Forrester: AR will begin to eclipse VR in 2018

2018 will see AR begin to overtake VR as a marketing tool, according to influential research firm Forrester.

The company have released their predictions on a range of marketing and technology related topics for 2018. Analyst Thomas Husson thinks that AR’s main strength is that it is a more natural extension to existing mobile behaviors and does not require the use of new and expensive equipment.

These key features offer more marketing use cases and a broader reach to a wider slice of consumers.

VR, on the other hand, is still not suited for B2C marketing campaigns, with the need for expensive hardware and a probable slower scaling timeline. AR has seen an explosion of interest in the last year, with ARKit and ARCore being the most visible developments that have the potential to push the tech into the hands of millions of users.

In particular Forrester make four main claims about the short-term future of AR.

Mobile AR will facilitate online experiences

In the next three years AR will become firmly entrenched in daily life through a wide variety of applications. From seeing your 3D location to detecting surfaces and objects and automatically translating anything you see into your own language, the technology that underpins AR will find a huge plethora of uses.

In the next 12 – 18 months, Forrester’s predicts that AR will be largely confined to social and gaming, which will build up awareness among consumers. But as we get closer to 2022, marketers will begin to leverage the tech to create advances in outdoor advertising, in-store experiences, catalogues and product packaging.

The report states that marketers will “gain access to more contextual insights on where and when consumers engage with their brand”.

New AR devices will enable handsfree experiences

 Big next step in the evolution of AR will be the release of devices that allow for handsfree AR experiences. Tech giants like Microsoft, Google and Epson have been trying to introduce AR devices into the enterprise tech market for a few years now.

Forrester expect most major smartphone manufacturers to launch AR smart glasses and headsets, that will be tethered to smartphones (like smartwatches are currently) in the years between 2018 – 20. However, the company also expects adoption to be limited.

Standalone AR will accelerate

The next 10 years will see a rapid increase in the number of AR experiences available to consumers, spurred on by major improvements in battery life and connectivity, as well as growing consumer proficiency with the tech.

The report states:

“At this point, standalone AR smart glasses or HMDs will exist independent of your smartphone. Lines between AR and VR will get increasingly blurry if a single head-worn device enables you to seamlessly switch between an opaque screen for an immersive VR experience recreating a virtual world, to a transparent one for AR applications enhancing the world around you.”

AR will bridge the gap between offline and online

Interestingly, Forrester estimate that an ‘AR cloud’ could provide a bridge between offline and online. By providing a “shared memory of the physical world”, an AR cloud would allow AR experiences to persist across time, space and devices even if the user is not connected to the internet.

For marketers, this ‘third state’ will blur “the traditional lines between advertising and marketing channels, and between physical and digital touchpoints, will completely blur, forcing marketers to deliver their brand promise anywhere, anytime.”

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