Augmented reality will soon redefine the very notion of computing, transforming the way we see the world and how we interact with software. Over the next five years, the AR user base is projected to grow by 35 percent per year, with estimates pegging the market at a cool $120 billion in revenue by 2020.
For many outside the tech community, the first glimpse into the possibilities of augmented reality came in the form of Snapchat’s now-ubiquitous Geofilters or the viral gaming phenomenon, Pokémon Go. But while these highlight the entertainment value of AR, the technology’s real-world applications are still being explored.
That was the theme at UC Berkeley’s recent Augmented Reality hackathon, where organizers asked the question, “what can augmented reality achieve in the context of business and commerce?” The answer? A whole lot.
Over the course of 24 hours, hackers used tools and gadgets from Google Tango and Intel to prototype a variety of AR tools built around real world use cases posed by Walmart Technology. These included everything from consumer-facing products such as in-store assistants and product finders to internal apps like a guided shelf stocking solution.
“AR can be anything, right? But we wanted this event to be focused on meaningful outcomes,” explained Jacob Pandian, Walmart’s academic engagement lead for emerging technology. “It was very impressive to see how some of the student teams stayed awake the whole night and worked on Walmart’s specific use cases.”
In addition to cash prizes for first, second and third place, Walmart offered a $5,000 innovation fellowship to one team to continue working on its idea over the course of the next semester. That honor went to Team AReta for its product-construction assistant, which guides customers in the assembly of bikes, furniture and other items. Pandian says Walmart will continue to provide guidance and support as the team works to turn its design into a minimum viable product.
For an inside look at the UC Berkeley AR hackathon, check out the video below.