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Apple is Quietly Taking Over the AR/VR Market

Apple's rumored VR headset could hit stores in 2022, and is predicted to cost ~$3K. With new reality-bending products potentially dropping next year, Apple will open the door to new opportunities for indie hackers.

Apple's secret reality-altering push

AR vs. VR: Virtual reality (VR) headsets fill your field of vision with whatever is being displayed. When you turn them off, you experience the feeling of being blindfolded.

Augmented reality (AR) headsets, on the other hand, add to your reality by overlaying additional information on what you actually see. For instance, an AR headset could scan a tree that you're looking at in real time and display information about what type of tree it is. Here's an easy rule of thumb: VR replaces, AR adds.

The background: Apple has long been rumored to have hundreds of employees working on top-secret AR and VR projects. At Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2020, the company updated its developer ARKit to Version 4.0 with a suite of new functionalities and features, including a new API.

On the consumer side, Apple also just released its first AppleTV+ AR App. AR hit the market with high expectations, fueled largely by the viral success of Pokémon Go, a mobile app released in 2016.

  • Pokémon Go attracted nearly 160M users worldwide, and is predicted to exceed 500M users in the next four years.

  • The explosion of interest in AR at that time was primarily targeted at consumer and marketing-based apps. Later, the concept seemed to go underground, absent the rapid adoption initially predicted.

The quiet growth of AR/VR

The details: AR has actually been widely adopted in industrial settings such as product design, maintenance, and technical support. Google Glass launched its "Enterprise Edition 2.0" over a year ago, and other software companies have integrated AR into remote support and instructional apps.

A recent report indicates that several organizations were prepared to consider adopting AR in some form in early 2020. However, COVID-19 sidetracked the embrace of this particular innovation as companies prioritized building infrastructure for remote work, and adapted operations models.

Today, companies of all sizes are discovering how AR technologies can help them address challenges. AR professional use cases, such as knowledge capture, employee training, and digital instruction, are prime for exploration. In the retail space, brands such as IKEA, Sephora, Timberland, and Home Depot have experimented with product visualization, virtual try-on, and indoor product navigation.

What's in store?: Statista's 2021 report projects that AR/VR will be a $73B industry by 2024.

Growth opportunities include:

  • Expanded options and interest for online retail shopping
  • Remote assistance and technical manuals
  • Virtual events
  • Education and e-learning

Takeaway: Founders should watch this space. AR/VR will present countless opportunities to launch new products and services. Those who can harness their skills and expertise will be prepared to create in this emerging market.

What are your thoughts on the AR/VR field? Would you consider adopting this technology for your business?

    1. 1

      That sounds like a great resource!

  1. 1

    I have a trivial to implement idea that has massive potential - FourSquare style checkins on products using AR and object recognition.

    Say you get an Amazon delivery. Scan it in seconds to ensure you got what you expected.

    New model of limited edition shoes launched? Be the first to scan those shoes in your area to claim bragging rights.

    1. 1

      That does sound very cool!
      How would you monetize that? Subscriptions? Brand sponsorships? Advertising? All of the above?

      1. 1

        Probably by signing up companies to make their products available through the AR app buyers use to checkin.

        Say you buy a packet of cookies. Unless that specific packet/packaging is configured in the app, scanning the packet is not going to give any results. So, the cookie company will have to pay to become part of the app. Not sure if this making sense?

  2. 1

    I've been jamming with the ARKit preview packages within Unity, the technology is getting close. My next product is going to be an AR app for iOS, try and stake a claim early for the next gold rush!

    https://youtu.be/ywHLwKlC6mc

    If you want some proof that Apple is taking AR seriously check out this platform feature comparison in the unity docs...

    https://docs.unity3d.com/Packages/com.unity.xr.arfoundation@4.1/manual/index.html

    They already have the most featured software stack and they don't have a headset yet.

  3. 1

    They have already been releasing bits and peices of their eventual VR/AR technology stack in their current devices. Eg: spatial audio, the ultrawide wideband chip?, ARKit, depth scanning camera, etc.

    1. 1

      Yes, I think Apple is very well positioned!

  4. 1

    I tried the Oculus Quest 2 over xmas and I'm sold on the dream. The wireless headset, the automatic boundary detection, the ability to use your hands and the nausea is way less than previous generations. It boggles my mind that more people aren't keen

  5. 1

    Man, VR is such an opportunity, I can feel it. I need to finish my own project MockMechanics and integrate it with VR, it's the perfect medium for using it. Physical programming and VR, they just fit.

    1. 2

      I agree with the opportunity!

      Folks often get seduced by the "glossy" side of VR, like games and marketing etc. I believe the easier money is going to be made in the industrial applications!

      1. 1

        Imagine the possibilities!

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