Here’s How Big Data Is Transforming Augmented Reality

Big data is totally changing the way AR and VR function. Here's how big data is transforming augmented reality, and why that's important.

February 8, 2019
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Augmented reality is one of the most exciting developments of recent times, with a myriad of business and entertainment applications just waiting to be exploited by clever companies who can master the technology first. Before augmented reality can become an everyday facet of our lives, however, a number of kinks need to be ironed out first, which is why so many in the industry are turning to the power of big data for assistance. Here’s how modern companies are transforming AR from a dream into a reality by tapping into the power of huge pools of insightful data.

AR needs data to survive and thrive

Like virtually every recent technological advancement that’s upending the market, augmented reality needs plentiful troves of data if it’s to survive and thrive for long. With literally billions of digital devices already dotting the globe, it’s easy to imagine that we’re already inundated with as much data as possible. As a matter of fact, however, the increasing quantity – and more important, the better quality – of data these days is one of the instrumental engines of AR growth. Only after AR startups realize they need access to huge data pools do they ever attain true success. Don’t view the relationship between AR and data as a parasitic one, however; it’s more of a symbiotic pairing where both AR and big data initiatives benefit from working with one another. There’s increasing reason to believe that AR can help us visualize the immense complexity of big data, for instance. As visualization techniques become more advanced, everyday consumers and tireless business professionals will both benefit from the ability to take a huge mountain of daunting information and compact it into an easily-digestible graphic or chart that can be projected directly in front of you with AR tech. As more attention is paid towards big data visualization, however, it’s imperative to understand that there are many ways which data analytics and augmented reality literally build off one another. A recent discussion centered on AR that was carried out by professionals at IBM highlights one of the many ways that data and AR are transforming one another; by using AR tech, for instance, it can be easier for working professionals to grasp difficult software programs, which helps them derive better insights from methods that already exist in the market. As time goes on, it will increasingly become the market-wide consensus that we can get better data through AR if we focus on making data simpler to understand.

There are still hurdles to overcome

Before big data can turn augmented reality from an interesting but nascent technology into a fully-developed one, there are still some hurdles that must be overcome. Some of the top learnings we can derive from existing AR initiatives, for instance, desperately need to become industry-wide knowledge. While it’s growing increasingly clear that AR can be used to produce intriguing 3D charts and models, most industry professionals have arrived at the conclusion that these models are oftentimes unreadable and simply not worth the hassle. By going over the top discoveries when it comes to using AR to visualize data, industry professionals can learn what simple mistakes to avoid while also uncovering the hidden secrets to success. Another hurdle that stands in the path of widespread AR acceptance is the mastering of existing AI technology. Augmented reality technology simply can’t exist in a profitable state without the help of AI programs, which leverage deep neural networks to provide near-instantaneous machine vision. When Facebook made its big AR announcement, for instance, it was made clear to everyone paying attention that AI was literally being brought directly to your phone whenever you used it for AR purposes. At the end of the day, AR can only survive if it makes clever use of data pools and the AI networks that make use of such data troves. This isn’t because the technology is weak in and of itself, but rather because collaboration is the key to success in the modern marketplace. A technology is only useful insofar as it helps a company turn a profit, which is not easy as we’ve seen with the wildly fluctuating bitcoin price. And AR becomes vastly more enticing and profitable when it’s combined with other nascent technologies that are just beginning to emerge on the commercial marketplace.

Expect plenty of changes to come

Despite the frantic pace at which augmented reality has been advancing over the past few years, there are still plenty of changes in store for industry professionals and intrigued consumers who are obsessed with this new technology. The continued proliferation of digital devices around the world, for instance, will open up new doors for the AR industry; AR is oftentimes purpose-built for handheld mobile phones and tablets, for instance, so as these devices multiply and spread around the world so too will the AR services that follow them. Additionally, the ever-growing complexity of neural networks means that AI programs of the future will be able to wow us with much more visually impressive renditions than current AR initiatives can produce. As computing power grows, so too will our ability to project an imagined, digital world unto our very real one. Major companies like Facebook will doubtlessly work to try and monopolize the AR industry, but the vibrant nature of this technology and its countless applications to real-life business problems and entertainment models means that there will be plenty of profits to be made for all. In other words, don’t expect all of the major AR innovations to stem from Silicon Valley giants in the future, as plenty of small fish can contribute to the industry in their own ways. The lines between what’s real and fake will continue to blur, as well, meaning AR professionals will have to work tirelessly to build support with a public body of consumers who may grow deeply distrustful of technology that can be used harmfully. Despite these fears, however, AR has a bright future ahead of it largely thanks to the way that big data is helping transform it from a fantasy into a practical business reality.