VR & AR

10 augmented reality companies that will dominate the market

A few years ago, I was amazed by something called Google Glass. It was a very interesting project, even though the presentation was simple: a frame with a small glass cube on it, on which various information was projected. Little did I know that they were experiencing with augmented reality

Basically, it was altering what you were seeing. Or, if you prefer a more technical approach, we can say that AR blends digital content with the real world.

Some time passed and I eventually found that what Google tried to do was to become one of the first augmented reality companies on the market. But they failed, as the project didn’t live their expectations.

However, we’re close to 2018 and AR is applied in nearly all fields, while the number of companies keeps growing.

Today we’re focusing on some of the most important players on the augmented reality market and talk about their biggest and coolest projects.

Best Augmented Reality companies of the moment

It may not be as popular and accessible as virtual reality, but there are a few augmented reality development companies which quickly managed to catch our attention. And we’re talking about both tech giants and smaller companies, but with a lot of potential. Let’s see what they were up to lately…

Google

When you’re one of the top companies in the world, you just can’t ignore such a huge trend as augmented reality. And even though their first approach wasn’t as successful as expected, just like mentioned above, Google didn’t step aside.

The search engine giant announced the return of Glass as Glass Enterprise Edition. However, this time, it had a completely different target, as it was presented as a “hands-free device, for hands-on workers.”

And guess what? This time, it was received way better, even though it wasn’t designed exactly for the masses.

Companies like General Electric and DHL started using Google Glass for their teams and reported significant productivity gains. Also, healthcare professionals relied on the wearable as well, using them to check out video and transcription of patient examinations, therefore saving a lot of time!

There’s definitely a bright future for the project, if you ask us!

Microsoft

What, you thought that they were going to let this pass without doing something? In the past, Microsoft produced a lot of hardware for AR, but their most notable project is Hololens.

In a nutshell, it’s a headset with 6 sensors, a camera, and a measurement unit, which can be used for enjoying augmented reality apps and games. Design and feature-wise, it’s absolutely impressive, but with a price tag of $5,000, it’s far from being accessible.

There are a lot of presentation videos, but in order to see how Hololens works, something made by people who actually tried it is way better. We have a video made by the folks over at The Verge, who got the chance to test the headset!

Do you think it’s worth $5,000? Yeah, me neither. But this doesn’t mean that when a more pocket-friendly, consumer version, will be released, I won’t try to get one!

Facebook

The world’s biggest social network was a bit late to the party, but they eventually joined it. Even though they are not doing that much in this direction, Facebook has a lot of potential at becoming one of the biggest augmented reality companies in the world.

In what was called an attempt of mindlessly copying Snapchat, Facebook introduced Camera Features in their mobile app, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. After the Facebook F8 conference, Mark Zuckerberg announced that an entire army of developers will start working at new augmented reality filters, which will be available soon.

But hey, “soon” is happening now, as anybody can enjoy Camera Effects through the Facebook app. And thanks to the fact that the closed beta of the platform’s AR Studio tool was also released a few months ago, the number or…augmented reality effects is way bigger than Snapchats!

Check out the moment of the announcement, in order to better understand how it works. If you haven’t tried it on your own until now, that is.

Apple

You weren’t expecting to see these guys here, right? Well, besides being the worldwide leader in electronic products, mobile devices, and online services, Apple is slowly becoming one of the top augmented reality companies as well. Or, at least, has the potential to do it!

The Cupertino-based company introduced ARKit for iOS 11 devices and above, aimed at developers who want to create AR solutions for iOS apps.

Using the new TrueDepth Camera, present on the iPhone X, face tracking is possible. Also, the Visual Intertial Odometry allows devices to detect self-movements in real world, while Scene Understanding and Lighting Estimation analyzes the scene and places virtual objects inside.

Yes, Apple can easily become one top-notch player on the AR market. This is their kit in action:

Niantic

If the name sounds familiar, you must have played Pokemon Go, at least in 2016, when the first version was launched. In case you don’t remember, it was one of the first ever augmented reality games to go big. No, not ‘big’, maybe ‘worldwide and probably a few more planets’, it sounds better.

Alongside Nintendo (whose stocks skyrocketed after this), they launched Pokemon Go and helped the entire world see the potential of augmented reality and its applications.

But they aren’t just a one-hit wonder, since Niantic also released Ingress, an app based on the same concept: players form teams and then challenge each other.

You can check it out here:

In a world dominated by sedentarism, Niantic does an excellent job, by making people go out and explore a new world, made better by augmented reality. Considering this, we have all the reasons to call them one of the most interesting to watch augmented reality companies!

Augment

Entertainment is not the only purpose of virtual reality, as it can be implemented in several domains. Take marketing, for example, a domain for which Augment managed to find a great solution.

We’re talking about a way of connecting retailers, as well as online shoppers, by showing products in 3D augmented reality. Basically, you can see how a product will look on the shelves or where’s the best place to put a panel in a store.

But these are just a few examples, since Augment offers way more than this. A video can explain better what these guys can do using augmented reality technology

Snapchat

Of course, there’s one name we just can’t ignore when talking about the top augmented reality companies and that’s Snapchat. Seriously now, they have been among the first to make this concept available to the masses, through their in-app filters, which have been adopted eventually by other companies, in different forms.

In 2017, they took everything to a whole new level, by introducing World Lenses. This new feature allows placing interactive 3D objects on photos or videos, thus giving users complete control of their own augmented reality.

Even more, just a few days ago, they presented the Lens Studio AR developer tool, so anybody with the proper technical knowledge can create their own Word Lenses. This comes in handy for brands, news publishers, and developers, who can now promote their own lenses, by marketing QR snapcodes.

Check them out in action:

Sony

Sony is doing a pretty good job when it comes to virtual reality, as the PlayStation VR is among the most popular headsets in the world. But they also want a slice of the augmented reality pie!

Recently, they have introduced a couple of AR tools, the most interesting being SmartEyeglasses. Ah, come one, you guys could’ve come up with a way better name.

Yes, they’re exactly what you’re thinking, a pair of reality glasses with an integrated camera, GPU, and a couple of sensors, able to display digital data in front of users’ eyes.

This is still an on-going market, so the glasses aren’t available for mass buyers. On the other side, if you’re a developer, you can test the SDK, which comes with guides and tutorials. By this, you can help sony bring their AR project to life.

Oh, and maybe you can suggest a better form factor for those glasses as well. They look like the ones the crazy cat lady living two floors above wears. And hey, think about some awesome augmented reality games as well! We wouldn’t mind trying some at all.

Here’s a quick video of the headset:

Magic Leap

These guys are special. Like, very special, as they managed to receive a lot of funding, even though they don’t have any products in their portfolio. Not even a prototype…

The name Magic Leap made it to the mainstream one year ago, when we hear about their “magical goggles”. What makes them magical? The ability to project virtual objects so good, that they are actually indistinguishable from real-life scenery around them.

We know, it sounds too good to be true.

The company raised almost $2 billion in function from key players in Silicon Valley, including Google. But again, they don’t have any products, just a big and daring idea.

Recently, they have invited a reporter from Pitchfork to find out more about the world they want to create and the experience was amazing.

You can find out the story behind the company here:

Update: On December 21, Magic Leap officially unveiled their AR headset. More details on their website.

NASA

We bet nobody was expecting to see a name like this in a top of the most interesting augmented reality companies. Well, I was also pretty surprised when I first found out what awesome AR projects NASA has in its portfolio

Ever since 1998, the National American Space Agency tried various projects, based on both virtual and augmented reality, in order to extend their space research. And some of them were actually very successful, while way more apps were made public

Now we’re not convinced that NASA is planning to become one of the augmented reality software companies to look after, but they have definitely provided a lot of content about their projects!

Let’s be serious, how else would we be able to explore space than without their apps, than using their Spacecraft 3D app?

Wrap-up

Admit it, you are a bit mesmerized by all the possibilities this technology offers. Because I’m totally fascinated! And I also dare to say that augmented reality can become – one day – something as used as smartphones are today. Or maybe even more, with people being interested in putting a lot of money in it.

Do you think there are any augmented reality companies to invest in? Also, do you believe that augmented and virtual reality will eventually overtake the smartphone industry? Let us know your thoughts, by dropping a few lines, in the comments section below.

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