Ad Age @ CES: 5 Things We Learned About AR and VR

By Brian Braiker and Megan Graham | January 11, 2018 |

Overheard at CES: "It's spring for AR -- and winter for VR."

While that may be a gross simplification, it's clear on the ground in Las Vegas that augmented reality is having a moment. Virtual reality may have to take a back seat as AR increasingly proves it has real-life uses -- ones that don't require wearing a goofy headset.

We discussed the topic with some of the top content creators, disitributors and thinkers in the medium. What the video above to see what they had to say.

Here are a few of the takeaways for brands, agencies and publishers:

1. There are current, practical consumer uses for AR

Pokémon Go was more than fun and games. Miles Perkins says it got his 10-year-old son off the couch, and outside and walking. "He had me drop him off three miles away!" says Perkins, the VP of marketing and communications at Jaunt, a VR content production and distribution company. Pokémon Go was also proof of concept.

2. Still, no one really knows where it's going to end up

"Anybody who tells you anything about immersive VR is lying -- including myself," says Perkins. The medium is not TV, he says, and it's not cinema -- it's its own thing. "People are going to try different things. You're going to start to see traditional methods of delivering shattered and broken."

3. The phone will likely drive the evolution

The tipping point is going to be mobile computing power, predicts Will Wiseman, chief strategy officer of media agency PHD. "The biggest barrier to the growth of AR and VR has been that the technology environment that the everyday consumer lives in and is native to doesn't support it," he says. "Two years from now we're gong to be talking about 5G from a mobile computing perspective. 

4. But the tech isn't the whole story

Perkins likens the emerging tech to fire, which needs three components to thrive: Heat, oxygen and fuel. What AR and VR need to thrive -- and it's only a matter of time, he says.

5. Meanwhile, it's the Wild West for brands

In streaming video, brands understand who's watching and what they're watching, but they don't really know for sure where the audience's attention is: "It could be on the screen and they could be off brushing their teeth," says Perkins. "In [VR], I know exactly where they're looking, every tenth of a second."