Adobe exec believes AR could be bigger than the web

Scott Belsky, Adobe’s chief product for Creative Cloud is convinced that AR will bring the digital world to life and make a big dent in the universe.
27 June 2018

Scott Belsky, Adobe’s Chief Product Officer and Executive Vice President for Creative Cloud. Source: Flickr / Tech Crunch

If you’re in the market for augmented reality (AR) gear or are thinking about AR-driven projects for your brand, you’re going in the right direction.

In fact, expert analysts like Gartner and IDC believe adoption will go through the roof over the next few years, and not just in gaming applications.

Earlier this year, Gartner forecasted that AR, virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) immersive solutions will be evaluated and adopted in 20 percent of large enterprises as part of their digital transformation strategy.

“Organizations will have the ability to provide employees, customers and suppliers with a means to obtain real-time information, experience virtual environments and engage in social collaboration without a small, limited display and a limited point of view,” claimed Gartner analysts.

In terms of investments, according to the latest forecast from the International Data Corporation (IDC), worldwide shipments for AR and VR headsets will grow to 68.9 million units in 2022 with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 52.5 percent.

“While there’s no doubt that VR suffered some setbacks in 2017, companies such as Google and Facebook continue to push hard toward making the technology more consumer-friendly,” said Tom Mainelli, Program Vice President, Devices & AR/VR Research.

In fact, IDC’s analysts are confident that worldwide spending on AR and VR will achieve a five-year CAGR of 71.6 percent over the 2017-2022 forecast period.

Spending on AR/VR products and services is expected to reach US$27 billion in 2018, a 92 percent increase year over year.

“Commercial interest in both augmented and virtual reality continues to accelerate as new hardware ships, improved software appears, and more use cases evolve,” claimed IDC’s Mainelli.

AR is a game-changer

Scott Belsky, Adobe’s Chief Product Officer and Executive Vice President for Creative Cloud recently sat down with The Independent and discussed the potential of AR and the opportunities ahead:

“We believe that augmented reality is one of those new mediums that could be as big as if not bigger than the web. One of the areas where consumers adopt something new is when it makes something drastically easier.

“When I think about AR, I think about instances like finding your way somewhere, finding your friends in a stadium, or going to a conference and looking around and knowing who everyone is because their LinkedIn profile is hanging over their heads.

“Or if you’re inside a store, say, you can find your way around, knowing what’s on sale and knowing the origin of every product you pick up.

“In your home, if you’re trying to fix your dishwasher, then instead of watching a YouTube video over and over, you click on something onscreen and it pops out a three-dimensional augmented-reality experience of exactly what to do and it’s guiding you, right up to the centimeter. I think we will start finding a lot of things like that where AR just removes friction.

The idea he put forth was simple and quite clearly makes sense. People will flock to the technology if it makes life easier – and his examples clearly illustrate how.

Google is thinking about AR too

Google too thinks there’s a big future for augmented reality – and true to their role, they’ve collaborated with Coursera to build a training course for Augmented Reality.

“As AR technology develops, many companies are using it to transform how they create products, communicate with their users, market to new customers, and train their employees. To support this growth and foster a new generation of AR creators, we’re launching Introduction to Augmented Reality and ARCore —a free class on Coursera for those who are just getting started with AR,” said Courtney Hampson, Program Manager, Google AR & VR.

The first batch of the course will start on the 16th of July, comprises of 11 videos, two readings, one practice quiz, and one final assessment exam, and is expected to take 15 hours to complete.

At the end of the day, the fact is AR is picking up. Companies are making investments in the technology to ensure they’re able to build better experiences for customers and employees alike.

Given the rich environment it supports, it seems like Belsky is on to something.