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The Mobile AR Leaders of 2018 «Next Reality

This past year, we got a taste of what developers of mobile apps in Augmented Reality could do with Apple's ARKit, and most people had never heard of Animojis , Google's AR platform was still tango. Snapchat had just introduced his World Lens AR experience. Most of the mobile AR experiences in the wild were mark-based offers from Blippar and Zappar or generic Pokémon GO knock-offs.

Last year's NR50, released before the launch of ARKit, only two of the top 1

0 professionals worked directly with Mobile AR, and Apple CEO Tim Cook was ranked 26th, largely based on his forward-looking statements about AR.

Cook arrives at number one this year, with five others taking mobile AR in the categorized top 10 overall of the NR30

What a difference a year makes

In just 12 months we've seen how mobile AR grows at breakneck speed. Since Apple launched its AR toolkit, users have downloaded more than 13 million ARKit apps from the App Store. Previous apps have not been updated with ARKit features. Apple has already updated its platform and will introduce even more new features to the public with the release of ARKit 2.0 this fall. Last year, iPhone X also introduced a depth-sensitive camera and AR Animojis that captured the imagination of users.

Google completed the tango project, but followed Apple's lead by launching a platform with even more capabilities than ARKit 1.0 – ARCore. 19659003] Snapchat has expanded its AR platform with developer tools and advanced features, extending its AR experience to advertising and e-commerce capabilities. Facebook followed and duplicated Snapchat's AR features on every corner.

More extensive experience is just around the corner, as AR cloud platforms promise not only shared and persistent experiences, but also content that reacts more realistically to objects from reality. (This is occlusion, baby.)

Asked what AR's most important achievement was last year, ARKit and ARCore were the consensus of our NR30 winners. Despite all of its advancements, Mobile AR still feels very early on, until a small, portable hardware for AR experiences hits the market. In other words, while phone-based AR is now paramount, AR, which requires keeping a phone in front of your face, becomes outdated before we know it.

But now House Mobile is ruling the AR kingdom, and here are the gentlemen to whom we owe allegiance in 2018.

Tim Cook – Apple

Back in 2011, just months before Apple's co-founder Steve Jobs died, Tim Cook (pictured in the upper part of this article) took on the role of CEO. In doing so, he faced an almost impossible task: following one of the biggest CEO runs in the entire tech history, starting with the Mac and rising to unprecedented heights with the iPhone. While the iPad was struggling to gain a foothold in the market, the company soon introduced the Apple Watch, its first portable computing device. At first, the skeptics chanted it and framed it as an experiment that could be considered Cook's first major misstep since the founder's death.

But once again the critics were wrong. Only this time it was Cook who led the public towards a brand-new category of computers (smartwatches) that other competitors had not popularized despite their launch. And now, in 2018, Cook is facing the abyss of yet another computer revolution: Augmented Reality.

First unveiled in June 2017 at the Worldwide Developers Conference in California, Apple's ARKit is now the most pervasive immersive computing platform that is made available to millions of users on iPhones and iPads around the world. And the TrueDepth camera on the iPhone X has quickly normalized the process of mapping and merging the real with the virtual world. And like the original Mac, the first iPhone and the recently acquired Apple Watch, there are still some AR skeptics wondering why Apple is focusing on such a niche category. Nonetheless, we now have the innovations of the iPhone X and ARKit in our daily lives, and the rumors are starting to filter out: Apple may be preparing to release a pair of AR glasses. If that's true, it could be the perfect complement to its wristband accessory, and the last step in getting Apple everything done.

Of course, other AR hardware manufacturers have shown us how hard it is to do something good, much less small enough to fit in the frame of traditional glasses. But one thing is for sure, after all we've seen from the company over the past few decades, nobody will be surprised if Apple reveals the coolest, most fashionable AR glasses we've ever seen. In May, we learned that, despite its high price, the AR-friendly iPhone X became the world's best-selling smartphone with 345 million units sold as of Q1 2018. Apple still does not have the overall sales figures for the Apple Watch Most reports estimate that it remains at the top among all competitors. What happens when Apple combines the capabilities of the TrueDepth camera with a well thought-out portable device like the Apple Watch? Probably a hit in another, blue sky category. Cook is not quite there, but all signs indicate that his team with laser focus is working on it.

In the meantime, ARKit has managed to provide developers with a powerful platform that amazes immersive mobile computing experiences. Sure, there are now just over 2,000 ARKit-based apps on the App Store. But early iPhone developers still remember the days when creating an iPhone app was a Crapshoot in terms of ROI. Today, developing an ARKit app that will become a mainstream hit may look like a farce, but at least the development for ARKit is likely to pay off today when it's time to develop your Apple Glasses AR app.

And if the latest rumors are true, this day could come sooner than many have imagined. Stay tuned, Cook is developing a magic trick bigger than anything ever done by Jobs, blurring the boundaries between reality and virtuality wherever you go.

Evan Spiegel – Snap Inc.

Evan Spiegel, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Snap, Inc., is a pioneer in the field of mobile augmented reality, and his company has created a platform that today is Apple and Google in space challenges.

Image of Snap / YouTube

Mirror and co-founder Bobby Murphy, both students at Stanford University when they first met, launched Snapchat as ephemeral messaging in September 2011 App. Within a year, Mirror Stanford left to run the business full-time. Now, Snapchat is a subsidiary of Snap, Inc., which went public in 2017.

It was not until 2015 that Snapchat began using augmented reality lenses, beginning with front camera effects through facial recognition. Following the acquisition of Cimagine and its markerless augmented reality technology in 2016, Snapchat introduced World Lenses, which placed digital content like the "world's first AR superstar," the dancing hot dog, in the user's environment. Today, technology is one of the top three priorities in their 2018 business plan.

Paradoxically, the Spiegel app, launched as an antithesis to Facebook, is now hitting the social media giant head-on as a competitor in social augmented reality space. This competition is sure to go into the future with augmented reality wearables. While Snap's Spectacles does not yet have augmented reality capabilities, the company is working to introduce a Smartglass version of the product in 2019 that puts the company in the same arena as Facebook and its Oculus division, not to mention Rumors spreading rumors from Apple and Google's next attempt in the category.

Hugo Barra – Facebook

Looking at his summary, Hugo Barra has relatively little experience in augmented reality technically. However, it is his position as vice president of VR for Facebook and his track record in developing hardware and software products that make him one of the industry's most important faces.

Clay Bavor – Google

All tech giants are working on a form of augmented reality, including Google 2013 with Google Glass at the top. The company's latest AR efforts are Clay Bavor, vice president of Augmented and Virtual Reality, who took his position on cardboard grand pianos.

Image of Google / YouTube

After receiving his bachelor's degree in computer science from Princeton, Bavor joined Google in 2005. He worked on several Google advertising products and then led the product and design B. Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive, and the Google Apps suite.

Later, Bavor co-designed Google Cardboard 2014 as a DIY VR viewer. He led the development of the product until he took control of all Google's AR and VR activities in 2016. These included Tango, the Augmented Reality platform, which used depth sensors in smartphones, and the software for augmented reality experiences in Android apps.

Bavor's team sent a couple of commercially available devices through Lenovo and Asus, but Tango has never picked it up. However, Tango served as the foundation for Google's new ARCore platform, which uses computer vision to anchor Augmented Reality content instead of depth sensors.

Following the launch of ARCore in August 2017 and the official launch of the platform in February 2018, Bavor's team released the next iteration of the Google I / O platform in May. The update brought Cloud Anchors, a multiplayer protocol that works on iOS and Android. ARCore also enables Google's web-based AR push through the webXR protocol.

If everything goes as it looks like, Bavor's search giant efforts will have a massive impact on the rest of the AR industry.

Imran Khan – Snap Inc.

While Spiegel is the company's founder and CEO, Snap Inc.'s Chief Strategy Officer, Imran Khan, has paved the way for the company's IPO in 2017 and fast The manager was responsible for his advertising business. In other words, Khan was the manager who helped monetize Augmented Reality for Snapchat. But this successful track record is drawing to a close as Khan recently announced that he is stepping down from his position.

Image of TNW / YouTube

With a BA in Finance At Denver University, Khan worked on Wall Street before he came to Snap, resulting in the business world caused a stir. Previously, Khan served as Managing Director and Head of Global Internet Investment Banking for Credit Suisse, where he advised on more than $ 45 billion in technology M & A and financial transactions, and served as lead banker for Alibaba. Prior to Credit Suisse, Khan was Managing Director and Global Internet Search Director for JP Morgan Chase. In his time as an analyst, Khan wrote reports on Google, Amazon, and Apple, and has proven his expertise in the international technology business, mainly in China. (This experience will do him good, as his next move after leaving Snap is reportedly to include founding his own investment firm.)

As the driving force behind Snap's sales, Khan has continually developed new platforms for advertisers to augment Reality to use their campaigns. In 2017, Snapchat opened lenses and world lenses for sponsorship opportunities. And in 2018, Snapchat expanded its AR commercial offering with its new Snappables AR gaming platform, which also offers e-commerce tools through its Shopable AR platform.

To say that Snap will miss Khan's presence would be a great understatement. But Spiegel has managed to force the company to reinvent itself, so the gap in the upper ranks of the Snap leadership team is unlikely to last long.

John Hanke – Niantic Labs

John Hanke, as Founder and CEO of Niantic Labs, and with the support of Google, can partner with Ingress as a pioneer for location-based augmented reality gaming and as an independent company Pokémon GO score. Through Pokémon GO, Hanke and his company have also introduced Augmented Reality into the mainstream.

Berkley-Haas / YouTube Image

If you go far back, the roots of Niantic start with the geospatial app firm Keyhole, which Hanke founded in 2001 and Google acquired for $ 35 million in 2004. Hanke continued to lead the Keyhole team in the development of Google Maps, Google Earth and Street View.

In 2010, Hanke launched Niantic Labs as a Google subsidiary. Niantic released its first app in 2012 as Field Trip, an app that uncovered landmarks and points of interest based on the user's location as a basis for location-based gaming. Later in 2012, Niantic released its first game, Ingress, a cyberpunk-influenced, global version of Capture the Flag that turned landmarks into portals, split players into rival factions, and gained cult status.

The company was hived off as an independent company with $ 35 million Series A funding from The Pokémon Company Group, Google and Nintendo, and then announced Pokémon GO, which was released the following year. The game is not only based on Ingress with franchise-influenced elements, but also offers players the opportunity to see the classic pocket monsters in their physical environment. While the popularity of the zeitgeist has slowed somewhat in recent months, it is still one of the highest selling mobile apps.

Today, Niantic Labs expands its portfolio of location-based games with the upcoming ingress by $ 2 billion Prime Reboot and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite games. The company also promises the introduction of the next generation of Mobile Augmented Reality with the Niantic Real World Platform, which enables developers to create persistent content that reacts to the real world and enables shared multiplayer experiences.

Born and raised in Texas, Hanke graduated from the University of Texas in 1989 before earning his MBA in 1996 from the University of California. In the 1980s, it was probably hard for most of us to imagine the kind of games and apps that Niantic is currently developing. But it is this kind of pioneering spirit and vision that Hanke has promoted a long time ago, even though that edge fades into virtual objects on the edge of augmented reality.

Adario Strange and Tommy Palladino have both contributed to this article.

Do not Miss: The next 30 people of the next reality to be seen in Augmented Reality in 2018

Cover photo via Apple

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