A brief look at the year in virtual and augmented reality

‘Tis the season for everyone’s favourite form of writing: end-of-year retrospectives. From the ubiquitous ‘Best Of’ lists to woeful reminiscences of a year uniquely marked by political upheaval, violence, and natural disasters, your reading schedule is undoubtedly packed with must-see content. Now, allow us to add our two cents: here is a look back at the year in virtual and augmented reality, from the perspective of a VR agency.

The year of AR

If 2016 was the year of virtual reality, as some have suggested, then 2017 was the year of AR. Augmented reality earned the full-fledged backing of tech titans Apple and Google, which released their respective ARKit and ARCore development platforms almost simultaneously. (Learn more about the competing SDKs here).

Augmented reality also featured heavily at Apple’s iPhone 8 and iPhone X announcement, and the company’s CEO, Tim Cook, aggressively promoted the technology in interviews all year. Now, in the dying days of 2017, the immersive technology industry is abuzz with rumours that Apple will launch a consumer AR headset as early as 2019. By any measure, this was a banner year for augmented reality.

Marketers get on board

Retailers and businesses of all sorts adopted virtual and augmented reality marketing tactics in 2017, as we discussed in the following blog posts: ‘Can virtual reality and 360° technology help hotel chains compete with online travel agencies?’; ‘Will virtual reality fundamentally change the marketing industry?’.

We at VusionVR were proud to contribute to this trend. Throughout 2017, our VR agency partnered with companies in a variety of sectors – from education to hospitality to manufacturing – to develop 360° video and virtual reality marketing experiences. (You can check out the fruits of some of these partnerships here: https://www.vusionvr.com/360-vr-videos/.) Towards the end of the year, we also embarked on some augmented reality projects, including an application for Hakim Optical that you can experience on the web or through apps available at the App Store and Google Play.

Virtual and augmented reality have the potential to revolutionize marketing. While each has different benefits and presents different opportunities, both can deliver unique and immersive marketing experiences that customers are unlikely to forget.

The realities find their niches

Augmented reality and virtual reality, once inseparable in articles about new frontier technology, diverged and established their own identities in 2017.

Even for those outside of a VR agency, virtual reality is the better-known quantity of the two: hardware sales have stabilized; virtual reality arcades are now a familiar sight in big cities; and Google Cardboard-compatible experiences are common at trade shows, industry events, and sports venues. Though the technology has plenty of room to mature, VR is for now comfortably established as a cutting-edge gaming, marketing, and storytelling tool.

Augmented reality’s future is less clear but brimming with potential. Thanks to ARKit, tens of thousands of Apple users now have functional AR tools in their pockets, and Android users aren’t far behind. The ubiquity of AR-compatible devices is sure to make augmented reality a popular – perhaps even essential – feature of everyday life.

Even while the much of the world suffered through a turbulent year, 2017 treated the VR and AR industries well. At VusionVR, we look forward to an even more prosperous 2018 – if you’re interested in incorporating immersive digital technologies in your marketing strategy contact VusionVR today to learn how we can help.


Image credit: Xosema/Wikimedia Commons