Suite 48a study finds ample supply of innovative apps to jumpstart consumer AR adoption

Augmented reality is poised to forever change how consumers experience the world

From apps that control noise-canceling headphones to remove unwanted sound to shopping apps that show how a new couch would look in our living room, via apps that embed enticing videos on our child’s favorite storybook pages, consumer AR apps are here now. According to the just published Consumer AR App Trends study by Suite 48 Analytics, they’re no longer future promises waiting to be developed when the ideal AR hardware has come to market. The first wave of consumer AR apps is already here, and a range of new AR tool development platforms offered by the large OS, social media and cloud storage providers all but guarantees this is just the beginning.

The study analyzes 87 consumer AR apps, and classifies them into 20 distinct categories. While consumer wearable AR solutions (such as AR glasses for AR overlay experiences or AR headsets for viewing the world along with immersive virtual content), spatial AR systems (such as that project holograms onto our view of the world), and synthetic AR (such as AR contact lenses), are not yet ready for mass consumer adoption, the current state of AR hardware is not a bottleneck that prevents today’s consumers from using AR apps, according to the study’s co-author, Floris van Eck.

While we keep hearing that VR is not taking off due to a lack of compelling content, that is simply not the case for AR. Many consumers are already familiar with viewing the world through their smartphone camera by looking up content from QR codes or playing with Pokémon Go, therefore handheld AR apps are not a paradigm shift for them,” according to van Eck.

Co-author Hans Hartman adds, “We are impressed by the variety and depth of AR apps already on the market, and the variety of use cases they address. Since e-commerce is one of them, we’re all but guaranteed that venture-funded startups as well as e-commerce incumbents will continue to invest in AR apps and platform development tools.”

The study recommends that, rather than waiting for more, better and cheaper AR hardware, industry players grow the nascent AR market by establishing an industry-endorsed AR icon (such as those that exist for QR codes, WiFi and Bluetooth for instance), enabling consumers to easily notice when there is AR content available. The study also stresses the importance of enabling consumers to view AR content in a frictionless and consistent manner in order to encourage the ubiquitous use of AR and grow the market, without their needing to download vendor-specific apps each time they encounter AR content.

The 124-page Consumer AR App Trends report contains overall AR industry recommendations, as well as specific recommendations for:

  • cloud storage providers,
  • photo and video sharing platforms,
  • camera vendors,
  • photo and video app developers, and
  • photo print product vendors.

The report is divided into the following chapters:

  • AR – The Concept
  • AR – The Features
  • AR – The Hardware
  • AR – The Experience Types
  • AR – The Applications
  • AR – The Development Tool Platforms
  • AR – Recommendations for Developing AR Solutions
  • AR – Recommendations for Imaging Ecosystem Vendors


About Floris van Eck

Floris van Eck is the founder of FutureOutpost, a firm that drives innovation by providing strategic analysis & insights around emerging and future technologies, with a focus on virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence.

About Hans Hartman

Hans Hartman is chair of Visual 1st (formerly Mobile Photo Connect), a global conference focused on promoting innovation and partnerships in the photo and video ecosystem, and founder of Suite 48 Analytics, a market research firm for the photo and video industry.

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