The new year always brings pundit predictions. Unfortunately, most are general takes with no teeth nor quantifiable accountability (e.g., “XYZ will be big this year”). To avoid that watered-down approach, we aspire in our predictions to have concrete outcomes such as sales figures.

With that discerning eye, a worthwhile set of predictions recently crossed our desks. Former colleagues and partners at AWE and Super Ventures, Ori Inbar and Tom Emrich, reunited to break down their 2024 outlook. The discussion ended up being much deeper than just predictions.

If you weren’t able to catch the event, we have you covered. We’ve summarized each of the ten trends that they tackle, as well as the full event video embed. Check out both below, with some of our related trends sprinkled in for solidarity. If you have time, we recommend the full video.

Let’s dive in…

1. 2024: A Breakthrough Year for XR?

– XR is seeing momentum as it collides with AI and excitement builds.
– This was seen at CES where XR and smartglasses made a big splash.
– XReal Air 2 Ultra and Sony’s new enterprise play were show favorites.
– Apple Vision Pro has also sparked XR excitement on a larger scale.
– There’s also evidence in figures & projections from research firms.
– After a dip in ’23, some are projecting hardware shipments to grow 46%.

2. 2024: The Year of Spatial Computing?

– “Spatial computing” isn’t a new term but it sees mainstream recognition.
– Emrich: the term will be this year’s media darling, propelled by Apple.
– Transitioning from all the acronyms will make it more mainstream-friendly.
– This also broadens the opportunity into orbiting sectors, including AI.
– This also includes everything from autonomous vehicles to filmmaking.

3. 2024: The Year of Mixed Reality?

– There’s been some naming confusion but MR is finally coalescing.
– It has come to denote devices that perform both AR and VR.
– Quest 3, and other passthrough AR devices, helped solidify this.
– As a result, passthrough AR (MR) will be a new standard in VR.
– Seeing the real world by default also makes VR less isolating.
– MR also accelerates AR and represents the latest stage in its journey.
– Inbar: MR is the realistic stepping stone to the AR that we all want.

2024 Predictions: MR Becomes Table Stakes in VR

4. 2004: The Year of AI + XR?

– Despite linkbait headlines, AI doesn’t replace XR but enhances it.
– In fact, XR can be seen as the front end, or GUI, of AI.
– Similarly, AI can be the brains of XR, amplifying its capabilities.
– Gen AI can also support XR developer workflows as a “copilot.”
– Emrich: spatial computing could outpace AI in 2024 in mindshare.

2024 Predictions: AR & AI Get Hitched

5. 2004: The Year of Apple Vision Pro?

– AVP has already injected broader excitement and attention in XR.
– Regardless of unit sales, Apple’s classic “halo effect” will have an impact.
– This is 40 years after the introduction of the Mac, a symbolic milestone.
– But don’t measure it on a pass/fail basis… this is the start of a slow process.
– This year, it could be more of a dev kit for developers to gain their footing.
– Then again, it could be like the iPhone’s first year of cultivating user habits.
– Either way, AVP will realize greater value when spatial apps are plentiful.
– Meanwhile, consumers may need 2D apps as baby steps towards that day.

2024 Predictions: Vision Pro Propelled by Wearables

6. The Race for AI Glasses?

– AR glasses with rich visuals used to be the endgame, but that changes with AI
– Though visuals are still valuable (AVP anyone?), AI is filling an important gap.
– This is exemplified by Ray Ban Meta Smartglasses and their multimodal AI.
– The value here isn’t in a visually-robust UX but rather in relevant info and utility.
– Altogether there will be a continuum of devices from audio AR to full-blown AR.
– Somewhere in between are private large-screen experiences like Xreal Air.
– The latter could be promising due to a widely-appealing entertainment use case.

2024 Predictions: A Smart Glasses Turning Point

7. The Industrial Metaverse?

– While all the above continues to evolve, we can’t forget about enterprise XR.
– This is where many of the consumer markets’ adoption barriers are mitigated.
– There’s also a clearer ROI story for various flavors of enterprise productivity.
– For these reasons, much of the XR action (read: revenue) is in the enterprise.
– According to Inbar, enterprise XR funding pitches still use the M-word.
– The metaverse still makes sense in the enterprise because it’s more realistic.
– Building a virtual simulation of your factory floor is attainable and valuable.

8. The Year of Big Tech in XR?

– Another key question: will the deep pockets of big tech continue to drive XR?
– Beyond Apple, this includes several influential players.
– Microsoft is building real value in enterprise XR including Azure & Mesh.
– Meta is pushing boundaries across the device continuum noted above.
– Google has retracted from hardware but is a software powerhouse (e.g., Lens).
– Samsung will fill the hardware gap left by Google in partnering on a device.
– And Qualcomm, which is everywhere in XR, will be the third leg of that stool.
– Altogether Apple will be Apple in its vertical integration of a full spatial stack.
– Meta will do the same as it joins Apple’s full-stack approach in the spatial era.
– Everyone else will partner to build spatial stacks: (the Android/Windows approach).

2024 Predictions: New APIs & SDKs Elevate AR

9. What Could Go Wrong?

– There’s so much activity in all the moving parts above… what could go wrong?
– There are well-founded concerns over inequity, social isolation, and health.
– Safety, privacy, and security have to be baked into the products, says Inbar.
– They also have to be baked into the business models to truly have an impact.
– Emrich: Spatial computing could also go wrong if we expect too much of it.
– Manage expectations about what the technology can and can’t do.
– 2024 will be great but AVP (or anything else) won’t be revolutionary overnight.
– Keep in mind this is a long game, with worthwhile milestones along the way.

10. The Year of XR Investments?

– What do investors’ demand signals and objectives currently look like?
– The M-word may have disappeared from most pitches but what has replaced it?
– As always, fundamentals win, not buzzwords: Good ideas, teams, and execution.
– Inbar: Show traction, show value, show a path to revenue.
– Emrich: find real problems that need to be solved and uniquely solve them.
– Focus is also key: don’t try to do too many things at once and boil the ocean.
– Meanwhile, all the trends above will create opportunity gaps in the spatial stack.

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