Increased adoption in 2018.

Business is forecast to take the leap and embed augmented reality (AR) and machine learning into their business practices in 2018. Consumers will be even more connected as invisible smartphone innovations open up application opportunities, according to Deloitte’s 2018 technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) predictions.

“We’re at the tipping point of widespread adoption of a number of technologies. In 2018 we will finally see business challenges being addressed by what has, to date, been consumer driven technology. But it will be a year of trial and error,” Deloitte Australia technology, media and telecommunications leader Kimberly Chang said.

Deloitte predicts that over a billion smartphone users will create AR content at least once in 2018 and by 2020 AR will generate direct revenues of US$1 billion. Currently around half of AR uses are non-enterprise focused but Australia is on the precipice of mass adoption, with particular potential in industries such as retail, training and marketing. AR also has a role to play in the future of work and job creation in Australia.

Chang said Australia can expect to see a lot of experimentation in 2018, but AR won’t becoming truly mainstream until internet speeds increase, technology becomes cheaper and wearable, and doesn’t overheat mobile devices or drain batteries.

“It is companies that identify ways of using AR technology, respond to specific business challenges and attract the right talent, and by setting themselves up for success in 2018 are potentially putting the budding Australian AR industry on the world map.”

Further, enterprises should experiment with possible applications. Aside from marketing opportunities, such as placing an AR-generated animated company logo anywhere or to superimpose a brand  mask on a user’s face, AR has the potential to assist with sales, technical guidance and after-market support.

Deloitte believes that while thousands of apps that include an AR element will be available by the end of 2018, a minority of content will drive the majority of usage. Based on the history of most apps, a majority are likely to be abandoned within a month with a minority remaining in frequent use.

Machine learning: when the chips are up

Machine learning is also set to hit its stride in 2018 with Deloitte predicting the number of implementations and pilot projects using the technology will double from 2017. While accepting uptake has been slow Deloitte expects to see leaps in experimentation around machine learning applications in 2018, particular in sectors including consumer electronics.

“Machine learning is not a new concept, but it is about to revolutionise our daily lives. A game-changer in 2018 is the dramatically enhanced processing power of a new generation of chips which can be used in smaller devices, consume less power, are more responsive and capable.”

However, she warned that there is a skills gap around the application of machine learning and to avoid falling behind the rest of the world, Australia needs to ensure it is producing a future workforce. “One that doesn’t just understand the algorithms but also how to apply machine learning and fine tune those algorithms to gain maximum impact for both the business and consumer in terms of value, cost savings and customer experience.”

With the smartphone predicted to be the primary device for AR content creation, Deloitte is predicting smartphone penetration in Australia will continue to increase, surpassing 90 per cent by the end of 2023. According to Chang, 2018 will be about how smartphones are used, with invisible innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI) chips likely to become standard across smartphones by 2023. “And with better batteries and connectivity, we can expect to see an increase in smartphone uses, including interacting with Internet of Things (IoT) devices and completing work-flow activities such as expenses and time sheets.”