Augmented Reality Perspectives
This page contains analysis and opinion by Benjamin Hendricks.
With a year of additional data, let’s take another look at whether augmented reality is going to happen, similar to last years analysis. There are endless AR technology applications that are possible, and the industry continues to make progress in developing the infrastructure necessary for such technology to succeed.
To start, let’s review the questions again
As mentioned, these questions were asked last year, and you can find Dave’s analysis of those responses here. When comparing these scores against the year before, we don’t see a large difference or shift. The score of 4.8 for Q41 was 4.7 in 2019, while the score for Q42 dropped a bit more from 3.3 to 3.1. Q43 average rating also fell slightly to 2.9, from 3.1, and Q44 went from 4.0 to 4.2. Overall we see a slight decrease in optimism about AR, if not the same sentiment as 2019.
2020 was, as overused as this term has become, an unprecedented year, though. Many AR applications that make sense involve being outdoors and having a heads-up display, of sorts, that provides rich contextual information about the world around you while also providing access, as desired, to productivity functionalities like email, chat, and note-taking. That said, a year where everyone was locked in their homes, especially in the US, which alone represents a third of the survey responses, would not tend to yield more optimism towards this technology. It could also be argued that COVID-19 and recent current events shifted overall perception towards pessimism, which could affect these results. All that to say, I’m personally not concerned about this slight drop in scores and have never been more excited about the prospect of AR technology!
By digging into this data a tiny bit further, some additional insights are quite intriguing. When slicing the data for these four questions by age, the cohort age 30-39 showed the lowest scores regarding AR. For Q41, the average score for anyone under 30 was 5.4, while it was just 4.3 for those 30-39. Even more intriguing, though, is that the score goes back up to 5.1 on average for individuals 40 or older.
Individuals aged 30-39 being the least optimistic is not what I would have expected. Without seeing this data, I would have assumed that the younger the cohort, the more positive their AR outlook would be. This age group could potentially have been more negatively impacted than others during the past year, but it’s otherwise unclear why this cohort has the outlook difference we see.
When slicing the data by organizational size, another exciting insight revealed itself: those that don’t create apps professionally that responded to this survey were considerably more optimistic about AR! Again just looking at question 1, the average score for those not developing apps professionally was 5.6, while it was below 5 for all other cohorts. Perhaps the complexity of actually building applications makes AR applications look too challenging to bring to life.
Similar to age, there was another U-shape in the data, where individuals at companies with less than five people, or more than 500, generally had higher average scores than individuals at companies with sizes between 5 and 500. This seems to suggest that small to midsize companies are not prepared, nor making preparations, for AR technology, while there might be more optimism in large companies with more resources, and small startups that may be more nimble.
Overall, the sentiment is similar to a year ago, where Dave said “that developer opinion could flip around really quickly if a use case starts to take off”, which I couldn’t agree with more. While this data is limited, this space continues to be fun to watch, as Apple is not the only player, by any stretch of the imagination, that is well-positioned to make a dent in the AR software landscape. That said, I’m particularly excited about the prospect of an Apple glasses type device, fingers crossed that comes to life sooner rather than later!
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