One could argue that, at least for the moment, software development is more important to the augmented reality experience than hardware. Since a viable augmented reality headset has yet to emerge for the broader, mainstream consumer market, currently, the same devices that make texting and selfies possible are leading the charge to enable easy-to-use AR experiences.
It is almost indisputable that smartglasses and head-worn displays are the future of augmented reality. However, at this precise moment, they are still a very niche market.
This time last year, we got our first taste of what mobile app developers could do in augmented reality with Apple's ARKit. Most people had never heard of Animojis. Google's AR platform was still Tango. Snapchat introduced its World Lens AR experiences. Most mobile AR experiences existing in the wild were marker-based offerings from the likes of Blippar and Zappar or generic Pokémon GO knock-offs.
Welcome to the first annual Next Reality 30, our list of people who've made the biggest impact on the augmented reality space in the last 12 months — and what a 12-month roller-coaster ride it's been. Apple introduced ARKit-powered apps last fall, Google launched ARCore for Android soon after, Snapchat began monetizing AR, and the Magic Leap One headset finally came out. These are historic times.
The year 2020 was a pivotal span of time during which the word "virtual" took on a brand new meaning. Instead of referring to VR or augmented reality, the term was hijacked to describe meeting across long distances through a variety of software tools, most often through video.
The landscape of the augmented reality space is broad, diverse, and constantly shifting, perhaps more so than any other vertical in technology. At the same time, major players are attempting to standardize various hardware designs and delivery methods, while still others are rushing to claim their piece of virtual property through AR clouds and application stores.
If we were to assign a theme for the 2019 edition of the Next Reality 30 (NR30), it might be something along the lines of, "What have you done for me lately?"
Influencers of augmented reality demonstrate expertise in their fields and outline a strong vision for the future that they evangelize to others. They help define the direction of the industry and identify others who foster and create innovation in the field.
People say that money makes the world go 'round. And it's no different in the world of augmented reality.