5 Innovations That Could Shape the Future

AR/VR/XR startups raised almost $4 billion in the last year

This is certainly not the first time CSPs have faced that kind of “embrace the future—even if it means death by a thousand cuts—or go down in flames” message, but if companies like Mode continue to gather speed, it could be a warning worth considering.

Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR)

I came of age at a time when virtual reality seemed to be just around the corner. I remember when The Lawnmower Man was released, and let’s just say I had a fair number of classmates who were concerned about where this technology was headed. We’d lose ourselves in the machines, man! And from there the technology crept further and further into a certain brand of pop culture: Johnny Mnemonic, Strange Days, Virtuosity, The Matrix. On and on it went. This was our future: never knowing the real from the artificial, losing ourselves in computer-simulated dream worlds.

But I also remember trying out a Nintendo Virtual Boy at a Service Merchandise department store right after its release and being… underwhelmed. This is what was going to take over the world? I thought to experience virtual reality you needed to be strapped into a human-sized gyroscope in a neon bodysuit.

The hype cycle has been oh-so-long, but we really do seem to be getting somewhere. AR/VR/XR startups raised $3.6 billion in funding in the last year or so. Analysts CCS Insight predict 22 million VR headsets will be sold this year, pushing the AR/VR device market to $1.8 billion. Deloitte predicts that direct AR revenue will reach $1 billion by 2020 [PDF].

The tech is really solid, and becoming more affordable all the time. And CSPs really need to prepare for the bandwidth influx, as well as the many impacts widespread AR/VR adoption could have on the smartphone market, home-based entertainment, and a variety of other offerings.

In many ways, the success of this innovation relies on the success of another:


Yeah. It’s coming. It’s probably overhyped. But if it lives up to a fraction of its potential, it could make everything else on this list shine that much brighter. For more on 5G, read pretty much any article about innovation in any publication anywhere, and we've certainly covered it extensively in Pipeline.

While 5G seems a bit of a loss-leader itself, the innovation and use cases built on top of it stand to change the future. It's the low-to-no latency, speeds, and reliability that lay the foundations for self-driving cars and other mission-critical applications.

Will any of these innovations be as transformative as they have been set up to be? We have no idea—yet. But rather than delightfully choosing to just not know, we can do our best to stay primed for what’s next.


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