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Industrial Augmented Reality Solution Vendors Expand Capabilities And Market Share Through Partnerships And Acquisitions

The industrial augmented reality (AR) market is still nascent, with hardware as well as software vendors undertaking acquisitions and partnerships to expand their product capabilities and differentiate from competition. Microsoft develops apps for its HoloLens devices, while also hosting externally developed apps on the HoloLens appstore, such as Trimble Connect, an AR solution for 3D design. In some cases, specialised AR software firms develop apps solely for the HoloLens, such as the Canadian AR firm Kognitiv Spark, which developed RemoteSpark, an AR remote support tool, in partnership with Microsoft.

For other hardware providers such as RealWear and Vuzix, the bulk of software available on their devices is provided through partnerships. RealWear users can access work instructions and share documents through the Atheer Front Line platform and contact remote experts through Microsoft Teams or Cisco Webex Expert. The Vuzix App Store allows users to download AR for remote assistance software solutions, including Onsight Connect from the Canadian AR software developer Librestream and Remote from German competitor RE’FLEKT. RE’FLEKT is also a reseller of various devices including the RealWear HMT-1 line and Vuzix Smart Glasses.

AR software providers also partner with other software developers, either to extend their own capabilities, or to ensure easy integration with existing industrial as well as enterprise software. XMReality, a Swedish AR software provider, does not offer a work instruction feature natively but has partnered with SwipeGuide, a Dutch digital instruction developer, such that buyers can purchase a combined offering which integrates both solutions. Several AR software firms have also integrated with CRM system providers. Upskill, an American AR platform developer, allows users to connect its Skylight platform with Salesforce or ServiceMax, while Acty, the Italian provider of AR software can connect with SAP, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics and Zapier.

Acquisitions are also a key aspect of the augmented reality market, particularly in the software space. In December 2019, American AR software supplier Scope AR acquired WakingApp, an Israeli AR firm. The purchase was made to expand the capabilities of Scope AR’s WorkLink offering, an AR platform which combines remote assistance and AR work instruction authoring software. In July 2020, TeamViewer acquired Ubimax, a German AR software developer, to incorporate new functionality into the TeamViewer Pilot AR solution. Acquisitions by tech giants Apple and Google are also significant. Most industrial augmented reality users access the technology through Apple and Android smartphones which use Apple AR Kit and Google ARCore. Apple’s recent acquisition of NextVR shows a continued focus on the development of mixed reality technologies.

As the market grows, acquisitions of software firms offering niche functionality will accelerate while the various partnerships across software and hardware firms will continue to provide buyers with a more complete product offering.

For more research on industrial wearables, read the Verdantix report titled ‘Industrial Wearables Survey 2019: Budgets, Priorities & Tech Preferences

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Hugo Fuller

Analyst, Verdantix
Verdantix

Hugo is a Technology Analyst in the Verdantix Operational Excellence practice. His research agenda focuses on covering connected worker technologies, best practices, market trends and growth strategies. Hugo joined Verdantix in 2020 having worked previously in public relations and earned media at Cision. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from University College London.