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My predictions for augmented reality in 2022 – The Ghost Howls

Augmented Reality

After having written my predictions for virtual reality for this year, it’s time for me to dig into what is happening in the next months in augmented reality. As I always say about my predictions, I’m not sure they will turn out to be true (and honestly, many times this hasn’t happened), but for sure they identify some trends to keep an eye on. So this post can be a good read to evaluate what is currently happening in the industry, and think about what could happen next. If you want to read better predictions about AR, I advise you to follow Tom Emrich, since he usually writes great posts on the topic!

That said, let’s dig into my super predictions.

AR is in a growth stage (Image from the web)

I think that in 2022 we’ll mostly see in AR the growth of the same trends that we saw in the second half of 2021.

The problem in analyzing the “AR market” is that augmented reality currently means three different technologies:

  • Smartphone AR
  • Passthrough AR on VR headsets
  • AR glasses

and all these three are at a different status of adoption. While eventually all of three will converge into AR glasses in the long term (the evergreen “5 to 10 years“), at the moment they are three completely different things.

Smartphone-based AR is nowadays a commodity: everyone knows Pokemon Go, everyone uses AR filters on social media, everyone knows how to scan a QR code. I think that many people still don’t know that what they are using is called “augmented reality”, but everyone knows about “filters”, and everyone uses them. AR is already mainstream in this sense, and it has also already its creators economy, its marketplaces, its success stories. Snap and Meta keep reporting about millions of people using it. In 2022 we’ll just see it evolving, with new features added, and new types of filters being released.

Then there is passthrough AR, which is the new kid in town. This year for sure we’ll have two headsets of this kind launching: Lynx R-1 and Meta Project Cambria, with the elephant in town being the possible release of the first Apple headset. Hybrid VR/AR headsets with RGB passthrough will finally be possible thanks to the recent technology evolution, and they will serve to pave the way for future AR glasses, for which the technology has still to be fully developed. I can envision some VR developers starting creating hybrid AR/VR content, and some millions of headsets sold. And of course, if Apple releases something, it will create a tsunami in the whole ecosystem.

AR glasses are instead the moonshot and the technology upon which all the other ones will converge. The technology is not ready for the mass market yet, and what is available now and will be available in 2022 will mostly be targeted either at companies or at developers/content creators. Sales of these headsets will likely be below 1M units.

So we’ll have this year 3 types of AR going at 3 different speeds. Defining what is the “current status of augmented reality” will so be impossible unless you say what kind of augmented reality you’re talking about. But the good news is that all three sectors are growing, with the first one being already mature and expanding fast, the second one starting its growth now, and the third one still growing very slowly, waiting for some technological disruptions. As I’ve said, they are anyway connected: for instance, what is developed for aa technology can be useful for the others. 90% of the applications that will be developed for passthrough visors could be easily ported to see-through glasses, meaning that when these glasses will be launched for the mass market, they will already be able to feature a good number of applications. The same holds for mobile AR apps and glasses: interactions aside, a game like Pokemon Go could be a blast on AR glasses, when they will be launched. And in fact, Niantic already showed a prototype of this kind.

This differentiation of technologies will make sure that probably we’ll never have an “AR is dead” moment like it happened to VR: while the mobile phone didn’t save VR at that moment because the cardboard experience was crappy, it is now saving AR because we have filters as the mobile AR killer app. Maybe not the killer app we were waiting for, but still an interesting starting point. That will slowly lead us to our mixed reality future.

AR filters

Some of Snapchat’s full-body filters (Image from AR Post)

Mobile AR is now totally mainstream, and this trend is going to consolidate in 2022. And with mobile AR in this case I mean AR filters, which are now everywhere in all applications exploiting the camera, like TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, etc… This year is just going to confirm the trend that started two years ago, with the main social media battling to attract always more AR content creators. They will do that by adding on one side always more AR tools that react to parts of the body (full-body, hands, feet, etc…), or to objects (mugs, beds, tables, etc…), or places (landmarks in cities, etc…); and on the other side more monetization tools to let the content creators earn money with their filters (through marketing, advertisement, etc…). The creator economy for AR filters, already very rich, will become even greater this year: there will be always more people that will live out filters.

I think that filters will improve this year by adding the technical features needed to build the AR Cloud, that is spatiality, persistence, and shareability. Filters will become more contextual, and people will attach them in a persistent way to locations so that other people (e.g. their friends) will be able to see them. Also, filters could be able to connect people, with multiple players enjoying them and interacting with them at the same time to enjoy a meaningful shared experience. This is in the end what we want for the future metablabla: people that enjoy a persistent shared reality together. Filters could be a gateway to building the foundations of it.

This has been the first example of a persistent shared filter

The technology will also support new categories of filters: the LIDAR sensor installed on iPhones, for instance, will allow for always newer interactions.

The main applications of filters will be the same as today: entertainment, fashion, advertisement, and eCommerce. Virtual try-ons will always be more popular, especially for objects from the cosmetic or fashion world.

Our online appearance is very important, and in this period of popularity of filters, there will be always a more blurred line between what is real and what is virtual in everything that we share. Everyone is starting to explore an identity that is part real and part virtual. AR is a new way that people have to express themselves, to convey their identity.

The theme of virtual fashion is important in this sense, with people caring always less about having a physical item if they can showcase a virtual one in their pictures published on social media. I’m very fascinated by influencers that show virtual jackets, maybe bought as NFTs, that have features that are impossible to feature for a physical item and that look very cool inside stories. I think this will be a growing trend. And going deeper into the rabbit hole, after having talked about virtual fashion, we can talk about having even the person wearing it going totally virtual: I’m talking about virtual influencers like Lil Miquela. I see this as another trend growing, especially in the East, but also here in the West. Think about the Alter Ego TV show where people could see singers just as virtual avatars… we are entering a time where it is widely accepted to have digital objects and people in our real life, where we don’t need everything to be completely real to be meaningful. And I think that’s a start of a social revolution that will pave the way for the future where we will all wear AR glasses and live in a mixed reality all the time.

AR games and experiences

Sounded good. Didn’t work (Image by Microsoft)

While I’m very bullish about AR filters, I’m very skeptical about other meaningful experiences in mobile AR. And this is because since when ARCore was released, I have not seen a single application being successful in this sense. Pokemon Go still is the most popular mobile AR app, but honestly speaking, its AR part is truly negligible. And almost all its competitors failed: this year both Minecraft Earth and the Harry Potter Wizards Unite had to shut down because of too little engagement. I had high hopes for Minecraft Earth, but it didn’t succeed, and this proved to me that Pokemon Go success was truly one of a kind.

I don’t think we’ll see meaningful AR experiences using the back camera of the phone, but I think we’ll have many SDKs working in offering better AR experiences. Niantic has just launched its Lightship SDK, for instance, that is able to let you create your own mobile AR game featuring multiplayer, environment understanding, and other cool features. Apple is constantly improving its ARKit solution, adding always more features, and also Google is (slowly) updating ARCore. These SDK will be useful to implement features that will be ported to AR glasses in the future, but I think that for now, they’ll be mostly be used only by developers that want to make some experiments. Mobile AR has a terrible user experience, and I don’t think it’s going to ever work: otherwise we would have already had some success stories about it.

So 2022 will be about new SDKs for augmented reality coming out, but probably no relevant experience made with them. But I also think we’ll see lots of 2D applications implementing some AR features inside them to complement their offering: for instance, an app that sells you products could implement a virtual try-on section inside it (like IKEA that makes you test a piece of furniture in AR inside your house).

WebAR (& QR codes)

(GIF by The 8th Wall)

While in my predictions about VR I was pretty skeptical about WebVR in 2022, I see WebAR growing strong this year. The reason is simple: most AR experiences nowadays are just marketing stunts to sell a product or to raise brand awareness (e.g. a try-on experience, or a 3D model of the brand appearing inside your space). These experiences are nice, and users would also be keen to try them, but the friction in providing them should be the smallest possible. If users have to download and install an app on their device just to see a 3D model of a brand on their floor, most probably they won’t do it. But if they have just to click a link, or even better, scan a QR code they found around, and see the experience in their browser, they will do that. WebAR allows exactly that, and this is why it is proving to be an amazing technology in the AR space: it completes wipes away the friction, enabling AR on the fly. QR Codes can become portals to little experiences to explore, and the curiosity of the user can do the rest: they scan a code just to see what there is behind it. It’s a known mechanism to create delight.

WebAR is going to grow, and with it also the frameworks that offer it: nowadays, The 8th Wall is probably the best for commercial usage, but there are also free alternatives like AR.js that are very nice. Some other companies have understood the potential, and for instance, Blippar has launched its free-to-use WebAR SDK at the end of last year, and I’m sure that all the other AR providers are going to offer something soon (if they have not already done that). This is a growing area to keep an eye on.

3D scanning an volumetric videos

(Image by Volograms)

Scanning objects, especially with LIDAR-powered phones, is slowly going to become a commodity: we just need to improve the tools and make the procedure to have a clean scan easier, and then everyone will be able to digitize every 3D object. And even better, we are now living in a moment in which we are also starting to scan people. Think about what Volograms is doing: you just take out your phone, you frame a person for a while, and then you have a simplified volumetric video of that person that you can use wherever you want. And it is not the only one working in the field: there are also other companies, like Tetavi. The purpose of these companies is to give people the tools to record a 3D version of a friend or of themselves so that it can then be inserted into a video or a virtual experience.

This is going to be huge: 3D elements will be for the metaverse what 2D elements are for the modern internet. Nowadays internet is all about photos (e.g. memes) and videos (e.g. TikTok). For our future 3D internet, we’ll need also 3D elements, 3D people, and tools to create them. And the smartphones will again be perfect for this purpose: instead of using the camera just to take pictures, we will also use it to scan 3D objects, environments, and people. And we will use these assets to express ourselves in ways that we have still not completely envisioned (e.g. I could scan an environment and then invite a friend to visit it virtually).

Of course, this is just a long-term vision: for the short term, I imagine this year the solutions to scan people and objects to become better and more widespread.

Tech convergence in general

RTFKT’s MetaJacket is one of the most famous examples of a virtual fashion element sold via NFTs (Image by RTFKT)

As I highlighted in my post about VR predictions, XR technology doesn’t live in a vacuum, but it evolves together with all the other technologies that are emergent now, and together with them it is going to create our next technological platform. 5G, Cloud, NFT, blockchain, AI, will all grow together with AR. I’m mentioning this because we have already started seeing contaminations in how this is happening, and this new year the “convergence” is becoming stronger than ever.

For instance, NFTs are now an important part of AR virtual fashion. With NFTs, you buy an exclusive piece of digital clothing, and then with augmented reality, you can wear it and take photos to share on social media.

AI and Machine learning make software always more capable of recognizing people and objects. This is how for instance the Lightship SDK is able to distinguish what you are looking at. Computer vision, AI, and other technologies will also be fundamental to build the AR Cloud, which is the reconstruction of the mesh associated with our world. All companies are trying to build it: Niantic, for instance, has put some special exploration missions inside Pokemon Go that require players to scan a portion of the world in exchange for a game reward. This special mesh will be fundamental to creating AR experiences that are persistent and shared and will be one of the most important assets for all companies wanting to enter the field.

Smart segmentation by Niantic Lightship SDK

On the hardware side, additional sensors on phone (e.g. LIDAR) will be important to perform a better scanning of the environment around the user and to be able to track the environment better, for more believable AR effects. I envision also high-end Android phones starting to implement them because they will be important to develop technologies that will be useful for XR.

5G will be relevant for cloud streaming, even if in AR this use case is a bit less relevant.

Don’t forget the reason why Charlie Fink a few years ago wrote the book “Convergence“: all these technologies are growing together, and together will create the convergence that we call the metaverse.

Passthrough technology

Stan Larroque is the creator of the Lynx passthrough AR headset

This is going to be the year of passthrough AR. All upcoming VR headsets will ship with some form of passthrough AR. This is a trend that started in 2019 (with the Quest, Vive Focus, and Lenovo Mirage Solo) and that has always become more prominent, making all VR headsets capable also of offering AR.

This year, passthrough will become colored: headsets like Project Cambria and Lynx R-1 will let people finally have high-quality passthrough MR that is truly usable, and that is not distorted and black and white. This will give headsets many more uses because they will be able to be used both as VR and as AR: I envision many apps also offering a hybrid mode, with some things happening in VR and other things happening in AR.

Passthrough AR can be one of the gateways to AR glasses. While the technology is still not ready for consumer-oriented transparent AR glasses, it now enables passthrough headsets to become reality. Screens and cameras have reached enough resolution for an affordable price that is possible to offer the user to have color passthrough AR that is not too expensive. Screen-through AR has the advantage of having a quite decent FOV (around 100°) that is much better than the one of pure see-through AR glasses. Passthrough AR will make developers transition from VR headsets to AR, so that they can be prepared for when AR glasses will become popular.

This will be, together with smartglasses, the way most people will approach augmented reality in 2022. Of course, their potential has still to be validated by the market: on paper, it seems amazing, but only actual sales numbers will tell us if people are truly interested in passthrough AR applications, or they just want to stick to VR. This year will be crucial to understand that. If they will prove to be successful, I can imagine also other brands entering the field, like Samsung (that until some years ago was interested in hybrid headsets) or some Chinese brands like Shadow Creator.

Hybrid AR/VR working mode for our fitness game

You know that I’m a huge fan of passthrough AR (I have made a fitness game that implements it since 2019…), so I really hope it will succeed as a technology. But I also see it just as a transitional technology: I envision our future with us wearing MR glasses all the day, all the time, and passthrough AR as it is implemented now doesn’t fit this vision for safety reasons. What if you are driving a car and your passthrough AR headset turns off because it runs out of battery? You’re probably going to die. So while I think that our future glasses will both have AR and VR I don’t think the augmented reality we will live every day can be passthrough (at least with the present-day implementation of passthrough).

That said, I’m excited for what passthrough AR can offer now, and this year is going to be pretty huge for it. Especially if a certain brand finally delivers…

Apple Visor

We are all waiting for something like this to launch (Image by Antonio DeRosa)

I mentioned Meta and Lynx when talking about passthrough AR headsets to be launched in 2022. But actually, the big name to look at is Apple: its launch of a mixed AR/VR device this year isn’t guaranteed, but it is probable… and if it happens, it is going to disrupt all the ecosystem.

The rumors on Apple entering the XR field are intensifying, and from my experience, I can tell you that when this happens, there is something that is actually true behind all the leaks. It seems that the company from Cupertino should reveal this year a new headset capable of MR/VR, with very high-resolution displays, high-quality passthrough, and huge processing power (for a mobile device). The headset should so be a premium one, for a premium price (rumors say $1-3000 per unit).

The announcement should come this year at WWDC according to many, but there are already rumors about this being delayed because of the pandemic, the chip shortage, and some technical problems on the device. And there is still the possibility that Apple cancels the project, something that wouldn’t be new to it.

Making a prediction of it is really hard, but my gut says that probably we’ll have a reveal this year and a launch next year. If this happens, it could create a new hype around all XR-related technologies in the second half of this year, and this hype could mix with the one of the metaverse… or maybe not, because actually, Apple is not interested in this buzzword according to various rumors. An announcement by Apple could accelerate our ecosystem because Apple always gets huge attention from the press. It could have the same beneficial effect that we had when Zuckerberg told about the name change to Meta.

This would also be a disruptive force, changing all our ecosystem, both in AR and VR. This device could be less for gaming and more for creators and professionals (a bit like the Mac computers). Apple has years of experience in offering tools for productivity that are used by all people working with videos, 2D, 3D art, and written articles, and I think that they could absolutely deliver a headset that can serve content creators in performing their job better thanks to XR. But it can also be something that makes prosumers enjoy media in a new innovative way. I’m intrigued by the various possibilities, also because, as Robert Scoble says, Apple has a lot of content (movies, music, ARKit apps, etc…) that could be ported from day 0 to this headset, giving users already many things to do when they buy it.

Let’s hope it is the right year to hear that famous “There’s one more thing…”.

The AR wars

Niantic is building a reference design for AR glasses (Image by Niantic)

We are all waiting for the moment when there will be seethrough standalone AR glasses that have a wide FOV, high resolution, and a form factor similar to standard sunglasses. But that moment is distant away and it is not going to happen in 2022. Even more, this year we won’t see even something that comes close to that. The technology is not there, and whoever claims having it, is just promising to be able to bend the laws of physics.

But the big companies are all very interested in XR because it is the next technological platform, and so there is a lot there that is happening under the hood: acquisitions, strategic hiring, R&D, etc… all to be able to build AR glasses faster and better than the competitors. We’re probably going to hear very little official info about these AR wars happening below the surface, but some leaks here and there will show us what is truly happening. We know that the major companies are already working on building an operating system that is optimized for AR glasses (one that is able to cope with the requirements of these glasses, and is also compliant with their needed tiny thermal footprint). We know that they are all acquiring lens manufacturers so that to be sure to have the best components. They are all building the AR cloud, and systems to make people have a persistent shared AR (Niantic Lightship, Microsoft Mesh)

We know that Meta is aggressively hiring people, and it is offering huge money to AR experts from other companies to convince them to join. Zuck has as his goal the one of dominating the new technological platform and he’s doing everything in his power to make this happen. Apple has clearly stated that AR is one of its goals for the future, and wants to revolutionize it as it did for mobile phones. Microsoft has already a valuable AR product. Google is being mostly silent to not repeat the same error that it did overhyping the Google Glasses, but it is public knowledge that is building AR glasses too. All these companies are rushing to be able to build their AR glasses with related software ecosystems faster and better than the others, because the stakes are high, since who wins is going to dominate in the next 10-15 years of this technological platform. 2022 won’t decide who is the winner but will be a year of hard work for all these companies.

Consumer AR glasses

Promotional image of the Nreal Light glasses (Image by nReal)

The best we can have now as AR glasses are glasses similar to Nreal Light: fashionable small glasses that have a 50°-ish FOV and are tethered to a phone. I think that in the first part of 2022 the AR glasses market won’t evolve that much from this. We can have maybe the FOV growing a bit, we can have new brands entering with glasses of theirs, but I don’t expect much to happen honestly. I believe this because these glasses are finding their niches but they are not getting the adoption we hoped for, and in fact, their manufacturers are usually pivoting to other products (e.g. Nreal has released the Nreal Air for media consumption).

But I also think that something may be moving to create a new standard: the news that Microsoft may be working with Samsung to create a new pair of AR glasses is intriguing, and makes me wonder if there is a new standard in the works by Qualcomm or by Samsung itself for a new generation of AR glasses. If this happens this year, it may mark the beginning of a new generation of AR glasses, that is better than Nreal Light and has the backing of two big companies like Samsung and Microsoft. This would be cool, but in any case, I don’t see a device of this kind reaching big sales numbers this year.

Standalone headsets

Magic Leap 2 is going to launch this year. Selected companies have already received it (Image by Magic Leap)

HoloLens 2 will keep being one of the most important AR headsets in professional settings. Magic Leap 2 will be launched (I forecast a price around $2000), and will probably be a better version of HoloLens hardware-wise, but it will lack all the software infrastructure that HoloLens has (that is, Microsoft Azure). I see both of them having limited sales, almost all of them amongst big companies and public institutions. These devices have their use cases, but they are too expensive to become popular: and even if Microsoft always keeps saying that Hololens 2 is the gold standard for professional AR, the fact that according to rumors it may have scrapped its plans for a HoloLens 3 shows that the device is underperforming in sales. These glasses are useful to have, but they are very expensive and full of technical issues (the first of all being the very limited FOV), so they can’t boast big numbers. I think that unless Magic Leap 2 has stellar sales, also the standalone AR headsets sector is going to be pretty static.

Smartglasses

Smartglasses are finally trendy thanks to Ray-Ban (Image by Ray-Ban)

Smartglasses are a trend on the rise: companies have understood that a fashionable look for AR glasses is important, and so they are all trying to launch glasses that truly look like sunglasses, and just cram into them only the features that are possible to offer without ruining the external design. This usually means removing tracking cameras and complex displays from the glasses, that so become capable just of showing notifications, virtual screens, and little more. These smartglasses don’t usually have 3D AR functionalities and are more an extension of the phone or media consumption units. Some notable examples of glasses already launched in 2021 or that are going to launch in 2022 are:

  • Rayban Stories (by Meta) that just let you shoot photos and videos while you are hands-free
  • Snap Spectacles, that let you create AR filters on the reality around you. These are being very appreciated by the creators community
  • Xiaomi smartglasses, to see notifications from your phone
  • Nreal Air, that are meant to show a big screen in front of your eyes for media consumption.

Commercial concept video about Xiaomi smartglasses

For techies like me, they are not that appealing for their features, but they are very cool to be worn for the average consumer that wants to look like an innovator: think about Rayban Stories, that being made by Rayban are incredibly stylish. I enjoyed wearing them myself at AWE.

This 2022 the number of smartglasses is going to grow: I think that many major companies will announce their own smartglasses, and the ones that have already launched them (like Meta) will spend the year increasing their functionalities. We will have many models, each one with its own functionalities: some will be tethered to the phone, others will be standalone; some will just show notifications, others will be for media consumption; some will have an RGB display, others just a green monochrome one; and so on. Thanks to their fashionable appearance, smartglasses have the potential to appeal to the consumer market, so I think that they are going to be a growing trend this year.

I’m also curious to see how they will perform because to my knowledge no one of these devices has still got relevant interest from the market, but just from some niches. For instance, many techies have bought Rayban Stories, which in my community havr probably been the most sold consumer smartglasses ever.

Smartglasses for remote assistance

I think that the B2B sector will still be a lot about remote assistance, which is the most popular use case of augmented reality. I myself still get a lot of requests about using remote assistance with glasses: even if lockdowns have been loosened, remote assistance solutions still make companies spare a lot of money in maintenance.

I envision smartglasses being the most popular hardware employed for that, especially the models coming from brands that have always proven to work well with enterprises, like Vuzix. AR glasses like HoloLens will also have their market, but most of the time people on the field just need a tool to read a manual, take pictures, and have video communication with the control center with their hands free, and don’t necessarily need to have AR augmentations. That’s why smartglasses are usually good enough for the purpose of remote assistance, and I see them growing in popularity in 2022 also in the B2B market.

Realwear HMT-1 is one of the most successful smartglasses (Image by RealWear)

What I see decreasing in popularity, instead, are the monocles like Realwear HMT-1, which in my opinion will lose their appeal now that fashionable glasses like the new Vuzix Shield can offer the same functionalities with devices that are more stylish and that put the information in front of your eyes in a more comfortable way. I don’t think that 2022 will see the end of monocular glasses, just that they will start entering their sunset avenue and will disappear in the next years.

As AR filters are becoming the norm for consumers, AR remote assistance or guidance for workers is becoming the norm for companies. I envision always more companies implementing it. Some of them will also try to implement similar systems for the consumers: if a home appliance device breaks, you can contact an expert that in augmented reality via your phone tells you how to repair your item. I see these solutions still as experimental, though, since they have to face two roadblocks: the first one is teaching people to use AR, the second is about liability if a user hurts himself while following a procedure guided by the expert.

AR OS and more

I talked about this in various parts of this article, but I want to spend a few lines to underline it more clearly: apart from the hardware, we have to have a look at the software infrastructure the various companies are building. Hardware is an important part of the equation, but who owns the platforms, owns everything: think about Windows which dominates the PC scene even if Microsoft sells very few PCs. And you can see that all the major companies are working in building the blocks of the software platforms that will be the foundations of what was called the AR Cloud and now people call the metaverse.

Microsoft for instance may have decided to abandon HoloLens (according to a rumor), but it has huge assets, like:

  • Microsoft Azure cloud services, including remote rendering
  • Windows 10 Holographic, which is probably the only non-Android-based operating system for an AR headset
  • Cognitive services that are able to perform environment understanding, room meshing, AR headset tracking, cloud anchors (so that two people can enjoy the same AR experience together), and many other fundamental operations for AR
  • Microsoft Mesh, which is this solution to offer persistent and shared augmentations between different people. It is a very powerful framework, and I think it could be relevant for the future AR efforts by Microsoft.

Niantic is building the AR cloud, and is also building a reference design for AR glasses together with Qualcomm. Google has huge expertise in search, and is surely working under the hood to create a spatial search engine for our future mixed reality: Google Lens shows the first positive results that it is having on this side. Google also has VPS (Virtual Positioning System) for outdoor tracking and recognition of known places, and it is using it for Google Maps AR now. It also has the map of all outdoor environments thanks to Google Maps. Apple has Maps as well, and it also controls the best mobile AR SDK that is ARKit, and all its related applications. Qualcomm has also just released Qualcomm Spaces, an SDK that helps in building mobile-tethered AR glasses. Meta is building the Presence Platform, which is a set of SDK features tailored for augmented reality. It is also building its own internal operating system for augmented reality glasses, and has probably the most performing VR store out there.

I could go on for hours: all the most important companies are building under our nose the various building blocks of the infrastructure of the metaverse, that all of them want to dominate. Expect this trend to continue in 2022: we will have many sparse announcements, but connecting the dots you can see the whole picture.

It’s a bit too early for AR contact lenses in 2022. Sorry to tell you this (Image by Mojo Vision)

Wristbands

I don’t think we’ll see this year the BCI/BMI wristband that Meta has shown as the new possible interaction system for its AR glasses. I know some other startups are working on similar concepts, and maybe we can see the release of some rougher systems.

Slowly this year people will realize that “metaverse” is not only a term related to VR. The metaverse is not just a virtual world like in ready player one, but it is a network that includes all our devices, and a great part of it will be enjoyable in AR. Niantic itself defines itself a company for “the real-world metaverse”. I think that this year people will slowly grasp the concept.

AR windshields

It’s years that we see companies in the automotive sector showcase at CES smart windshields with information showcased in augmented reality. I don’t think they will become widespread this year, though. They’ll still be experimental in 2022.

Adult entertainment

While there are some examples of adult entertainment in AR, they are just niche applications. With the rise of passthrough AR headsets, I think we’ll see this year new ways of enjoying porn in augmented reality. I think that VR one will still be more popular, but companies will start getting the potential of having a girl/man there in the room together with the user. At least a friend told me this.

China

I don’t foresee particular growth of the AR glasses ecosystem in China, exactly like in the West. But I forecast many Chinese startups proposing glasses similar to Nreal Light or smartglasses. Most of them will start and then disappear pretty soon, but the most serious ones will stick. It will be interesting to see what the government will decide to do now that there is all this hype about the metaverse: its endorsement may mean an acceleration of the whole ecosystem.


And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed this long journey into the trends of AR for 2022. I don’t know if my predictions will turn out to be true, but for sure the above points are the ones to keep an eye on for the future. I’m also curious to hear your opinion: what are your predictions for this year in AR? Let me know in the comments here below or on my social media channels!

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