As more and more devices and equipment in the environment get digitally enabled, Augmented Reality (AR) will entrench itself further in our lives. Sensors will be critical in obtaining content-rich data from such devices and aide businesses in building better products and services.

Sensors and internet of things (IoT) have become like conjoint twins. Sensors will, as intelligent listening devices, detect environmental conditions and communicate these signals bidirectionally as data. This data will drive IoT’s global economic impact, which McKinsey estimates could reach up to USD 11.1 trillion per year by 2025.

Hitherto, detecting environmental changes and communicating them was done by humans; “manually”. Technology has revved up the processing speed and quality of such data interchange as, soon, humans will be equipped with sensors, like phones and headsets, through various AR devices to decipher and comprehend such variant data inputs. Organisations, leveraging AR’s capacity to visualize, instruct, and interact can transform the way humans work with the data insights to drive operational effectiveness.

Products are already equipped with APIs and connectivity, and AR devices are loaded with machine sensors, from multiple cameras, GPS, Bluetooth, infrared to accelerometers. The challenge AR device manufacturers will face, is how they are able to process such data surfeit from such a smart and connected reality to build better products and processes from user insights. Deciphering and analysing data in the data economy will not only disrupt technology but also change fortunes of companies.

Amidst the frenzy of machine automation and learning and the resultant Industry 4.0 roll-out, human adaptability and technology absorption will be significant. Human capacity for creativity, intuition, and experience aids them in being able to assess variant situations quickly. This capacity shall prove vital as new data will be validated in a feedback loop while embracing AR.

Already Apple and Google have created AR developer platforms which are being sourced to build AR features into existing apps or used to create new programs with unique AR features for commercial purposes. The experience of simulating reality has already been embraced by the retail industry, expanding into the manufacturing industry, giving rise to new and innovative solutions.

Some short-term challenges confront the AR segment. Besides cost of AR applications, there exists a dearth of data to support the practical uses of the technology. Gathering and storing this vast data could be challenging. Besides, in the absence of compelling headset technology, AR is expected to be confined to the mobile arena.

AR’s future is intertwined with that of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and location-based services. While AI will lay the groundwork for reading and interpreting data, advances in location-based technology, like improved GPS capabilities, will create attractive applications for consumers. AR’s future ultimately lies in its graduating from an innovative application into being able to solve practical business needs.

Researchers predict that by the beginning of 2024 the size of the augmented reality applications (including gaming, advertising, medical, educational, geological, and other types of apps) market would reach USD 165 billion. Industry segments that are expected to benefit the most include entertainment, retail, travel and science. 

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