Augmented Reality is the integration of digital information with the user’s environment in real time. Unlike virtual reality, which creates a totally artificial environment, AR uses the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it. Google Glass is a well-known example of Augmented Reality smart glasses – aside from these, there are currently 42 AR smart glasses on the market or in advanced stages of development. The majority come in the form of spectacles (60%), but there are also headsets and visors that can or will be available for purchase. More than half of AR smart glasses are powered by Android, as opposed to 16% being powered by Microsoft. The cost for a pair of AR smart glass does not come cheap, the median cost is currently around $1,000.00.
Interestingly enough, AR smart glasses are primarily intended for commercial or industrial use, versus VR devices that are mostly used for entertainment purposes. So far, the use of Augmented Reality in businesses has proven to be effective: Shipping companies like DHL had a 25% increase in efficiency by using Vuzix M100 smart glasses as part of a picking solution. Similarly, aircraft manufacturer, Boeing, cut production time down by a quarter and reduced error effectively to zero using Google Glass in its wiring harness assembly.
One of the setbacks with AR smart glasses is the lack of Field of View (FOV) with certain brands. FOV is the extent of the observable world that is seen at any given moment. The average pair of AR smart glasses only has a FOV of 33°, whereas the device boasting the highest FOV is the Meta 2 at 88°. Aside from FOV, other potential opportunities for improvement would be for connectivity and depth sensors. Only 14% of AR smart glasses support LTE and 26% of AR smart glasses are equipped with depth sensors. If the market is to move towards a more immersive experience, this would be a necessity.
Overall, despite these few setbacks, AR smart glasses are expected to overtake modern day personal computing. 2016 set the tone for the rise of Augmented Reality with the number of new smart glasses entering the market. Now in 2017, the potential for AR smart glasses only increases further.
Below is the full infographic by Super Ventures: