The Top 10 Industries Benefitting From the $215B global Augmented Reality Industry

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Augmented Reality wasn’t expected to grow as quickly as the virtual reality (VR) space, but PokemonGo propelled it into the mainstream and AR, now, is a household term that holds its own against VR technologies.

The IDC predicts that global spend on AR and VR will double each year through 2021. This total spend is expected to soar from $11.4 billion in 2017 to nearly $215 billion in 2021.

In 2017, the three major VR/AR use cases from an investment perspective are respectively:

  • Retail showcasing, accounting for a total investment of $442 million.
  • On-site assembly and safety, worth a total spend of $362 million.
  • Process manufacturing training as the number three with $309 million.

The consumer, retail, and manufacturing segments will be the early leaders in AR & VR investment and adoption. However, as we see in the regions, other segments like government, transportation, and education will utilize the transformative capabilities of these technologies. As we enter the 2018 landscape, here are some of the industries and companies expected to disrupt and embrace the space:


  1. EntertainmentAR has an obvious place in the world of gaming, but unlike VR it wasn’t necessarily created with entertainment in mind. However, since the success of Niantic’s Pokemon GO, there’s been a whole lot more interest in augmented games. There are even rumors that there might be Harry Potter themed app in the making, which could let players cast spells on real-life items. Mondly, an AR language-learning app, applies the new technology in an infotainment application.
  2. HealthcareThere are a number of AR apps designed to enhance healthcare, including Viipar, a video support platform for surgeons that functions via Google Glass. When performing surgery, a less experienced surgeon can use the app as a guide. Through Viipar, a more experienced surgeon in a different location is able to show the wearer how to complete the surgery via augmented hands projected onto the patient. Another app is Orca Health’s EyeDecide, which is an innovative, Utah-based mobile software company established in 2010 for bridging the gap in the patient-healthcare provider relationship. Its 12 mobile applications and integrated tools educate patients to make better decisions about their health. EyeDecide is one of the venture’s medical app, which uses the camera display for simulating the impact of specific conditions on a person’s vision.

  3. Retail & Marketing 

    AR is any marketer’s dream, allowing for the creation of an environment in which a brand is positively enforced by the user’s own experience. Coca-Cola and Spotify teamed up to let users listen to the most popular songs by holding their phone up to AR-enabled Coca-Cola cans. More recently, Shopify, a Canadian-based company, is using AR is help their online-based retailers enhance their customer experience and to help them compete with retailers who have the scale to provide in-person shopping experiences.

  4. Education 

    Since 2009, the British Museum has been using AR to help children understand the Parthenon gallery. Using Samsung tablets, young gallery-goers can play an AR game called ‘A Gift for Athena’, which uses statues from the museum’s collection to tell a story.  The technology is useful as a learning aid for practical subjects and seems best suited to science, technology, and maths. For example, DAQRI, a terrific AR developer, has produced their educational app Elements 4D that lets students combine different elements to see chemistry in action. Teachers can print out and assemble blocks that become trigger images for an AR experience.

  5. Military 

    he U.S. Air Force has been testing augmented reality applications ever since 1992 whenLouis Rosenberg developed the first fully functioning AR system called Virtual Fixtures. It aimed to help enhance human performance when undertaking manual tasks. A firm called Applied Research Associates has developed a Google Glass-like augmented reality system designed for the battlefield. The technology that attaches to a soldier’s helmet allows commanders to send maps and other information directly to the soldier’s field of vision.


  6. Travel & Toruism AR also has applications in travel and tourism. Local business guide Yelp has a built-in AR feature called Yelp Monocle, which gives the user info on local establishments when their smartphone is pointed at a particular location. Another useful app is Monacle (a feature built into Yelp) that uses the camera, GPS, and compass in your phone to overlay locations on the real-world view you see through the lens.

  7. Automotive IndustryTheDrive predicts that augmented reality will have a bigger impact in the automotive industry in the short term than autonomous vehicles. Near-term features included using Augmented Reality wearables to enhance the driving experience, ‘see-through displays’ and also automotive design and production. AR is used to visualize the body structure and general design of cars, and to display information to drivers via their windscreens. This could be a key design feature of driverless vehicles in the future, as journey information could be shown via augmented screens. For example, Swiss AR startup WayRay took the top honor in the 2017 Top Ten Automotive Startups Competition for its technology that projects navigation, driver alerts, and other data—great restaurants, potential obstacles—onto the windshield. Think of conventional automotive head-up displays, but seamlessly integrated across the entire windshield and appearing embedded in the environment itself.

  8. Manufacturingnumber of business have begun to see the utility of AR in industrial environments. Evolar, for example, has created SmartPick, which is an application that helps warehouse workers to locate objects and sort packages. Canadian company NGRAIN also endeavours to apply AR solutions to manufacturing and production. As smart glasses become cheaper and more widely available, augmented technology will become an attractive and efficient way to organize assembly lines and warehouses.
  9. FashionAR has massive potential to bridge the gap between online retail and in-store experiences, letting customers see what clothing actually looks like on a human body without having to be physically present in the shop. Considered as one of the largest industries in the global economy, fashion sector is a ~$2.4 trillion industry. Hence the need for continuous innovation is crucial for the fashion businesses. Other than moving businesses online, fashion brands are constantly introducing creative and engaging ways to gain traction. For example, Zara is using AR displays in 120 stores worldwide from April 18, 2018. The AR feature allows customers to hold their mobile phones in front of a sensor on the displayed models within the stores or designated shop windows. Through a single click, the shoppers can instantly buy the selective looks.
  10. Music
    In 2014, Kasabian fans got the chance to see the band in virtual reality. VR might be able to take you to the gig, but AR can bring the gig to you… Irish startup Firstage have been recording artists in front of a green screen, so that after printing out a small card that acts as a stage, viewers can use their smartphones to watch their favourites bands live (sort of) on their kitchen table.In short, Augmented Reality is capable of so much more than catching Pokémon. Despite its recent success in the entertainment sector, AR was created to improve human completion of tasks, and from the above examples it’s clear that in many ways it has. Many of these sectors have been experimenting with AR for years, and only now is the technology really getting the attention it deserves. As far as the future goes, all eyes remain solidly on the mysterious Magic Leap, the secretive AR company with $1.4b in funding


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