Idea Development Trends: Augmented Reality (AR)

Apr 30, 2020 | Innovation

Most people think of PokemonGo when it comes to AR applications but there is so much more happening around AR technologies and this is more true in today’s Pandemic-based climate than ever before.

But first!

Augmented Reality (AR) is not to be confused with Virtual Reality (VR). AR is a technology innovation signal that lays on real-world objects to enhance how we see, hear, smell, feel and interpret the world around us. VR is the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors. The two are very different.

VR is the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors. The two are very different. Here’s a great explainer on that if you need more help understanding. No judgement!

What is driving AR innovation?

Experiences: AR technology is more than just “PokemonGo-ing” with your friends (even though that was a really fun few weeks). Instead it’s been a technology in the works since the 1960s and we are still only at the cusp of what’s to come.

Exploring the new normal

The new normal when it comes to entertainment and experiences has perhaps been one of the most impacted sectors of the pandemic. With a crisis that keeps people inside and away from entertainment, it’s important that brands think quickly and bring the entertainment direct to the consumer. And we do that with (you guessed it) AR technology. Think retail experiences, sports (and the fans that love them) concerts and more – COVID-19 has many brands going back to the drawing board to rethink their strategy and using AR technology to make it happen.

Sounds bleak, right? Well, it only is if you don’t adapt to the new normal. No matter the size of the company – brands have to meet the demands of the consumer or someone else will. Don’t miss out on your slice of the pie.

AR will enable companies to adapt in ways we’ve never seen. Who will be most successful?

We’re placing our bets on four major industries

Education / telemedicine / retail / sports
The new normal when it comes to entertainment and experiences has perhaps been one of the most impacted sectors of the pandemic. With a crisis that keeps people inside and away from entertainment, it’s important that brands think quickly and bring the entertainment direct to the consumer. And we do that with (you guessed it) AR technology. Think retail experiences, sports (and the fans that love them) concerts and more – COVID-19 has many brands going back to the drawing board to rethink their strategy and using AR technology to make it happen.

Education

AR has seen some incredible innovations in the last few years – education being one that impacts all of us. As the pandemic continues on and an entire world of students figure out how to navigate an extended season of homeschooling, AR applications will be a key driver in helping teachers and parents maintain learning outside of the traditional classroom.

Seekxr recently launched an AR education platform Seek Education that will help teachers provide more interactive learning environments for their students from afar.

Telemedicine

The healthcare industry has recognized an urgent need for AR to be used in telemedicine. Companies like AdviNOW Medical are building technology experiences that allow for patients to interact with technology in ways that have never been done.

Even more is being done in the magical world of surgery. Companies like MEDIVIS are “pushing the limits of what’s possible” with their SurgicalAR technology. The tech is “building the future of computer-assisted surgery. We’re harnessing augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) to build software that improves surgical outcomes for patients, and drives massive cost savings for medical institutions.”

Retail

When advertising and AR combine… Welcome to the future of experiential marketing! With COVID-19 disrupting retail it’s more important than ever to give the consumer the “try before they buy” experience and AR is making that all possible.

That’s where IKEA + Amazon (big surprise) have shined. Using AR technology, both brands are relying heavily on their “view in space” tech where customers can see what furniture will look like in their actual living room before purchasing. Fashion isn’t far off from this experience. Just take it from the pros at Vogue.

Sports

The area we see a significant opportunity for growth in the next 3 years is AR in “sports” (and the fans that love them). This massive industry has been using AR to help viewers at home for decades so it’s no surprise that they will lead the revolution in today’s world of consumer experiences and the future of sponsored content.

For some perspective, 68 million people physically attend NFL games every season. It’s estimated that an additional 16.5 million tune in from home. As the growing number of fans crave to get back to the “new normal” of sports, this will unlock hundreds of new ideas and businesses to enhance the games we all love.

Early examples of AR in sports

The NFL started using AR to show viewers at home the 1st and 10 lines. That’s right, the yellow marked lines that show where the next down will take place are all thanks to AR. This all happened in 1998 and has since become the standard for all sports when it comes to enhancing the experience of the at-home viewer.

The US Tennis Association (USTA) and many other organizations started using “Hawk Eye”, an AR technology created for instant replays. In tennis, it’s used primarily to predict if a ball is in or out of bounds in 2004.

Cobalt AR Golf Mobile PhoneThe US Golf Association started using AR to predict the flight of a golf ball and in 2018 the PGA Tour released their AR app. “Users select a hole and find a horizontal surface – a table or desk, for example – and via iPhone or iPad can follow along with the shot trails of their favorite TOUR players.”

Data is changing the game (literally)

Better data will make better athletes. Better athletes will create better competition.
Better competition will generate more fan engagement. That all sounds great, right?
We say, it’s not that simple…

Cobalt Predictions

Leagues / Coaching / FanX / Advertising

Leagues

The year is 2023 – NEW leagues will form based on traditional sports : football, baseball, basketball, etc. Why a new league you ask? Because the purist will NOT allow their current leagues to evolve into the technology of the future. They will say it’s cheating. They will say it’s the same as taking performance-enhancing drugs. They will say the game needs to be based on authentic talent. All of this will FORCE the creation of new leagues with NEW RULES … based on the old games – but allowing tech and new rules to form the games of the future.

Coaching

Will AR the new performance-enhancing drug? Probably. As advances in AR allow coaches and trainers to improve performance, communication and skill, the data scientist will become the new jocks of recruiting. Can someone say “revenge of the nerds?” Ultimately, better coaching and training will result in a more exciting product on the field. But as AR technology is brought into the game, purists will push back and challenge the need and fairness for AR. This will then result in new rules and limitations for AR during actual competition.

AR CoachingBecause new leagues will form, the job market for coaches will open up and so will the job description. Coaches that understand the technology and the game will have major opportunities creating a hybrid between professional sports (as we know them) and eSports. AR technology will allow for better post-game review and strategy meaning coaches will be able to use real time game simulations in order to better coach their players. We think the line will be crossed and techniques & tools will be banned in traditional leagues.

Technology will be WIDELY USED in every competitive recruiting technique for new athletes, allowing recruites to experience what it’s like to walk into a stadium, participate on the field of play and celebrate a win with the home team fans. Coaches will better be able to pick players and create all-star teams.

AR will allow coaching and training to be with an athlete at all times with a real-time sense of reality and not just when the athlete isn’t tethered to a headset or PC. #NoDaysOff

The fan experience

It’s likely that in the next 3 years, helmets and uniforms will be enhanced with cameras that show the game from the athletes point of view (POV). This evolution will start to give coaches a deeper perspective to help train and prepare athletes. It will quickly evolve into a monetization strategy to increase fan engagement. How? It puts you in the game, it will give you a visual of not just the field, but of what the athlete is actually seeing. Think POV gaming. #Kinky

While fans may benefit from this exciting new tech, AR applications will be being driven first by enhancing the game in the name of winning and not for the fans (even though winning makes all this more fun for everyone). Skip to 5:30 of this TedTalk below to get a sense of the history of tech in Football and where it might go…

The NBA will continue to advance the use of AR in a big way with fans in mind first. Second Spectrum, backed by Clippers chairman and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is also committed to enhancing live broadcasts with real time stats and highlights. This will allow fans a uniquely customizable experience for viewing games. From choosing their favorite athletes to selecting which statistics they would like included in their viewing experience – ALL of these advances will add new features and offerings for fantasy sports and dare we say it … gambling. All instantly in real time at a simple click of your smartphone.

AR technology will also enhance the social experiences of fans everywhere. How might AR make capturing and creating moments to share with your friends at sporting events next level?

Advertising & Sponsorship

Considering the recent pandemic, ticket sales for sporting events of all kinds will be a challenge for the next three (maybe more) years. Fans will look to sports as a constant in society to begin the “new normal”. Teams and venues will be challenged with not only government restrictions but the societal acceptance of gathering in large crowds considering this will take at least 18 months to get back to where we are today. And that’s assuming we did not see a re-emergence of COVID or another novel virus.

It’s now more important than ever for teams and venues to find ways to create additional revenue sources and engage all fans, not just the fans that may or may not be in the venue.

With that said, we think fans will be able to commentate the game to private audiences via a player uniform camera. Teams will offer fans never-before-seen experiences and behind the scenes sponsored content to take the fans deeper into the game, locker room and huddle. Players will demand a bigger piece of the revenue as their personal profiles will play a key role in this content.

In the stadium – you might be able to point your phone at over a dozen different objects / points of reference to activate amazing animations, objects, games and experiences out of thin air.

Are you TikTok famous yet? Highlights will become content for Tik Tok and other AR type social content creation apps the experience will match the advertiser – as new media are created for advertisers to explore – it will reinforce “brand fit” for the media or application. AR experiences will be a much different ad buy than a TV spot or even a web ad. This is true for advertising in general and not just sports so look out! It’s the end of the beginning as we know it.

It’s anyone’s game

Opportunity for Innovation in Sports

Opportunity for innovation in sports or any industry are open to anyone. Don’t believe us? Contrary to many other Signals, consumers said they were more likely to use/purchase AR products or services from brands they don’t know.