Augmenting Our World: Three AR Trends On The Rise

Exploring the rise of AR-based entertainment.

Whether it be gaming, education, travel and navigation, or marketing, AR offers both consumers and companies a rapidly-growing medium in which to enhance nearly every facet of our lives.

According to a report from MarketWatch, the “AR Gaming Market” is expected to reach over $280 billion by 2023 (HTF). Plus, Smart Toy revenue is estimated to grow by almost 200% to $18 Billion by 2023 (Juniper Research). 

Valerie Vacante is the Founder, Managing Partner of Collabsco // Image Credit: Collabsco

Not only that, Collabsco’s 2019 Connected Play Landscape maps out over 260 connected play experiences across various emerging technologies in the physical and digital world. 18.3% are AR experiences; that’s a 118% increase in growth since 2018. While it’s clear that augmented reality is no doubt “ARcading” the world around, three major trends, in particular, have begun to arise within the industry: Augmented Physical Activity, Crafting & Collaboration, and AR Boardgaming.


We are well past the days of sitting down, eating junk food, and gaming in the dark; 2019 is all about physical activity and finding a balance of purposeful tech. According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 5 school age children and young people (6 to 19 years) in the United States suffer from obesity. Getting kids and families moving is a positive play by toy and gaming companies.

Location-based AR gaming continues to lead the way in the transition to more physically-active gameplay. Niantic’s power play, Pokemon GO, drove global adoption of location-based AR gaming. According to SensorTower, “It’s possible we’ll see the game surpass $3 billion in lifetime revenue by the end of 2019.” More importantly, Pokemon GO’s wild success sparked a rise in other location-based AR games, kickstarting a new generation of mobile gaming in the process.

Recent AR game launches include Dragon Quest Walk, Harry Potter Wizards Unite, and Jurassic World Alive’s new feature Sanctuaries.

However, it’s not just location-based AR gaming that is getting kids and families up and moving.

Using interactive projection-based technology, Lumo Play transforms floors, walls, and various other conventional spaces into immersive gaming experiences. Players can make their own games with Lumo Play’s code-free tools, or choose from hundreds of games in their library; disco dancing, air hockey, and more.

Award-winning Biba is transforming playgrounds into interactive AR game parks. There are currently over 3,600 playgrounds worldwide fitted with Biba’s colorful character icon markers, which—when scanned by parents—will unlock digital stories and missions for kids to complete.

DribbleUp is a collection of AR-based sports games which allows you to interact with a variety of physics-based sports balls, including soccer, basketball, and medicine. The experience is packed with hours of augmented reality activities, allowing users to practice ball control, as well as juggling and shooting drills; you can even connect your smart device to your TV set for indoor big screen interactive play.


Along with promoting physical activity, AR has become a popular tool for those looking to create and collaborate with others.

Minecraft Earth by MOJANG and Microsoft lets players craft their way throughout a variety of real-world locations. Not only can you build your own structures, you can also discover various other creations by exploring the world around you.

The MERGE Cube offers a variety of educational gaming experiences using a physical device which can be altered and interacted with in AR. One experience, DIG, allows kids to build on top of the physical cube in augmented reality, similar to other crafting experiences, such as Minecraft.

SwapBots are collectible, customizable toys and games that come to life through augmented reality. Create your character, scan it into the game, and teleport into a digital world with your one-of-a-kind creation. LEGO Playgrounds is another mixed reality experience powered by physical objects; a connected play experience designed to encourage kids and LEGO fans of all ages to create and interact with the physical and digital worlds.


Board games have been around for decades, but a connected play experience bridging the physical and digital world is still relatively new on the family gaming front.

Despite having been around for nearly a decade, Rovio’s Angry Birds continues to push the boundaries of family game night. Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs takes all the elements you know and love from the original series and delivers them to you in an immersive augmented environment, allowing players to transform almost any space into an AR battlefield; from the living room floor to the back patio, and everywhere in between. Play solo or get cozy and take turns playing together.

Pictionary Air by Mattel makes the world your canvas. Combining the classic Pictionary experience with AR technology, the game tasks one player with using their smartphone to draw clues in the air while teammates guess the images that appear on the screen. The team with the most points wins!

Tilt Five is creating an augmented reality system for tabletop gaming. Using a pair of specially-design glasses, players are able to see, hear, and interact with realistic 3D holograms that entertain and educate gamers of all ages. Tilt Five allows players to explore, battle, and solve puzzles in single player or multiplayer matches against others, whether they’re sitting across the table or located on the other side of the world. Various gaming experiences are available, from retro gaming to mystical worlds.

The Explorers, created by Unicorn Games, is a familiar board game-like experience packed with digital mini-games that bridge conventional gaming with AR. Players can discover mysterious AR treasures and team-up on various puzzles.

Andy Robertson, Author of the book Taming Gaming states, “Video games instill amazing qualities in children. They spark curiosity and thankfulness with beautiful interactive landscapes. They nurture compassion and courage through adrenaline adventures played through other people’s eyes. They plant seeds of resilience and patience with their challenging quests and puzzles. They invite reflection and questioning with evolving stories of the unexpected.”

While the days of heading to the local arcade with a pocket full of quarters may be over, AR technology is keeping the dream alive by transforming the world around us into one giant arcade.

Featured Image Credit: Microsoft

About the Scout

Valerie Vacante

Val Vacante is the Director of Strategy for global customer experience agency, Merkle, a dentsu company, where she uncovers cultural trends, designs strategies, and next-generation innovations. Val is also the Founder of strategy and innovation firm Collabsco. Val has pioneered digital products and integrated marketing experiences across digital platforms, connected communities, IoT, and extended reality experiences for Fortune 100 brands and up-and-coming startups. Named Top 25 Women in Tech, 40/ Forty, and Top 10 Pioneering CEOs to Follow, she serves on the SXSW Innovation Advisory Board, MassChallenge Expert, an international speaker, and writer. You can likely find her at arcades, museums, tech incubators, and almost anywhere creators are designing the future.

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