The tenth anniversary of the iPhone is upon us, and rumors are swirling about affordable augmented reality (AR) glasses coming out soon from several manufacturers. Once this happens, AR is poised to radically change the role mobile plays in how we work, shop, and play—yet again.
With 97 million AR glasses anticipated to be sold during the next four years and billions of dollars being invested in the sector, one has to wonder how digital reality will be integrated into mobile apps to drive mass consumer adoption. As a futurist focused on the amalgamation of exponential technologies (machine learning, Internet of things sensors, cloud computing, etc.), which are converging before our eyes, here are my predictions for the ten killer apps that will make augmented reality part of consumers’ daily lives.
1. AR Dating
Over 49 million Americans looking for love have tried online dating and turned matchmaking into a nearly $2 billion industry. AR glasses will bring online romance into the real world. Imagine going to a club or concert and being able to identify anyone who swiped right on your profile just by scanning the crowd. Or, what if you meet the perfect partner while traveling internationally, but the language barrier proves challenging? Now you can expand your dating horizons by packing an extra pair of AR glasses that provide simultaneous language translation for two. Imagine being able to converse with everyone you meet. With AR, love truly can be at first sight.
Beyond romance, AR glasses can enhance real-world meetups with friends at sporting events, college campuses, and even concerts. You can leave geo-tagged instructions about when and where to meet up that appear when anyone in your social graph walks into the tagged zone. You can even geo-tag locations for pop-up gifts, like bottle service for the bachelor party you can’t attend (for your friend who was so successful with AR Dating).
Speaking of concerts, AR glasses will let anyone narrowcast what they are experiencing to their friends. Fancasting will be the next form of user generated content with anyone being able to share their front-row view or backstage access across social media. AR has the potential to turn the 74 million people attending music events into major industry influencers.
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4. Walking Tours
Augmented tours will quickly change how we explore cities, museums, and nature. AR glasses can open up time portals, transporting wearers visiting the beaches of Dunkirk back to experience the dramatic evacuation of soldiers in June 1940. Anyone walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge could join Martin Luther King Jr. in his 1965 march to Selma. From seeing the Beatles play at the Cavern, to watching tyrannosaurus rex skeletons come alive in museums, the opportunities to enhance cultural experiences are limitless. My favorite idea is for the 331 million annual visitors to U.S. National Parks. Trails can be highlighted, flora identified, and backcountry hikers will no longer risk being lost in the wilderness when rangers can track their remote locations.
5. Personal Financial Management
Let’s face it: Keeping track of every expense, whether for business or personal reasons, is laborious. AR will literally watch what you spend. From automatically calculating a restaurant tip to inputting each receipt you eyeball into your financial records, an AR money app can help everyone manage their money better. Best of all, heads up notifications can help reduce the $6.4 billion Americans spend on ATM and overdraft fees each year.
6. AR Tape Measure
If you’ve ever helped friends pivot a couch upstairs only to find out it’s too big to fit or wondered how many square feet of flooring tile you’ll need for your kitchen, then an AR tape measure app might be the one for you. Just by looking at a piece of wood, you can mark the exact length you need. Centering pictures on a wall will be a snap. Even volumetric calculations, such as how much potting soil will your new planter require, can be achieved in a blink of an eye.
7. AR Painter
Augmented reality glasses will take DIY painting projects to a whole new level of ease and sophistication. Tired of painting test areas of a wall with endless shades of puce? Your glasses will quickly be able to identify the planes of your walls and instantly overlay your room in an endless array of color choices and combinations. An AR painting app cannot only capture the exact shade you desire, but calculate the amount of paint you need and communicate your order directly to your local retailer. For those wanting to create a wall mural, AR glasses can look at an image you sketch or see online and position it as a fixed digital stencil on the wall. AR painter will help everyone to release their inner Banksy.
8. AR Gaming
Just as Angry Birds helped teach a generation of iPad users how to swipe, AR glasses will empower a new massive mobile gaming revolution. With more than 750 million people having downloaded the billion-dollar-grossing Pokémon Go, there is a pent-up demand among the world’s 1.8 billion gamers for a truly immersive mixed reality gaming experience. With sales estimates of 500 million glasses by 2025, gaming could dwarf all other forms of AR app revenue.
9. Product Support Bots
The combination of AR with chat bots will empower Siri, Alexa, and all their AI friends to help you setup, repair and manage the myriad of devices in our lives. From hooking up a Wi-Fi network to repairing a toilet fill value, AR glasses will not only recognize what you are seeing, but seamlessly integrate heads-up display (HUD) graphics and videos to their verbal commands. The same HUD systems which have proven invaluable for military and industrial training, hold the potential to reduce product returns, minimize customer complaint calls, and increase purchase satisfaction.
10. Facial Recognition
No list of predictions can be complete without at least one controversial use case. You’ll never forget a person’s name again with AR facial recognition. Can’t place a face or remember from where you know them? Facial recognition technology has the potential to give everyone the power that social media apps have today. Greet people at conferences or parties by name, and have their profiles at the ready on your heads-up display. As impersonal and cringeworthy as this may seem to some, facial recognition can also assist hospital staff with patients, prevent wrongful arrests, and reunite lost children with parents. As with all new technology, the potential for misuse must be balanced with consumers’ privacy rights.
Whether my ability to prognostic the top ten augmented reality apps is accurate, only time will tell. All that I know for sure is that the best way to predict the future is to create it.
Jay Samit is the independent vice chairman of Deloitte's Digital Reality practice and author of the bestselling book Disrupt You!