Skills, Salary, and Industry Trends for Augmented Reality Jobs Through 2023

Twenty years ago, research and prototype stages were the norm for augmented reality. However, with the worldwide phenomenon of Pokémon Go, augmented reality has made its way into commercial use. This trend has continued to the present day, and in the next decade, graduates may pursue careers specialising in augmented reality. While there are few developers working in this field, this does not mean a limited workforce. Aspiring or current developers can take advantage of augmented reality opportunities, either in direct or indirect capacities.

This piece will delve into the basics of Augmented Reality (AR), encompassing its mechanics, available job roles, and the differences between it and Virtual Reality (VR). Additionally, we will examine the possibilities for utilising AR, current AR professions, and what prospective workers should take into consideration in order to thrive in this area.

The Functionality of Augmented Reality (AR) Technology

When engaged in an augmented reality encounter, individuals can engage with virtual renderings of genuine environmental components and surroundings. This may involve combining auditory, visual, haptic, and olfactory sensations to heighten immersion. To qualify as an augmented reality system, it must possess three significant characteristics; seamless integration of both the real and virtual worlds, real-time interaction with augmented components, and precise rendering in three dimensions.

Augmented reality technology, much like virtual reality technology, can have either positive or negative impacts on one’s surroundings. Unlike virtual reality, it doesn’t fully replace the real environment, but rather enhances or removes elements from it.

Augmented Reality (AR) technology consists of several hardware elements, such as microprocessors, databases, sensors, input and output devices, and headgear or analogous apparatus to connect them. Although a central processing unit (CPU) may be necessary for experimentation, current smartphones are powerful enough to run AR software as an application, thereby eliminating the requirement for an additional CPU unit. Output devices, such as screens and speakers, provide visual and auditory feedback, while haptic (touch-based) and olfactory (smell-based) output devices are less prevalent but still feasible.

Sensors are widely used as input devices, as they can provide real-time measurements of position, orientation, and other factors. Other input devices, such as microphones and controllers, are also available. The hardware used to mount components can vary depending on the intended use – this may include neural caps for research purposes or cardboard boxes with smartphones for running AR programmes. Although research is focusing on the development of contact lenses and retinal displays, glasses remain the most common device for commercial use. It’s worth noting that not all components need to be attached to the mounting hardware – heavier components such as computational devices are often kept separate and connected to the headset wirelessly or via cables.

A computer vision system is the most crucial software for autonomously recording real-world coordinates that are not dependent on a camera. Visual odometry, a subset of augography, is the foundation of computer vision, and entails creating augograms for augmented reality applications. The process of creating augograms involves two phases: feature detection and image processing techniques to identify pertinent features and reconstruct an accurate coordinate system for the physical world. Various mapping techniques can be utilised depending on the extent to which the scene is already known. Additionally, the appropriate software and hardware need to be selected based on factors such as user interaction, visual device, and the intended application.

Comparing and Contrasting: Augmented Reality vs. Virtual Reality

The principal difference between Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) lies in the level of immersion and the extent to which the real world is altered. For a complete VR experience, computer-generated imagery must fully replace the user’s visual field, while other types of output, such as sound, may stay unchanged. Conversely, AR only moderately modifies the environment in useful or harmful ways. Although VR offers greater technological immersion, AR provides a more authentic experience overall.

In a similar vein to the prior statement, augmented reality frequently presents higher degrees of interactivity. While virtual reality primarily focuses on creating an immersive experience, augmented reality empowers users to interact with both physical and virtual objects using various input techniques.

As a result, Augmented Reality (AR) typically demands a higher degree of processing power and data transfer than Virtual Reality (VR). This is because AR needs to seamlessly integrate and interact with the physical environment and objects, while VR may disregard them entirely.

The State of Augmented Reality and the Future of the Industry and Jobs

As augmented reality technology continues to advance, we can predict with reasonable certainty the types of jobs that may emerge in this field. In this section, we will discuss the current and potential future employment opportunities in augmented reality. These roles can be classified into the following categories:

  • Academic

    Augmented Reality (AR) has found numerous applications in the education and research sectors. For instance, AR can be employed to produce 3D replicas of ancient structures and lay them over real ruins at archaeological dig sites. In the classroom, this technology can be used to display 3D models over 2D representations, potentially enhancing learning outcomes. Additionally, using AR software to scan markers embedded in textbooks with existing infrastructure can unlock hidden content like reference materials to aid in problem-solving or block imitation websites.
  • Business

    Augmented Reality (AR) has a multitude of potential applications in the corporate sphere, spanning commercial to industrial contexts. Head-mounted AR displays could replace traditional clipboards and screens in the manufacturing and delivery sectors, supplying workers with information and guidance. AR can also facilitate ‘try before you buy’ experiences for customers in the business world – for instance, offering virtual models of furniture for customers to preview in their own environment.
  • Culture and Recreation

    When discussing augmented reality’s potential applications in the entertainment industry, gaming may be the first area that comes to mind. However, other forms of art and entertainment are starting to utilise AR technology, despite its initial popularity in gaming. Early examples include using augmented reality to visualise poetry and implementing eye-tracking functionality to enable people with disabilities to create art.
  • Design

    Augmented Reality (AR) has numerous commercial applications, especially in the design field. Architects, for example, use visualisation tools to position planned constructions in their real-world surroundings. This allows them to ensure the structure is both technically feasible and visually appealing.

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      Popular Career Options in Augmented Reality

      It’s important to note that jobs in augmented reality vary in type and scope. Therefore, we will refer to them collectively as ‘augmented reality jobs’ and organise them by industry. Here are some examples of careers in augmented reality that are currently available:

      • Software Careers in Augmented Reality

        Augmented reality (AR) is currently in the early stages of development, and current employment opportunities are mainly focused on testing applications. However, as the technology advances, it is expected that the number of AR-related roles will increase, with experienced professionals currently dominating the market. It is anticipated that recent graduates will also be able to find work in this sector in the near future. Experienced software developers and tool engineers are highly sought after, and candidates should possess knowledge of 3D platforms such as Oculus, coding proficiency in specific languages and the ability to use software such as Unity.
      • Industries Creating Jobs for AR Technology

        When discussing the impact of augmented reality (AR) on the workforce, we require more than anecdotal evidence and brief explanations. AR can provide a more precise approach to preventive maintenance, much like how keyhole surgery is less invasive and more effective. This is one example of how AR can be utilised in the workplace. Maintenance and installation professionals with experience in AR are in high demand, as they have technical proficiency and expertise in 3D tools. This enhances their employability and also does not necessitate prior programming experience.
      • Creative Jobs in Augmented Reality

        The billionaire’s extravagant use of intricate holograms remains one of the most memorable scenes in the movie. With the assistance of advanced augmented reality design tools and intelligent AI, he is able to out-design nations and corporations independently. While this is an extreme example, the potential benefits of a powerful design tool cannot be ignored. Working in 3D instead of on a 2D screen has become increasingly common due to the prevalence of graphic tablets. As a result, design engineers and graphic professionals with expertise in 3D modelling, animation, and rendering are highly sought after in this segment of the augmented reality job market.
      • The Entertainment Industry’s Requirement for Augmented Reality Specialists

        The use of Augmented Reality (AR) in the entertainment and gaming industries is quite similar. As AR technology improves, the availability of job opportunities in this area will also grow. Leading gaming platforms like PlayStation, Nintendo, and Xbox are spearheading AR development. It is probable that AR-related job openings will expand in the near future. Currently, game developers and designers with specialised training are most likely to find AR jobs. However, if AR technology becomes more widespread, the roles may switch, and those skilled in AR tools may need to learn game development to secure such positions.
      • Business Opportunities in Augmented Reality

        An unusual aspect of the augmented reality job sector is that it covers not only positions that utilise augmented reality, but also roles in the creation of these technologies. As previously mentioned, some companies may utilise 3D models to provide online shoppers with an enhanced experience, whilst in-store shoppers can benefit from embedded markers as an alternative to barcodes. Unpackaged items such as groceries may have a tag attached to them that can be scanned to reveal additional information. Software and hardware roles in augmented reality are crucial to the industry’s growth, with software development firms required to provide customers with necessary software and appropriate hardware sales. Although there is some overlap between these careers and other augmented reality roles, one significant difference is that applicants do not necessarily need expertise in computer science or mathematics, but can have experience in marketing or a related field.
      • Job Opportunities in Augmented Reality Research

        For many years, scientists were stumped by the structure of a specific protein until someone created a program that generates 3D protein folding models based on predetermined principles, which was made available to the public. This led to the development of the protein model within weeks, emphasising the importance of utilising visualisation tools and crowdsourcing for repetitive research tasks. This was accomplished by using a rudimentary 3D puzzle game. Now, augmented reality allows scientists to conduct focused studies with a level of visualisation that was once only available to the most accomplished researchers, resulting in the elimination of trial-and-error approaches. Simulations are critical for scientific observations at both the microscopic and macroscopic levels since the human eye is incapable of competing. The ability to execute computer simulations and make them visualisable beyond whiteboards offers a significant advantage, allowing researchers to make intuitive leaps that were previously impossible.
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            Are Augmented Reality Careers Poised for a Positive Future?

            Those who entered the workforce at the turn of the millennium can still remember the first affordable personal computers and public service announcements (PSAs) on the internet, and they are now able to use these tools almost instinctively at work. Consequently, many individuals who have recently started their careers have already encountered some of the initial augmented reality experiences in the world. While we cannot predict what the future holds, it is reasonable to assume that augmented reality opportunities will become more prevalent in the near future.

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