Improved Hardware, 5G, and More to Boost AR Market

2018 was a significant year for augmented reality (AR) with new entrants in the market, new smart glasses launched, new and improved platforms and portfolios, and generally more enthusiasm and curiosity from the public to explore the technology. Despite that technical challenges and budget limitations remain an issue for near-future mass adoption, the total AR market will be worth US$116 billion by 2023, finds ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies. Technological advancements, the growth of mobile AR, more proof-of-concept use cases, and audience acceptance are the main factors that will lead to this booming growth.

“New entrances across hardware and software, along with expanding incumbents, are reshaping the AR landscape, providing more opportunities for customers and developers,” said Eleftheria Kouri, research analyst at ABI Research. “For example, Magic Leap’s initial hardware offering, as well as updated devices from Vuzix and others, are met with market conversations spanning outside of just hardware. Magic Leap is working with AT&T to trial 5G AR, connectivity players such as Huawei are pushing for cloud AR/VR, and development tools such as AWS Sumerian and Unity continue to grow in capability.”

These factors combine to spur the expected significant growth across the AR market. AR providers highlight the importance and numerous advantages of AR solutions in business strategy and employee’s efficiency while more and more focus on strong collaborations with other related technologies such as IoT data, 5G, and artificial intelligence. With 29 million AR smart glasses shipments in 2023, the ballooning install base of head-worn AR combined with hundreds of millions of AR-enabled mobile devices in the same timeframe will make these partnerships a requirement to maintain AR quality of experience while still providing the efficiency and safety increases promised with the technology.

“Allowing time for maturation, combined with ongoing audience education, is key to ensuring a successful AR business story,” said Eric Abbruzzese, principal analyst at ABI Research. “Proving value to potential customers in the enterprise with specific, targeted, and realistic metrics will win business over the next few years as the addressable market grows. While the consumer market is vastly different to the enterprise market, the basic approach of proving realistic value remains the same. After a few years in the hype cycle, a more grounded market outlook has taken hold. The fact that the potential value and usefulness of AR hasn’t changed as a result points to the revolutionary potential of AR.”

These findings are from ABI Research's Augmented Reality Market Update 2018. This report is part of the company’s AR and Mixed Reality research service, which includes research, data, and executive foresights.