When news leaked recently about Apple's discreet acquisition of SensoMotoric, a small German company specializing in a groundbreaking eye tracking technology, industry insiders knew what this purchase meant: Apple has big plans for augmented and virtual reality. So why should this be a cue to businesses and brands?
First, the terminology: Though sometimes confused with one another, the two are related, but very different. Augmented reality (AR) refers to technology that superimposes digital images over your view of the real world. Virtual reality (VR) refers to three-dimensional, interactive environments generated by computers.
While none of the current AR or VR headsets on the market are capable of tracking people’s eye movements, SensoMotoric’s technology enables a headset to show a high-res image only where the wearer is looking, while leaving the peripheral vision in a lower resolution. This saves precious processing power–a big deal, and possibly “the key to allowing systems to cope with the demands of higher resolution, next gen headsets,” according to the virtual reality news site, Road to VR. And that’s a big step forward in making AR and VR a part of our everyday lives.
What’s Apple going to do with the company’s patents and technology? No one knows, but Apple CEO Tim Cook has expressed enthusiasm over AR in particular. “Unlike virtual reality, which closes out the world, AR allows individuals to be present in the world but hopefully allow an improvement on what’s happening presently,” he told the Independent in February. “With AR you can, not be engrossed in something, but have it be a part of your world, your conversation. That has resonance.”
Earlier this summer, Apple launched ARKit, a tool that adds augmented reality capabilities to iOS. A soon-to-launch app developed using ARKit called A R Measure, is a good example of what this means to consumers. The app will allow you to measure real-life objects by superimposing virtual measuring tape over the item when you look through your phone screen.
As we document in our 2017 consumer trends report, from healthcare to education, AR and VR are already revolutionizing countless industries. Now that Apple owns SensoMotoric, perhaps these technologies will become as ubiquitous as the iPhone.
Don’t have the resources of Apple or the other tech giants working in AR and VR? Check out our consumer trends report for information on how you can leverage them.