At a recent back slapping event in Ireland, Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked what he saw as the Next Big Thing in the next five to 10 years. He said AR.
Cook has publically said that healthcare was the Next Big Thing for Apple and probably the arena where technology could bring the most dramatic change. Rightly, he said that the vast majority of the expense in healthcare is in late diagnosis. Enter Apple with its health tracking and monitoring tech and you get the picture.
AR, though, is a more interesting arena to pin that title on.
At the Irish event, Cook said “it will pervade our entire lives. You can imagine, for games it’s incredible but even for our discussion here. You and I might be talking about an article and using AR we can pull it up, and can both be looking at the same thing at the same time.”
So far, unconvinced.
There are many (too many) apps and collaboration tools that allow groups of people to look at articles at the same time. There are similar tools for graphic based arenas such as architecture. Not to mention actual models that you can walk around.
That said, there are applications emerging that make a lot of sense. Retailers are beginning to use AR (and VR and 3D imaging) to demonstrate the true benefits of their offerings to customers. Some observers see this as the way forward in many retail environments.
The statistics providers are in agreement.
Juniper Research believes that the ‘mobile mixed reality market’ will grow from $8 billion in 2019 to $43 billion in 2024, a growth rate of 450% over the next five years. This growth will be driven by emerging 5G and edge computing technologies. The company also believes that the majority of AR growth will be delivered by new content developed on and delivered via smartphone apps. Enter Apple (other smartphone providers are available).
Maybe it is a cynical view that says it is difficult to see anything completely new in all this. As mentioned, we can already share articles, we can already get walk around videos of products, linked to related content and reviews and we can already play pretty amazing games using WiFi and extraordinary consoles.
Yet AR may be another example of Apple teasing the industry with the direction they are taking. Then they go underground, quietly develop some amazing stuff and stun the market five years later.
Whatever the cynics might say, if Tim Cook publicly says it is the Next Big Thing, we should take it pretty seriously.