Published on September 25th, 2019 | by Emergent Enterprise0
Hearables: Broadening AR Definitions
When it comes to AR, we tend to think primarily of the visual enhancements of our surroundings provided by the technology. But, as Mike Boland of AR Inside writes, “ar audio” is becoming prevalent in a variety of ways to businesses and consumers. Companies like Bose are proving that audio can be a powerful addition to the augmented reality UX or the audio can be a standalone experience. When businesses are designing AR solutions they should be careful to not overlook audio as a potential ingredient in the overall experience.
Photo Source: Apple, Inc.
Augmented Reality’s definition continues to evolve. Though considered by most to be graphics that overlay the physical world, there’s growing sentiment that AR’s definition is too narrow. As the technology grows into its own skin, it’s expanding into alternate forms of “augmentation.”
Chief among them is the emerging area that ARtillery Intelligence calls “audio AR.” It involves AR’s signature overlays… but audible rather than graphical. It can inform users and augment their experiences through audio cues, which are advantaged by subtlety and reduced hardware friction.
In fact, the foundation for this opportunity happens through already-pervasive “hearables” such as Apple AirPods. The popular device sold 25 million units in 2018, which ARtillery Intelligence projects to grow to just over 100 million by 2023. This is the first step to an audio AR future.
The second step is content and apps that developers build on that hardware base. Apple is motivated toward audio AR as one component – along with Watch and glasses – of a wearables suite that ARtillery Intelligence believes will be central to the succession plan a maturing iPhone.
Meanwhile, the BoseAR platform already provides developers a place to build audio AR apps and experiences. This should accelerate audio AR as developers are incentivized by distribution scale from Bose’ hardware base. It’s on pace for one million audio-AR enabled devices by year-end.
Developers are already jumping on this opportunity with audio AR apps that feature guided audio tours, espionage games or fitness management. Going beyond just audio cues, these apps tap into the IMU sensor bundle in BoseAR hardware to sense precise head movement as inputs.
AR’s expansion into new modalities and definitions doesn’t end with audible content. Other key signals and inputs are developing, such as location. In fact, one of the most popular forms of AR to date utilizes device location as a key input to inform and influence user experience: Pokemon Go.