Augmented reality: on the road to new uses?

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Augmented Reality (AR) begins its moult: beyond the gadget effect, it is now permanently in the landscape, especially in the strategies of the brands. And yet … despite a craze that continues unabated, difficult today to imagine the many ways in which this fascinating concept will decline in the future. Decryption.
GAFAM at the controls
What is undeniable is its success. According to estimates by IDC , 24 million augmented reality products will flow in 2021, an impressive figure, especially when we know that in 2016 there were just 160,000!
The big players in the market? Unsurprisingly, you know them:
In 2017, Apple and Google launched the ARkit and ARCore, respectively, which allow developers to access powerful frameworks to create RA applications easily and at a lower cost.
Microsoft also got down to business at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) last February by unveiling a new version of its augmented reality headset , mixed reality to be more precise, the HoloLens 2, whose evolutions make the device more comfortable, more immersive thanks to an extended field of vision or the integration of eye-tracking technology.
Facebook and Snapchat come to complete this list. Snapchat continues to develop its filters as well as augmented reality gaming, allies with Amazon to offer shopping in RA; for its part, Facebook has launched a new advertising format in RA and specific devices with brands like L’Oreal or Michael Kors … and behind the scenes also prepares an augmented reality headset .
Let’s add to this prestigious list of many start-ups that the Hub of Bpifrance mapped for France by taking again the different bricks which make up the chain of value.
Booming uses
Logically, the brands have also invested the arena, adopting an exponential curve of learning. In fact, the RA goes beyond the stage of play and gaming to penetrate almost all areas and all sectors. Thus, we no longer present the application Ikea Placeintended to test the furniture in augmented reality before buying them. And we must recognize that the tool is remarkable from the point of view of the user experience: it allows not only to adapt the piece of furniture to the scale of the room but also to turn around to scrutinize it from every angle. And this is just one example among many others. Tutorials in RA – digital overlays showing how to build a machine or apply eye makeup – could well supplant the classic Youtube demonstrations popular on the platform and more generally the instructions for use accompanying the products we buy.
What moreover to say many sectors to revolutionize, from remote maintenance to training through the building (BIM applications combined with augmented reality for building sites are immense!), Tourism, or the health, particularly concerned by these applications for the least powerful: thus the medtech Pixee Medical proposes a first solution of orthopedic surgery computer-assisted using the augmented
reality to improve the installation of total prostheses of the knee … And this is only an example among so many others of great potential!
Combine the technos
Great but not yet able to be fully exploited for several reasons. We are currently in the RA experience stage individually and in silo mode; But the real challenge is to combine technologies and innovations to multiply uses that the tool addressed individually could not bring. This can be envisaged in two ways, either initially from the mobile by combining the technological advances of our terminals such as the voice assistant or the visual recognition, or by going beyond the frame of the mobile in the future context of the mobile. development of natural interfaces and the post-PC era.
GAFAM seems to focus for the moment on augmented reality helmets. We mentioned before Facebook or Microsoft, but they are not the only ones. In August, Apple acquired Akonia Holographis , a start-up specializing in lenses for augmented reality glasses. Nevertheless, to be really efficient and adapt to all configurations, these headsets will have to be further improved, by imbricating sharp technologies: the video see-through which reproduces on the screen the environment filmed in front of the eyes of the user , technologies of Simultaneous Location and Mappin g (SLAM) in order to reconstitute the environment in 3D in a very precise way or the detection of the gaze (eye-tracking ), a device that puts the information where the user wears the eyes … In short there is still a clear margin of progress to accomplish.
To an RA cloud?
For American RA / RV consultant Charlie Fink , author of two books on the subject, we are at a turning point: the world is about to be painted with data. In all places. All over. Each person. In the short term, this invisible digital layer will be revealed by the camera of our phone; in the long run, it will be incorporated into a portable smart device. Everything will be combined with audio, AI and users will control the device using a combination of voice commands, gestures and a connected ring to turn the hand into a remote control.
To move this new course and change the game, we must address the issues of interoperability and focus on the development of “persistent” augmented reality solutions in the cloud , thus promoting creation, access and especially experience sharing. RA between different and multiple users. This RA cloud will bring together a set of technologies that allow for transparent spatial computation through augmented reality and mixed reality screens across the physical world. Of course, this will not happen overnight. Many questions will arise especially around data management and security. It will also go through the concept of “Universal Visual Browser”: in other words, you will point your phone without launching an app … and it will extract the contents of the cloud! In short, a real search engine of the real world.
You laugh ? Are you of those who think that these challenges are too complex, that this is science fiction? During the very recent MWC19 cited above, Microsoft dropped a bomb by announcing work on a global RA cloud platform . Alex Kipam, the company’s IT engineer behind HoloLense, said that each camera could be used to build the SLAM card for the RA cloud. In short a real reality since in full development!

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