Augmented Reality Update
New developments in mobile could affect the travel industry.
Since we last reported on augmented reality (AR) a year ago, use of the technology has picked up even more steam. Initially expected to create $600 million in revenue last year, according to a January 2017 TechCrunch article, augmented reality instead generated $1.2 billion, in large part because of the huge popularity of Pokémon GO. When coupled with that of virtual reality, the AR market is expected to grow to more than $162 billion in 2020, according to the International Data Corporation. Because of the technology’s promise for long-term growth, big players such as Google, Samsung and Apple are getting into the game with AR platforms for developers; and, for the first time, Apple is putting out a mobile device that’s AR-centric.
Apple’s new iPhone 8 and iPhone X are built for AR from the ground up, with a new camera designed to increase AR applications’ visibility; an A11 bionic chip, which improves the load speed for augmented experiences; and a new gyroscope and accelerometer to ensure more accurate motion tracking. These features will enhance existing AR apps and encourage new travel apps that take advantage of this technology. So far, we’ve seen AR travel apps that offer translation, navigation and dynamic sightseeing. For instance, the National Museum Australia’s Kspace Trail app tags historical displays with interactive characters that encourage the user to explore the museum. Users can point to text and have it translated to their native language with the Waygo app. And Copenhagen Airport’s CPH Airport app uses AR to enable passengers to find their way around the terminal and obtain information on restaurants and other facilities.
Though the new iPhone features will help AR become more widespread, there is still little acceptance of the AR headsets/wearables that are necessary for AR/VR to hit its projected $162 billion in revenue by 2020. Though the traveler might not be ready to buy into headsets, travel brands are already being creative in using AR headsets to improve the traveler experience. For example, Singapore Changi airport announced in September that their ramp-handling staff would be equipped with AR glasses that will provide real-time loading instructions to help speed up operations. The new change is expected to shorten baggage-loading times by as much as 15 minutes. As AR apps and wearables become more common, so will these efficiencies—which means that travel brands interested in the opportunities presented by AR shouldn’t hesitate to start experimenting.
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