The Metaverse is calling and one of the key converging technologies that will make it work is augmented reality. If AR breaks through, could it spell doom for TVs?
No. Or, at least, not any time soon.
While the Metaverse’s digital mirror is conceptualized as being experienced through some form of mobile AR or VR headgear, no-one thinks the next-gen internet is going to be switched on overnight.
“The metaverse will require countless new technologies, protocols, companies, innovations, and discoveries to work,” writes media tech sage Matthew Ball. “Instead, it will slowly emerge over time as different products, services, and capabilities integrate and meld together.”
READ MORE: The Metaverse: What It Is, Where to Find it, Who Will Build It, and Fortnite (Matthew Ball)
That hasn’t stopped others from talking about AR as a technology that could eventually replace mobile and the TV.
“I think, in lot of cases, what’s going to happen is people are going to throw away their TV and have a way bigger TV or they’re going to go to a totally virtual space that has a way bigger screen,” said Jason Jones, co-founder of the Halo and Destiny gaming studio Bungie, during a live stream. “AR is going to be the thing that displaces mobile. I’m so sure of that. I’m so sure that we’re all going to be wearing glasses and all the TVs are going to go in a landfill [and] all those companies are going to go out of business.”He’s not crazy enough to think we’re going to chuck out our TVs next month or next year. But Alan Wolk, co-founder and lead analyst at TV[R]EV, believes AR won’t ever completely replace TV.
“It’s a very different experience and it may be something that becomes very popular, [but] it will be in addition to TV, rather than a replacement,” he tells Ben Munson at Fierce Video. “Right now, AR seems to be more of a lean-in activity versus a lean back one and thus it will seem different to users.”
Indeed, smart TVs could present lucrative opportunities beyond just sales for manufacturers like Samsung, LG, and Vizio that also run free, ad-supported streaming television (FAST) services on their platforms. A new report from TV[R]EV predicts those companies will see 4.5x growth in ad revenue by 2026, when it will reach $6.17 billion.
These projections and more are likely part of the drive behind Amazon launching its own range of smart TVs.
The Omni Series TVs also support smart home features like live view picture-in-picture, which works with smart cameras and Ring video doorbells without interrupting TV viewing. Later this year, Amazon will add a smart home dashboard for viewing and controlling connected devices. The TVs also support video calling through external webcams.
Of course, there’s also reason to be extremely optimistic about the Metaverse as tech giants like Apple invest in AR. CEO Tim Cook recently suggested that the technology is integral to Apple’s future. According to Bloomberg, the company is adding AR content into Apple TV+, its subscription streaming video service. The feature will debut next year and allow viewers to access optional AR content — like characters and objects from Apple TV+ shows — through their iPhones or iPads.
It could still be decades before either AR or the Metaverse become truly mainstream. Says Munson, “That could all possibly change some day and consumers may end up dumping their flat screens in favor of an AR/VR/MR environment that fits into the wider metaverse. But for now, it seems like the TV still has a safe place in the living room.”