We are still in the early days of augmented reality, and wearables are becoming more advanced, smaller, lighter, and more comfortable by the day. The Google Glass was first released in 2012 and Microsoft followed that up by releasing the HoloLens in 2016. These were the first devices that received mass attention and use. It is now three years later, and I believe we are going to see the second wave of augmented reality wearables out coming soon – possibly even this year.
Microsoft is going to have a very exciting year in 2019. The highly anticipated HoloLens 2 will likely be announced during the first quarter of this year. I imagine that this announcement will occur during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain on February 25th-28th. My reasoning behind this is based off of Alex Kipman, the creator of the HoloLens, has been recently scheduled to speak during Microsoft’s press conference at the Mobile World Congress.
In September of 2018, Microsoft filed for a patent for a Head Mounted Viewer and on January 22nd they were awarded it. The design appears to show that it will have a lot of the capabilities that you have come to expect from a HoloLens however; it does not seem to be nearly as large or as heavy as the previous one released. This viewer appears to be aimed much more for mass adoption. As we previously reported, Microsoft won a $480 million contract with the U.S. Army to help equip the soldier of tomorrow to increase lethality through enhanced detection, decision-making, and engagement abilities. As we have seen with the military time and time before, I believe that through all of this development it will eventually drive consumer demand. I expect that Alex Kipman and others will talk about this new device during the Mobile World Congress and we may hear other announcements about this product during 2019, but the product is most likely still a couple years away from being released for public purchase. Could we expect the release of this Head Mounted Viewer to happen around the same time as Apple’s?
Currently, Apple’s effort to enter the augmented reality industry has only been through the iPhone and iPad. Many people’s first and only introduction to augmented reality has been through different apps that they have downloaded through the App Store. These are games such as Pokémon Go, or through utilities, such as the Measure app.
Have you heard of the company Akonia Holographics? I’m guessing you haven’t. Apple purchased Akonia Holographics last year and the company focused on developing lenses for augmented reality glasses. Apple is not known for being the first mover in any market, but they are known for their products offering the best experience and easiest use for their consumers. So, moving into the augmented reality market soon makes sense for them.
“Simply put, we believe augmented reality is going to change the way we use technology forever,” Tim Cook Apple CEO said last year. These are huge words to say for a company that is so technology and future focused, which leads me to believe that they have something hidden up their sleeve. “Augmented reality is going to change everything.”
The Magic Leap One Creator Edition was released in the last half of 2018 so I don’t think we can expect them to make any major moves when it comes to their hardware. However, we can expect them to make several strategic partnerships this year. To name a couple of previous partners, last year Magic Leap collaborated with AT&T and the NBA. Magic Leap and AT&T will focus on bringing the device 5G connectivity which will reduce latency, improve connection, increase traffic capacity, and increase bandwidth for higher quality. Another thing to note is that AT&T was the first mobile communication company to partner with Apple when they released the iPhone.
The NBA partnered with Magic Leap because they are interested in taking sports viewership to new millennia, making it more like a video game. “We recognize that we can’t scale our arenas,” Silver told reporters in February. “The challenge for this league is how can we then bring that experience to our well over a billion fans around the world who will never get a chance to see a game in person. So technology and creating a more immersive experience for fans is something that we spend a lot of time on at the league office.”
Watch Rony Abovitz (CEO Magic Leap) and Adam Silver’s (Commissioner of the NBA) full interview.
Meta was once a very prominent and promising player in the AR market, but as of last year, the company’s funding fell through due to tensions caused from the U.S. and Chinese trade disputes. Although they are no longer around, the company’s assets were recently sold to a mystery company. Who is this mystery company? Whoever they are, they will greatly benefit from acquiring Meta’s assets.
Augmented reality wearables have come a far way since they first came out. As of the writing of this post, the dominant companies in wearables are Microsoft and Magic Leap, however Apple may be the biggest threat (without hitting the market yet), and the mysterious company that purchased Meta won’t be far behind.
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