Not so long ago, Augmented Reality (AR) existed solely within the realms of science fiction. However, as we look ahead to 2018, it is now very much science fact.
After the unparalleled success of Pokemon GO – which exceeded 750 million downloads and $1.2 billion in revenue by the summer of 2017 – the potential for AR to enter the mainstream has never been higher.
Here we take a look at the 15 companies we expect to contribute to the advancement of AR for consumers and developers alike in 2018.
Top AR Platforms and Development Tools
As the world’s leader in cutting edge technology, it seems only fitting that Apple is among the companies pushing Augmented Reality forward in 2018. And with ARKit, Apple is set to lead from the front, giving developers a platform from which to create innovative AR applications for iOS devices.
Not to be left behind, Google has been working on the Android equivalent to ARKit. ARCore will replace the soon-to-be-retired Tango, allowing developers the opportunity to create accessible AR apps for Android devices.
In 2017, Vuforia produced the most widely used SDK (software development kit) for Augmented Reality development. We don’t expect that to change in 2018. Supporting the most recent trends in AR technology, Vuforia has a major role to play in the short and long-term future success of AR.
Founded back in 2008, Wikitude began with an AR browser, before shifting focus to an SDK for Augmented Reality tools for developers. We’re excited to see the next stage of development in the latest all-in-one SDK.
Best AR Hardware
It just wouldn’t be a list of the most exciting technology companies without Microsoft. A mainstay since it was first founded in 1975, this tech giant is ready to stake a claim in the ever-expanding world of Augmented Reality. In particular, the Microsoft HoloLens – an AR headset – could become one of the must-have AR devices in 2018.
Another massive tech company, Sony has been working away on a range of Augmented Reality tools. For instance, SmartEyeglass could dominate commercial AR projects for years to come.
Vuzix specialize in AR glasses, and the Blade 3000 look the pick of the bunch. Designed to appear like a simple pair of sunglasses, these smart glasses boast a full-color display and works with smartphones running iOS or Android. We expect big developments from Vuzix in 2018 and beyond.
8. Magic Leap
It’s been a long time coming, but could 2018 be the year that we actually get to see a prototype of Magic Leap? This secretive startup has attracted millions of dollars in funding for its Augmented Reality / Mixed Reality headset, but we’re no closer to experiencing the finished product. Keep your eyes peeled, as it’s surely only a matter of time before we know if the hype was worth the wait.
Leading Custom AR Developers
Specializing in B2B solutions, Augment connects retailers with online shoppers, displaying products in crystal clear 3D. Designed to enhance engagement and increase sales, Augment is developing products tailor made for a range of businesses.
Did you hear that? We just blew our own trumpet. From our HQ in Israel and R&D in Israel and Ukraine – we are at the forefront of Augmented Reality development, producing performance-optimized applications, games and products. Our leadership has decades of industry experience, while our capabilities in every aspect of mobile AR development ensures our projects are in good hands.
INDE is a UK-based AR company developing award-winning interactive and immersive products for a range of industries, including advertising, education, and entertainment. Their clients include Coca-Cola, Universal Studios, BBC Worldwide, and American Express. We expect to see INDE go from strength to strength in 2018.
Focusing on custom AR solutions and development toolkits, Dutch company Layar is looking forward to its ninth year in business in 2018. The Layar app brings print media to life, allowing users to scan posters, magazines, and flyers and experience additional digital content in the form of animation or video.
Top AR Game Developers
Initially founded as a startup within Google, Niantic has since become an independent entity. Specializing in games development, it’s perhaps best known for the phenomenon that is Pokemon GO, encouraging users to explore their neighborhoods and collect and battle Pokemon on their smartphones.
Niantic didn’t go it alone when developing Pokemon GO – they were of course ably assisted by Nintendo. The Japanese gaming giant is set to follow up the success of their AR smash-hit with even more AR games in 2018.
15. Asobo Studio
Based in Bordeaux, France, Asobo Studio is already making waves in the world of AR gaming. Each and every HoloLens device is shipped with three Augmented Reality games, and two of them were developed by the small and talented team at Asobo. Expect more cool and clever games from them in the new year.
And 5 Bonus AR Companies to Watch in 2018
- NASA – Yes, THAT NASA. In addition to being the world’s most preeminent space agency, NASA has been developing a number of projects utilizing both Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Space training and research will never be the same again.
- Marxent Labs – Deploying 3D product experiences to the buying journey, Marxent Labs is transforming the retail industry using AR technology.
- METAGRAM – Specializing in holographic large-scale films, METAGRAM plan on producing AR experiences without the need for special glasses or headsets.
- Gravity Jack – An award-winning US digital agency, Gravity Jack produces exciting AR applications for brands including Bloomberg and Coca-Cola.
- Blippar – A UK company specializing in Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blippar brings these technologies together to push the boundaries of user experience.
We are of course merely scratching the surface when it comes to innovative AR companies, developers, software, and hardware. In such a fast-moving industry, we fully expect to see more products and applications come to the fore throughout the year.
One thing is for sure: 2018 is shaping up to be the most exciting year yet in the history of Augmented Reality.