After much anticipation, augmented reality (AR) has come into its own in 2017. There is now a range of hardware and apps available for consumers to purchase and try. Here we’ve gathered together four of the best AR technology trends that played out this year.

Expanding Mobile AR Experiences
There’s no denying that Pokémon Go! created an AR experience that was enjoyed by the masses and brought augmented reality to the fore of public consciousness. Snapchat’s AR filters furthered the fun with useable mobile AR experiences.

Nintendo expanded on this even further with their game from Niantic. It proved to consumers and businesses alike that AR energizes users in real-time through a mobile experience that has piqued the interest of many.

Snapchat has been fetching consistent and healthy ad revenue from their AR app-based digital marketing methods, and Facebook is just one platform ready to follow suit. What’s more, Apple upped the augmented reality development ante this year with their ARKit for iOS.

Retail Applications of AR 
Thanks to the digital layers or holograms that AR technology creates for consumers in their real-life environment in real-time, it is already changing the way people see the world around them. Thus, it is poised to innovate the way that we shop online.

AR technology in e-commerce is quickly advancing. According to Retail Perceptions, 61% of shoppers prefer to shop at stores that offer AR, whilst 71% would shop more frequently with retailers who offer AR.

Furthermore, mobile shoppers have overtaken desktop consumers, making up 61% of all e-commerce traffic. Conversions, however, remain 63% lower on mobile as compared with desktop users. AR is already beginning to change this and showing real benefits for consumers and retailers alike. Gap’s Dressing Room app created with Avametric is just one example of how augmented reality is making mobile experiences more useful and engaging.

AR Headsets
The AR headset race currently has Microsoft Hololens at the lead with their developer’s version of the working head-mounted display (HMD). Notwithstanding Magic Leap and other players, the Hololens has consistently moved ahead with development and distribution of their hardware.

Thanks to the commercial and developer versions of Hololens, we’ve seen an upturn in the adoption of AR headsets. As a result, this hardware is beginning to breaking out of exclusively the gaming field and into other areas, including medicine and practical work applications.

The Hololens community continues to grow as more developers jump onboard and build programs specifically for the hardware. Further adoption of augmented reality HMDs will demonstrate the integration of AR and the future of computing for everyday life.

Mixed Reality 
Mixed reality, sometimes referred to as hybrid reality, is another growing area closely related to AR. As headsets further evolve, AR headsets with more immersive capabilities are emerging alongside VR headsets that are able to see the world around them, such as the HTC Vive. It’s likely that these technologies will merge to create an easy transition between VR and AR experiences in the not-so-distant future.

Augmented reality technology has flourished this year and is set to further develop amongst mainstream audiences who are keen for new experiences across all verticals. These four examples are the ones that defined this year in the AR realm, but you can expect much more to emerge in the years following. As the technology develops from both UI and UX perspectives, it will be more suited to meet the demands of both businesses and consumers and continue to increase in popularity.

Guest post by Serena Garner, Y Media Labs  

Photo by Mikhail Nilov on