Augmented Reality is more than a futuristic vision of Tom Cruise’s Minority Report or a daily hunt that players of Pokemon GO pursue. It is the very next tool for digital transformation that businesses around the world pursue and need to harness in their teams and operational capacities.

Therefore in this article we wanted to draw conclusions from the opinions of top tech experts who explain how, when and where the impact of Augmented Reality would be exponentially applied.

Tim Cook compared AR to the smartphone in an interview with The Independent’s David Phelan:

“I regard it as a big idea like the smartphone. The smartphone is for everyone. We don’t have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market; it’s for everyone. I think AR is that big. It’s huge. I get excited because of the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives and be entertaining.”

But Cook also threw cold water on the idea that Apple is preparing a specific AR product like the smart glasses that have been recently rumored.

“I view AR like I view the silicon here in my iPhone,” he said. “It’s not a product per se — it’s a core technology. AR is going to take a while because there are some really hard technology challenges there,” Cook said in October. “But it will happen, it will happen in a big way, and we will wonder when it does, how we ever lived without it. Like we wonder how we lived without our phone today.”

According to Mark Zuckerberg, the future entails possessing less physical stuff although he has not outlined the best way to conjure objects in the air.

“You want to play a board game? You snap your fingers, and here’s the board game,” he said, motioning to the coffee table. “You want to watch TV?” he gestured to the flat screen up on the wall. “You don’t need a physical hardware TV, you buy a one-dollar app ‘TV’ and put it on the wall.”

One of the next logical steps would be to produce digital objects using software-powered glasses, the kind of futuristic lenses that can overlay digital text and images onto the physical world around you.

The wider application of Augmented Reality would come as time passes by. Still it is worth noticing that this is the same technology that powers Facebook’s (and Snapchat’s) face-distorting camera lenses, and helped propel Pokémon Go into a cultural phenomenon.

Furthermore, Zuckerberg also outlined at annual developer conference F8 that Augmented Reality will be a big part of Facebook “The tools today are primitive,” Zuckerberg told Recode, referring to face filters and games like Pokémon. “And people aren’t using primitive tools because they prefer primitive tools. They’re using primitive tools because we’re still early on the journey to creating better tools.” “I don’t know what the eventual business is going to be for us,” he admitted.

“We focus more on the software side of things, but one thing that seems to be true is that early on in the development of these platforms, the hardware and software are pretty hard to untangle. So it would be very hard to push the VR ecosystem forward and help out there without also working on hardware early on. And I would imagine that the same is going to be true about AR as well.”

One of the top Augmented Reality platforms in the world – Modiface created over 150 custom AR apps for beauty brands including L’Oréal, Sephora and Unilever. Modiface founder, Parham Aarabi stated why company used conversational interface and combined AR mechanisms with Facebook Messenger, “We are delighted to be the first beauty advisor launching on Facebook Messenger, and we believe conversational interfaces are a great fit with shoppers interested in getting beauty advice easily on the go.’’

The AR bot, which has knowledge of 20,000 beauty products, enables users to discover items by chatting about what colors, brand names or shade names they’re looking for. Focused on lipsticks specifically at this stage, it then allows them to try different options on by uploading a selfie of themselves directly into the chat. Using advanced facial tracking and simulation technology, the bot then shows them what they look like in that exact product.

Parham Aarabi stated, “We believe engaging in a conversational discussion with a virtual beauty advisor, be it in Facebook Messenger or other conversational platforms, will be the future of consumer-brand engagement for the beauty industry. These advancements are also dependent on Augmented Reality for discussing and sharing what is possible and specific to each customer’s face, and will require a layer of Artificial Intelligence-based personalization to recommend and simulate products that are the best match for each customer.”

Also, Niantic’s overnight success with Pokemon Go that took 20 years in the making meant strategic and over-the- top thinking that many

Niantic CEO John Hanke stated that he sees augmented reality as an important complement to his company’s guiding philosophy: where games should happen off the couch and outside of the home. In the case of Pokémon Go, players have to travel — including to places they may never have visited before — to find and catch all the Pokémon in the world.

“Maybe at some point in the future there will be augmented reality glasses which overlay Pokémon and other things seamlessly into our environment,” he added. “But those don’t exist yet, so we’re looking for those interim steps.”

One of those interim steps is Pokémon Go Plus, a wearable accessory that vibrates to alert players when they can take some action in the game. Another is Pokémon Go’s recently announced app for the Apple Watch, which will work similarly.

Much like Apple CEO Tim Cook, Hanke predicted that AR will reach greater heights than virtual reality, which employs headsets such as the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive to surround players in an all-virtual environment.

“It is the direction that I think is far more interesting and promising — for technology and, really, for humanity,” Hanke said. “In a VR situation, you’re isolating yourself from everyone around you and entering this completely virtual space. AR is designed to add, enhance the things you do as a human being: Being outside, socializing with other people, shopping, playing, having fun. AR can make all those things better.”

And finally Kevin Kelly, the founding father of Wired explains how the entire ecosystem for innovation changes and how we are moving to the age of interactivity and automation, the wave that also inspires creators in Augmented and Virtual Reality:

‘‘The one thing humans can do that robots can’t is to decide what humans want to do. […]

When robots and automation do our most basic work, making it relatively easy for us to be fed, clothed and sheltered, then we are free to ask, ‘‘What are humans for?’’ Industrialization did more than just extend the average human lifespan. It led a greater percentage of the population to decide that humans were meant to be ballerinas, full-time musicians, mathematicians, athletes, fashion designers, yoga masters, fan-fiction authors, and folks with one-of-a-kind titles on their business cards.’’

Image: Big Think