Augmented Reality (AR) will see some major new products coming in 2019. After the success of Pokemon Go, Niantic will release Wizards Unite, dressing the same formula in a new suit to generate millions. Companies use Google Glass to improve their work. AR glasses are being made by both Google and Apple, though potentially for different reasons. AR in 2019 will continue its evolution, and will likely tap both consumer and enterprise success yet again.

Across the industry, there are whispers that Apple AR glasses are on their way. Sleek and stylish with form and function, the glasses are the next natural step for Apple and its brand. While it is unlikely that Apple will reveal any details in 2019, we can expect more hints on its development. AR in 2019 will be marked by its use off mobile phones, and on the specs people wear every day.

This article will first focus on Apple’s efforts and how it ties to AR growth. While software development will remain as strong as ever through Snapchat and Facebook’s face filters, and the slew of games on their way, the hardware developments are fascinating to follow.

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What are the Apple AR glasses?

The Apple AR glasses are the newest products that are heavily rumored to be under development. Very little is known about them at this time, except for small pieces of information that are either leaked from Apple, or are extrapolated from their corporate filings and acquisitions.

For example, in 2014 Apple acquired Luxvue, a company creating tiny, super-bright displays; useful if fixed to the lens of glasses. Other companies followed: Sensomotoric, which does eye tracking; Vrvana, an AR headset; and Metaio together with Flyby, both AR startups. These movements raise several flags that Apple has been developing AR applications for many years.

Patents complement the acquisitions. On December 20 this year, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application that describes devices that place AR Maps on a surface.

Apple’s move to AR makes sense. The company takes steps to make technology not only functional, but also stylish. The iWatch displays its capabilities in a variety of fashionable icons, dominating the watch market afterwards. Apple understands that their products are a desirable fashion statement, and their products should be designed so that users can be proud to show them off.

Glasses are the next step, as so many people are reliant on them for sight and already switch them to follow fashion trends (myself included). Speculators say Apple will announce them in 2020. If they do not… well, as the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20.

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Will AR be cool, stylish, or fashionable?

AR is often compared to VR, with mixed responses. In terms of style, VR is not as mainstream cool. Strapping a VR headset on someone’s face is not the most stylish accessory in a home. While headsets made some strides to be cool via style options, it is still a hunk of plastic with straps.

Personalisation of VR headsets may improve its reputation, yet for now it is seen as antisocial to be worn in a party setting. AR does not have this issue as everyone has access to a mobile phone, ready for use. The applications, based on mainstream hits, push for collaboration. It is also fresh and new, something we all crave for. AR is considered cooler than VR, though VR may grow into a must-have accessory in 2019. Standalone VR headsets are set to make a big splash in the market, for example.

AR in 2019 and the AR Headset – A Magic Leap into the Unknown

Apple is not the only company making waves. Magic Leap, the AR tech unicorn shrouded in mystery, finally put their AR headset on sale, for an incredibly high price. Google, Alibaba, AT&T, and the Saudi state have together invested £1.8bn) in the company, citing its extraordinary capabilities.

However, it became a joke in the immersive reality industry that Magic Leap buoyed on hype. Lack of evidence, demos behind closed doors, and a torrent of investment made some commentators shrug their shoulders. When the AR headset released, reviewers commented that it needs further refinement.

Magic Leap understood that it needed developers on its side. Great content pushes hardware sales. To achieve this, Magic Leap launched the Independent Creator Program, which grants between $20,000 USD and $500,000 per successful project. This brought many developers to its side, drawn by the warm glow of financial backing. In 2019, these projects will start development, and bring new software for Magic Leap to use for the next iteration of its AR headset.

AR in 2019 will continue to grow with new software being released. Magic Leap will continue to invest in their AR headset, and with some developers on its side, it may get the killer applications it needs to shift units. The fruits of its labor will be shown through 2019, though will likely see the light of day in 2020 and beyond.

Google AR and Google Glass – What is the Future?

Google is investigating the use of AR as well. The ARKit provided developers with the tools necessary to create great experiences for Android. The apps were usable, powerful, and straightforward.

Google Glass saw a resurgence in 2017 after a commercial flop several years later. Factory workers use AR glasses, and companies have the financial weight to invest in glasses (and training) for its employees. The use case is undeniable, as AR helps to deliver a flow of relevant information to workers.

In 2019, companies will use Google Glass more. The enterprise applications are lucrative, and can deliver a flow of income for Alphabet, its parent company. While Apple taps the shoulders of consumers, Google is in the boardroom with a PowerPoint presentation.

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The future of AR in 2019 and beyond

The public have seen several great uses of AR. With the success of Pokemon Go and the likely success of Wizards Unite, AR will remain a major topic of conversation for 2019 and beyond.

Yet AR is yet to go mainstream. This year, Blippar entered administration after many years of investment, causing speculators to shiver. Reports say Blippar spent a lot of money searching for new customers, cutting its cash flow. Other AR companies may follow in 2019.

Yet the future remains hopeful. Major companies are heavily investing in AR, confident in its value. AR improves training, help with work, and entertain the masses. If an AR headset or AR glasses takes a majority share of the market, that company will grow exponentially. The business case is clear, and the race is on for AR to grow in 2019.

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Tom Ffiske

Editor, Virtual Perceptions

Tom Ffiske specialises in writing about VR, AR, and MR across the immersive reality industry. Tom is based in London.