Augmented Reality (AR) is witnessing rapid adoption due to the shift in consumer preferences and business needs. Almost every major sector including consumer, healthcare, retail, gaming, entertainment, construction and tourism are using the technology to interact between the real world and 3D virtual objects in real time.
Per a recent IDC report, global spending on AR/VR is expected to be $18.8 billion in 2020, up 78.5% from IDC’s 2019 estimated figure of $10.5 billion. Moreover, global spending on AR/VR products and services is expected to witness a CAGR of 77% for the 2019-2023 time frame.
AR Technology Adoption Amid Coronavirus
AR technology could become increasingly useful during the coronavirus pandemic to help shoppers engage with products prior to purchase. Notably, various brands, retailers and companies have begun releasing VR and AR technologies to enable consumers to preview products before purchasing them.
The adoption of AR in healthcare is forecast to grow more quickly – with the value of the market increasing by 38% annually until 2025. AR can be used by surgeons – both in the theater and in training especially amid rising coronavirus cases across the globe.
The potential to boost productivity and safety encourages adoption of AR technology beyond gaming. The 2020 XR Industry Insight report suggests that 65% of the AR companies surveyed said they are working on industrial applications, while just 37% are working on consumer products and software.
Let’s delve deeper to find what the tech giants are up to in this booming space.
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Facebook FB is working on an all-day AR wearable as its long-term vision expected for release between 2023 and 2025.
The company struck a deal with British device manufacturer Plessey Semiconductors Ltd in March. Per the deal, Plessey’s LED manufacturing operations will be dedicated to helping Facebook prototype and develop new technologies for potential use in the AR/VR space for the next several years.
The Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) company also acquired computer vision startup, Scape Technologies Ltd. in a move to build out its AR capabilities. Scape has reportedly built a localization engine that’s designed for city-scale augmented reality. Using a cloud-based Visual Engine, the technology can build and reference 3D maps in the cloud, allowing devices to tap into a unified perception of the world around them. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
Facebook’s ongoing research efforts and demonstrated success with Oculus Quest make the social networking giant one of the companies best-positioned to make consumer-ready AR glasses a reality.
Snapchat parent Snap’s SNAP AR ecosystem includes lenses, games, and experiences, while it also continues to sell Spectacles AR glasses. The company’s Lens Studio 2.0 introduced Landmarkers, a new tool for overlaying AR on the world. It also introduced Lens Web Builder, a web-based, AR Lens production tool, which enables advertisers to create AR Lenses easily and instantly.
As of June 11, developers have created over 1 million different types of AR lenses that can be used on Snapchat through Lens Studio, with Community lenses achieving significant popularity. More than 170 million people use its AR tools daily.
Recently, this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company added an AR tool called Scan that uses visual search technology, allowing users to digitally interact with anything they see through their phone camera such as to identify dog breeds and plants, or to point their phone at something and find the word for it in a local language.
Apple’s AAPL acquisition of NextVR in April is expected to significantly ramp up its AR/VR efforts. NextVR provides live VR video contents, courtesy of its partnerships with NBA, Wimbledon, Fox Sports et al.
The iPhone-maker is reportedly planning to release a combined AR/VR headset by 2021 or 2022, followed by a pair of AR glasses in 2022 or 2023. These are focused on gaming, video watching and virtual meetings. The company is also working on a common operating system (apparently called rOS) for AR and VR.
This Zacks Rank #3 company also acquired display producer LuxVue, which owns patents relating to microLED usage, and operates a secret facility believed to be used for developing microLED.
Meanwhile, Himax Technologies HIMX develops products such as liquid crystal on silicon (LCOS) and depth-sensing cameras. These products play a crucial role in the AR market. In order to block light in AR/VR headsets, LCOS chips are used. Depth-sensing cameras are used to measure distances to place digital objects.
Several AR devices including Alphabet Inc.’s GOOGL Google Glass and Microsoft Corporation’s MSFT HoloLens use the Zacks Rank #3 company’s products.
Microsoft is also gaining steam in the market with its expanding portfolio of AR glasses, which comprise HoloLens and HoloLens 2. HoloLens 2 retails for $3500 in the United States and is expected to be launched in a number of new countries in 2020.
While HoloLens 2 itself still does not support 4G or 5G, customers can now use a USB Ethernet dongle with wiring to an LTE/5G portable device to enable connectivity anywhere needed. For the first time, in summer 2020, customers have been able to buy HoloLens 2 from Microsoft Store both online and in physical stores.
Further, Microsoft, which carries a Zacks Rank #3, has hired Rubén Caballero, former wireless engineering VP at Apple, to develop new HoloLens and AI products. Caballero’s new position includes hardware design and technology engineering for Microsoft’s mixed reality and AI division.
Alphabet’s offering of advanced version of Google Glass called Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2 is noteworthy.
Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2 leverages Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1, which is the world’s first Extended Reality (XR) platform. Notably, the glass, which is especially designed for aiding businesses in improving work efficiency by allowing them to provide employees with hands-free access to visual information, runs on Android and is equipped with improved camera performance for first-person video streaming and collaboration.
Apart from the AR glass, the Zacks Rank #3 company is reportedly testing five AR effects within the camera of its messaging app. Further, Google is striving to enhance search results with new AR features, which enable users to view and interact with 3D objects right from Search and place them directly into their own space.
More Stock News: This Is Bigger than the iPhone!
It could become the mother of all technological revolutions. Apple sold a mere 1 billion iPhones in 10 years but a new breakthrough is expected to generate more than 27 billion devices in just 3 years, creating a $1.7 trillion market.
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