Don’t feel too bad if you have never heard of ARiA (AR in Action). The Augmented Reality event that gathers academics, researchers, scientists and technology execs is only on its second year, having run two successful events (one each at MIT and Stanford) last year.
Unlike broader trade shows like CES, ARiA isn’t trying to sell anyone anything. No, this event is all about collaboration, information sharing and problem solving. Attendees at the event are treated to AR-centric presentations by forward-thinking futurists from such industry heavyweights as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Oculus, Magic Leap, Meta, and newer startups. VCs, Media companies and leading researchers and professors also take the stage to speak about AR’s possible applications and cutting edge possibilities.
Event organizers are proud of the connections which are being formed at ARiA and cannot stress enough how important it is that AR have its own industry event to really hone in on their unique market. Meta executive and ARiA Organizer John Werner is very optimistic about the future of the technology. “The ability to combine digital information with the real world is going to disrupt every business model, transform human/machine interaction, and generate innovative use cases across every discipline, and in every vertical including education, healthcare, manufacturing.” If the 1,000 attendees at last year’s event are any indicator, there are a lot of people who would agree with John.
Most people associate AR with special glasses, or apps like Pokémon GO, but AR has already crept into our lives in ways which don’t scream for attention. Football games have for a long time shown overlays on TV with play data seemingly painted onto the field. Cars now come with ‘heads up’ displays which give you valuable, detailed technical information directly in front of your eyes where you need it most. An ever-increasing number of historical sites now allow you to take AR-enhanced tours which overlay your mobile screen with information you would have previously received from a guide. And most experts agree that we have only scratched the surface of AR/VR potential.
“AR is on the verge. It’s exciting to watch it take shape. In the end, it won’t even be called AR. That will disappear,” says Bob Metcalfe, Professor of Innovation at the University of Texas and Founder of 3Com.
Market analysts too seem to agree that AR will be able to successfully grow as it integrates into our lives, with many opportunities for money to be made. IDC Research sees the market for AR at over $215 billion by 2021.
Some believe AR/VR are part of the next evolution of computing; a set of shifts which included personal computing, the internet and mobile computing. Dreamers and futurists are already calling on us to ditch our dumb screens of yesterday and start living a life that interacts with what they perceive to be a valuably endless, data-rich environment, the unlocking of which will usher in a new way of seeing our environment and our connections with each other.
That’s what ARiA appears to be all about: A massive think-tank focused on adding to our experiences of real life. And by all measures, this fledgling industry event is well stocked with the right kinds of experts and thinkers to push the market forward and ultimately change our lives.
For more information about ARiA, see the official website here: http://www.arinaction.org/