Augmented reality is reshaping how enterprises manufacture, repair, upskill a workforce, and much more. In my conversations with execs at businesses around the globe, and at the flagship global AR event, Augmented World Expo 2019 (AWE), Scope AR is seeing greater momentum than ever before. Gartner recently dropped AR from its hype cycle, meaning the analyst firm considers augmented reality a mature technology, not an emerging one.

As the end of the calendar year approaches, it’s a good time to strap on some prediction goggles and see what the future might hold for AR in 2020.

HoloLens 2 validates and expands AR for business

The arrival of Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 signals a tipping point for AR and wearables. This is a second-generation headset that introduces massive improvements in gesture recognition, larger field-of-view, and overall ergonomics. But what’s most significant is who it’s not for, primarily: gamers or consumers. 

AR and VR hardware development — and what sometimes seems like an insane amount of venture capital — has followed videogame and immersive entertainment concepts. 

Microsoft flips that with the HoloLens 2. Redmond is squarely taking aim at the enterprise market, betting big that developers will create applications and find use cases that will put AR in a broad range of workflows. The company obviously knows how to create entire business ecosystems at enterprise scale. Expect a bevy of Fortune 100 businesses and even the U.S. military to make waves with HoloLens 2 AR use cases in the year ahead.

Who will throw their hat into the ring in 2020?

The arrival of HoloLens 2 will also open the floodgates in the wearables market. You’ll see new AR/VR devices from more blue-chip device manufacturers. While we may have to wait a bit longer for the long-rumored Apple glasses, there’s no way that other electronics powerhouses will stand still. Expect competitive, next-gen AR/VR iterations from Samsung, Google, Toshiba and more as they’re pushed to copy, innovate, or get left behind. Along with the HoloLens 2, competition and ubiquity will further expand AR potential in enterprise business and beyond. 

Niche AR players: Time to take the leap

With 2020 poised to be the year Big Tech gets heavy into AR, what’s going to happen to the smaller players? In tech, we’ve seen this movie before: industry consolidation and intellectual property acquisition. For start-ups, niche firms, or dreamers in AR and wearables, 2020 is the year to prove their technology is viable and compelling. Launch a compelling offering, get your devices on the heads of business users, and get ready to innovate faster than the giants to prove real ROI. There’s a $80+ billion market out there for AR/VR maturing in the next few years. 

Your next training? Cancel the flight, it’s in the headset

In 2020, the enterprise space will see substantial adoption of AR technology to train highly-specialized members of the workforce with on-demand knowledge. Training cost U.S. businesses $87 billion in 2018 alone — and that’s probably a conservative estimate. After all the travel expenses, convention center rentals and those huge urns of burnt coffee–well, there’s got to be some efficiencies to realize, right?

Obviously not every type of training makes sense for AR. But according to research from Todd Maddox with Amalgam Insights, the brain is naturally hardwired to forget. As a result, organizations should look for high-quality learning and development solutions that help employees retain essential knowledge, or ones that provide access to that knowledge in the moment it’s needed. Augmented reality is proving to be an effective medium for delivering intuitive, real-time information so workers can complete sophisticated tasks with little to no prior training.

At Scope AR, we’re already working with global category leaders to ensure your company’s expertise is sharable and that workers get the knowledge they need, when they need it – whether that’s through pre-built AR instructions or real-time remote assistance from someone else within the company. Some of the most important IP companies have is held by subject matter experts, like master technicians and career engineers. AR provides a way to build a knowledge repository, where you can capture and share expertise that helps everyone from assemblers to repair specialists learn the tricks specific to your business. Does it work? Lockheed Martin saw a 42 percent increase in productivity following an AR implementation with the WorkLink platform. 

2019 has been an incredible year across the AR category. 2020 will see major transformation and innovation. I can’t wait!