We’re stuck in the future: The top 5 Augmented Reality trends for 2015

It’s that time of year again! We just published our annual forward-looking summary of top Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality trends for 2015. From in-store Virtual Reality experiences to a new generation of head-up displays, see what’s on tap for the year ahead.

Here are the best AR apps of 2014

Summer 2014 has been an exciting time for Augmented Reality and this list of innovative top Augmented Reality apps tell a great story about what is to come in the months ahead. Our post on the Augmented Reality trends for 2014 mentions AR for driving and selling cars, immersive retail experiences, and wearables beyond Google Glass. The Augmented Reality trends and apps of Summer 2014 harness these trends and emerging technologies in ways we could have only imagined just six months ago. Here’s our list of the top ten Augmented Reality applications for Summer 2014.

1. Google’s Ingress for iOS

Ingress takes the number one spot on our list of top Augmented Reality apps of the summer because it suspends disbelief and immerses the user in a sub world like AR should. This app allows users to interact with historic sites that are “portals” to a parallel existence that allow Exotic Matter (XM) to escape into our world with two factions, The Resistance and The Enlightened, fighting for control of the portals. It brings social aspects with joint missions and events bringing the users to view the world through an Ingress filtered lens. The vast, immersive aspects of this Niantic Labs creation firmly number one spot to us.

2. Augmented Reality ATM

Does anyone remember the old school money booths where you step inside and try to catch the money as hurricane force winds are blown in your face? Now with new technology Grow Financial has changed this challenge into a fun marketing interaction with the Virtual Money Machine. Using skeletal recognition to allow players to catch money as it falls. This experience shatters conceptions of credit unions and is a unique experience amongst the flood of new AR applications.

3. Dragon Adventure World Explorer

The Dragon Adventure World Explorer (DAWE), based on the DreamWorks How to Train Your Dragon, allows for multiple types of game play – quests, training, battle – but the best of any dragon themed app is flight. The game play itself is not the reason this is one of the top AR apps of the summer. The DAWE app reacts real-time with your location using the car you are in as the quest turn in point, using the local terrain as obstacles: the skyscraper next to your car may be seen as a mountain, and the weather in the app is based on the weather of the current area you are in. This app takes AR immersion to the next level, allowing users to interact with their environment in a new way.

4. Penguin NAVI

The Sunshine Aquarium in Tokyo is a hidden gem of sorts, making Augmented Reality a perfect marketing tool. The app combines the use of a normal map to the aquarium, but has an additional mode where it projects realistically animated AR penguins to lead the way to the aquarium. The app has increased attendance by 152% with no changes to the aquarium itself. Of course, we love penguins. But we especially love clever, unique and useful AR solutions like the Penguin NAVI.

5. HomeSpotter

If you have ever bought a house or even shopped for one, then you know how difficult it can be to find the right home. The HomeSpotter app helps users discover and explore relevant properties while on the road. A Realtor can use the HomeSpotter iPad app to scan a house and view the listing. This practical application of AR has the power to make the home buying process easier, which gives it a home in the top five Augmented Reality apps of this summer.

6. TruLife Optics

The creators of TruLife Optics claim to have the missing link in defying reality with their holographic lens technology. The lens screen is 100% transparent and projection is very translucent, allowing the projected image to mesh with the rest of your optical interaction. There is much buzz about this product right now and is looking very promising. Solidifying the jump needed for the wearables market and providing seamless AR experiences.

7. Walgreens & Project Tango

The well-known pharmaceutical retailer is piloting Project Tango by Google. The new Walgreens app allows users to locate and map nearby retail locations. Even better: It provides in-store maps that direct consumers to the items they are seeking to buy. The in-app “store tour” is accompanied by promotions and product suggestions that pop off of the shelves. This Augmented Reality app is ultra cool, helpful and innovative for a drugstore. Walgreens is clearly a pioneer in retail marketing technology.

8. Continental AR Head-up display

Ever since my first online game let me customize my user interface to have a head-up display (HUD) with all sorts of needed information about resources left, I knew this feature would become a reality. The Continental AR-HUD has done this for drivers, in full color, on the windshield. The AR-HUD allows drivers access to relevant information about the road around them, speed, gauges and warnings. The efforts made by Continental are designed as part of the vision of accident free driving. The cool factor of the long desired real life HUD and the end result of safer roads seal this top ten spot.

9. Toywheel AR RC car

The one childhood toy that stood the test of time in my collection is my set of old Remote Controlled (RC) cars. Now, with Toywheel’s new AR RC car it can last through ages not to mention the cool various terrains and challenges presented within the app. The app provides immersive interactions that allow users, specifically children, to explore and interact in the space between reality and Virtual Reality.

10. Invizimals

Collector-style games, like Pokemon, have always been popular. Invizimals, available for PSP and PS Vita, is a great mimic of Pokemon with the added bonus of interacting with an environment and using you as the controller. Yes, the game has some technical flaws like when there is no more space to move in a single direction or inability to find a specific color shade, but the game bases background on where you are and uses famous actors to talk to you rather than at you. It feels like you are the master of game and monsters you capture.

From iPhone apps to hand-held gaming devices our list of the top ten Augmented Reality apps of summer 2014 is a diverse mesh of ever changing technology. As AR evolves, so will our top ten. One thing we know for sure: AR is progressing, creating cooler, more interactive, and immersive experiences.