of harvested power. With smaller sensors and processors, there is an increased ability to embed and distribute the components of an AR solution into multiple objects, both on humans and in the environment. With the ability to harvest locally generated or locally stored power, batteries will become smaller and their capacities greater.

Surprisingly, personal display technologies—a necessary hardware component for Augmented Reality experiences—are not often discussed by the respondents of the Pew study. Perhaps there is tacit agreement that there will be personal head-worn displays; the emphasis is greater on the use light and lasers producing high-resolution digital objects and representing physical world features, including people, with real time holography.


Respondents frequently describe software, the second key component of AR, as being less distinct and visible as part of computer-assisted systems than in 2014. Many experts predict that the “app economy” will be a distant memory. Software will run in the background, barely reaching the user’s awareness.

Impacts on People

In addition to technology changes, the respondents recognize that there will be enormous societal changes combined with rapidly evolving economic and cultural shifts. The study explores the human elements of life surrounded by sensors and actuators.  Visions converge on many points: improved healthcare services, more engagement between people at a distance and discreet “apps,” such as are prevalent today, will disappear.

Concerning other dimensions of life in 2025, there is controversy. Some describe increased security and privacy and others the opposite.  Perhaps this dichotomy is not reflecting of contradictions, but is rather a reflection of the deepening digital divide, between those who are more digitally empowered having greater privacy and the rest being more exposed.

Aside from how travel behavior will differ, this study does not shed light on the professional side of life in 2025, nor how Augmented Reality and its enablers will impact business due to streamlined commercial transactions, greater human productivity and lower risk to material assets.

How would you respond to the study’s key question? How will your AR-assisted business capitalize upon significant increases in bandwidth over the next decade?


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