Every December, AR-related sites begin publishing their predictions for the coming year. They’re fun to read, but you know what’s even more fun? Going back later to see if they came true. How do the augmented reality forecasts for 2020 compare to reality? Let’s do some fact-checking!
Prediction no.1: Instagram/Snapchat filters in marketing
- Has it become huge? Yes, and getting bigger
Don’t have the budget for a full-blown AR packaging campaign or an app? No worries: Order an AR filter for Instagram instead.
Augmented reality is the tool behind amazing effects like this one:
Source: Tommy Palladino/Next Reality
Filters and masks are a very easy – and relatively inexpensive – way to promote your brand. If you want your new product to go viral, this is the way to go. Why? Because you get a wave of user-generated content – that is, selfies with your filter. According to statistics, people are 2.4 times more likely to see user-generated content as authentic than brand-generated content.
For instance, here’s a filter game that ARzilla made for an ice cream manufacturer. It was shared hundreds of thousands of times, and sales grew by 6.7%:
And here’s one by Taco Bell:
Now that platforms like Spark AR are available to all creators for free (including on Windows and Mac), this marketing route is becoming ever more affordable. Dozens of new, branded filters are appearing every day, and we expect this to be one of the main uses of augmented reality in the next couple of years.
Prediction no.2: AR in navigation
- Has it become huge? Not yet, though a boom might still happen after the pandemic is over
When Google launched the beta version of its AR-assisted walking navigation feature in August 2019, it seemed like the navigation revolution had arrived. Why keep switching between your screen and the world around you to compare the street plan with what you actually see? Hit Start AR after picking a destination on Google Maps, and watch the magic happen:
And the magic does happen (as long as you have a good data connection) – only users remain blissfully unaware. Google Trends data bears this out:
Source: Google Trends
There was an uptick in user interest in “Google Maps AR” in August 2019, when the beta launch was widely covered in the media, and then another in February 2020, when AR walking navigation was added for most AR-compatible devices. But these are nothing compared to the massive surge in searches for “Google AR” in late March. What do you think caused it? Tigers!
The trend nobody expected: Google AR animals
- Has it become huge? Oh yes, thank you lockdown
Google made our lockdown days brighter with its 3D tigers, sharks, and cats. At first, there were only a few animals, but soon the list expanded to 30+ beasties and even includes parts of the human body.
The AR animals aren’t easy to locate unless you know how to find them. You need to search for an animal in Chrome on your phone, click on “View in 3D,” then “View in your space” – and then voilà, there’s a tiger/panda/raccoon, etc. in your room:
Google didn’t really advertise the animals: They just went viral. Most people are blown away by the realistic 3D modeling and want to try them all. Being able to take selfies and videos is an added bonus.
The success of AR animals is a beautiful example of how WebAR can drive adoption. You don’t need to download an app: Chrome is enough. App-less augmented reality is much more accessible… which brings us to the next trend!
Prediction no.3: connected AR packaging
- Has it become huge? Moving in the right direction, but COVID-19 is standing in the way
Connected packaging is one of our favorite use cases for augmented reality. Just about any product can feature a QR code that takes the consumer to a web page with an AR experience. It can be anything: a making-of video, a 3D character that talks to you, or even a game.
AR packaging is an amazing, at-your-fingertips marketing channel that can capture consumers’ attention in the most mundane situations, such as at a supermarket. WebAR plays a crucial role here: Nobody will download an app to view an AR experience hidden on a milk carton.
However, the growth of augmented reality packaging has hit a snag. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, users don’t want to touch products or spend any more time in brick-and-mortar stores than necessary. Many even try to do all their shopping online.
Still, we’re sure that the rise of AR packaging will continue in a few months, once this is all over. Actually, now is a good moment to implement this trend in your own marketing! If you drop us a message at email@example.com, we’ll happily give you some advice.
Prediction no.4: the rise of a new generation of devices
- Has it become huge? Not yet, because releases have been delayed
Here at ARzilla, we don’t often cover augmented reality headsets because we believe that the way to mass adoption lies through app-less, glasses-less, headset-less WebAR and SocialAR. Any device, app, or action is just another obstacle between you and the experience.
And yet, six months ago, everyone was going crazy over the budget devices launched or announced by big brands, such as Spectacles by Snapchat ($380), Apple Glasses (supposedly $499), and an unnamed device by Instagram.
However, with all tech shows canceled because of COVID-19, we’re unlikely to see new releases this year, and Apple Glasses even got pushed back to 2022.
Headsets could have had their moment of glory during the lockdown – if only more budget devices were available. Right now, apart from Snap Spectacles, the average price is $500–600 (North Focals, Vuzics Blade, etc.), and that’s far too much for widespread adoption. And with the lockdown mostly over now, who needs AR glasses anyway? It’s time to get out there, enjoy the sunshine, and spend some time in nature!
2020 is far from over, and some of the predictions can still come true. New spatial sensors for smartphones, holographic AR projections, indoor navigation, body filters – we didn’t include these things in our review because they aren’t quite a thing yet, but soon they will be.
If you’d like to try AR for your own business, we’re more than happy to talk about it – just shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.