Let’s face it - there are times where we all feel like we wish ‘reality’ wouldn’t be so… well, real. But what if there was a way to escape, enhance, or change that perception of reality to adopt a different perspective on things? Well, thanks to new and continued innovations in the field of Augmented Reality, this isn’t only possible, but rapidly becoming a key element of our daily life and work. And for us in the Creative field, the possibilities for most projects are as limitless as the term ‘Augmented’ would suggest. More so than ever, creative projects are moving increasingly toward virtual and augmented reality, escaping the more staid, static nature of just ‘regular’ reality for a more customized, dynamic, and immersive experience that drives top ROI.
A recent research study found that the Augmented Reality market has achieved significant growth so far, with this trend only expected to increase going forward, with the industry projecting revenues of $38 billion by 2026. This immense growth is giving rise to new dynamics and demands from key industries, such as medical, retail, and automotive as capabilities and potential uses grow. Investors are clamoring to jump on-board with nascent Augmented Reality technology development and innovation, and this emerging industry is spelling huge potential and changes for the broader workforce as a whole.
So, first things first? What is Augmented Reality, anyway?
Simply put, Augmented Reality, or AR for short, refers to the ability to leverage technology to ‘layer’ one sense of reality on top of another. And while this might initially seem difficult to get your head around, you might remember a fad that swept social media culture last summer called Pokémon Go - which was one of the most mainstream uses of AR technology in consumers’ hands to-date. Players used their own devices within their neighborhoods and ‘real’ worlds - meanwhile, the AR technology would place Pokémon characters overlaid on this world- creating a new realm over-top of it.
What is happening in the larger market as AR capabilities, business benefits, and ‘cool-factor’ surge?
In short, the AR revolution is bringing with it an even greater focus on mobile technologies, tools, and design materials, with creative professionals who are able to envision the user at the outset of the creation and a customized approach. Also, the trends are shifting to embrace more of agile, dispersed work team - focused on hiring for the project based on a specific skill needed and an in-depth understanding of the end-user as opposed to proximity and location.
Skills and specific talents as they apply are now at an all-time premium, and gone are the days when the market prized acting as a ‘jack-of-all-trades.’ The best ways to survive and keep work flowing through your door these days are not just to be excellent at what you do (that really should go without saying, right?!) but to consistently evolve your skill sets and perspectives, to have as many deep talents and experiences to draw on as possible for when new projects emerge.
The question then becomes - as a Creative Professional, what top skills and talents do you need to sharpen, acquire, and/or leverage to become an AR project rock star?
On the design side in particular:
- Deep knowledge of social/web-based content - design, creation, and utilization for a top-quality, dynamic experience from the end user’s perspective that also draws ROI; and
- User Experience (UX) Mobile Design to really take that experience of ‘putting yourself in the user’s shoes’ to the next level in the sense of actually aligning yourself with their desires, needs, goals, and feelings to be able to create something truly innovative, immersive, and stimulating.
- Other tools are important within this as well, including:
- 3D Modeling for Native App Development
- Computer Vision
- Marker Detection
- Mobile Programming (such as iOS and Android)
- Low-Level Programming-Language Knowledge (C#, C++, JavaSript, etc.)
- Knowledge of Relevant SDKs (HoloLens, etc.)
A recent piece by Talent Economy also breaks down the specific roles and talents needed on a VR/AR team to generate a compelling, original experience - and it’s more than just design and development. Some key roles include broader-scale technology experts, animators, audio design, audience development abilities, including user studies, psychology, and storytellers, and experts in video areas, particularly stitching, color corrections, and using drone technology (usually requiring a pilot’s license!) to capture unique vantage points and camera angles in visual materials.
The bottom-line is, the burgeoning AR market offers a host of benefits for organizations primed for growth. For those in the creative field, it creates a dynamic venue where creative, production and technology innovators come together to develop experiences for enterprise or consumer use creates new opportunities for professionals in these fields.
Creative professionals are also consistently required to push boundaries and comfort levels, to hone their skills, deepen their awareness, and strive to create something truly vibrant. AR truly delivers a host of ‘dare to be great’ scenarios for creative types - get out and explore them!