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One of the subsegments of the spatial computing universe that we think holds the greatest opportunity is “building blocks.” Otherwise known as picks & shovels, these democratize and lower barriers to AR creation. Examples include Amazon Sumerian, Adobe Aero and of course Unity.
8th Wall is on that list for similar reasons. It provides tools for developers and brand marketers to build AR experiences that reach larger audiences. Web AR is 8th Wall’s jam as we’ve examined, having less user friction and “activation energy” relative to native apps (which it also supports).
Today, 8th Wall doubles down on Web AR with a web-based authoring and hosting platform. This lets developers author AR experiences in-browser without third-party software or server setup. It essentially bottles up some of Web AR’s user-facing advantages and brings them to developers.
Using the platform, AR developers will be able to collaborate from anywhere in the world. They’ll also be able to quickly view and resolve conflicts with an in-browser distributed version control system. This includes staging environments to test, publish and host Web AR projects.
The new platform essentially means less friction to get up and running with AR, which will appeal to those with less technical resources or far-flung teams. It also makes sense to lower barriers at a time in AR’s early lifespan when there are enough barriers already. It’s all about democratization.
“What we are launching democratizes AR web development,” 8th Wall’s newly minted VP of Product Tom Emrich told us. “Our platform aims to reduce the time to get sophisticated WebAR activations to market by enabling collaboration between large teams and removing other barriers developers face when building WebAR.”
One of the reasons this is important in a macro sense is to bring AR to more creators and thus consumers. The idea is to demystify AR and bring it into intermediate realms of creative development. That includes designers at ad agencies or even in-house brand marketers.
“Before this release, web developers needed to get our source code from GitHub, use third party tools to code, and set-up their own servers to test and launch,” said Emrich. “8th Wall’s authoring and hosting platform is one place to do this all. The impact on populating the web with AR content will be huge.”
This accelerated AR development could engender consumer acclimation and branded AR creation. It’s therefore a smart move for 8th Wall to expand the size of its own addressable market. It’s already powered AR experiences for Sony Pictures, Miller Lite, Porsche and others.
Speaking of addressable market, Web AR could have an advantage in attracting these reach-driven brands. It reaches almost 3 billion compatible devices according to our research arm ARtillery Intelligence. It has fewer active users today but a larger shell to grow into.
In addition to “democratization tools,” this falls into a category of AR spending we call B2B2C. It’s enterprise AR software but delineated from the common connotation of “enterprise AR” which is industrial automation. B2B2C is rather SaaS (or ARaaS) for brands to build AR for their customers.
This is one of the three most fruitful business models examined in a recent report by our research arm Artillery Intelligence. It will enable and accelerate the AR supply side, which will in turn acclimate the demand side (consumers) and work towards the flywheel effect that AR needs.
We’ll keep watching as 8th Wall and others continue to lead the AR sector in that direction. Meanwhile, 8th Wall stays true to its promise to cultivate “AR for everyone.” Today was it’s Oprah moment, but with AR development instead of new cars. That’s a different business model.
Disclosure: AR Insider has no financial stake in the companies mentioned in this post, nor received payment for its production. Disclosure and ethics policy can be seen here.
Header image credit: 8th Wall