• David Bomphrey

AR industry news - October 2020

The summer doesn’t usually lend itself to big tech news but this year is a bit of an exception. While the volume of announcements might be at normal levels, the significance and scale of the ones from the AR industry have been impactful, with all the big players now making huge moves in the AR Glasses space and announcing they all have a viable digital 3D map of the world specifically designed and marketed for AR.

Facebook Partners with Ray-Ban on AR smart glasses for 2021 - Source CNBC/Getty Images


  • iPhone 12 Pro was announced and includes a LiDAR scanner, like the recent iPad Pro. This allows the device to more accurately and spatially “see” and map the world around us, enabling a whole new level of AR gaming, retail and media.

  • ARKit 4 now includes full access to Apple’s Visual Positioning System and permanent anchors in the rebuilt Apple Maps. You’ve got to think this is only going to get better with a huge developer ecosystem and the LiDAR scanners in phones and tablets.


  • Mark Zuckerberg formally announces their partnership for the upcoming AR Smart Glasses with Ray-Ban.

  • At Oculus Connect Developer Conference, Facebook announced “Project Aria”, the sensor array required for full AR smart glasses putting all the component parts together. Specifically, 3D mapping, audio and eye tracking for placing AR content in the right place. Project Aria is “Mapping the World. Teaching devices to see, hear and contextualise, making sense of the situation so they can better help humans...”.

  • Project Aria is also about “figuring out the right privacy and safety and policy model.” Along similar lines Facebook Reality Labs has also published a principles framework for responsible design. Good news.


  • Announce permanent and persistent Earth anchors.

  • Content is more readily findable using the visual positioning system (VPS) used in Live Maps the AR direction service in Google Maps.


  • Formally launched Local Lens (video) in Carnaby Street, London. Early reports are that it works well and has huge potential impact for local visual search.

Niantic (Pokémon Go etc.)

  • Niantic have officially started mapping the world for AR via their huge gaming audience. It has begun.

  • Niantic turned 5 years old in October and celebrated in a number of ways. Pokémon Go was still the highest grossing mobile game in September (yes, really!) and they have been busy “bringing the Mobile industry together towards the 5G future of consumer AR” announcing the Planet-Scale AR Alliance. Included are Verizon, EE, Orange, T-Mobile, SK Telecom and more.

  • On a smaller scale they are also helping 1,000 small retailers drive footfall through their games by placing content there unders strict COVID safe conditions. Retailers can have a maximum of five shop fronts to participate.