Here are some predictions for XAI, AR and VR technologies in the year ahead, that will boost distance and remote work/learning.

What advances can we expect of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) next year?

ABI Research has been around since 1990 partnering with government agencies and technology brands, providing strategic guidance.

According to a senior advisor for Data & AI, UnionBank of the Philippines, AI technology is helping to make it improbable for cybercriminals to pierce through multiple layers of defenses.

This is aimed at ensuring continuity, confidentiality, and integrity in financial services. Also, the technology gives financial institutions a deeper understanding of customers and can boost the quality of physical channels and the human touch when interacting with them.

AI with 5G will be more flexible

As 5G makes inroads in 2021, there will be a corresponding increase in high-throughput and massive IoT connectivity that will complement the on-device inferencing capabilities of AI. According to Lion Jye Su, Principal Analyst for ABI: “5G-enabled edge AI devices will have the flexibility to centralize all their workloads in the cloud or perform time-, latency-, and security-sensitive workloads at the edge. This removes data privacy, safety, and security concerns, while allowing the overall system to update and optimize itself. Expect major webscalers and chipset suppliers to align their products and solutions in 2021 to address demand for more distributed intelligence across both the consumer and the enterprise markets.”

If AI bias is a concern, the role of Explainable AI (XAI) may be useful in 2021. XAI is AI that reveals the methods (in human language) by which any solution was derived. Its antithesis is machine learning, whereby even designers cannot come up with an explanation as to how an AI arrives at a result. Explain Su: “Deep learning-based AI remains a black box. Although cloud AI players, such as Google, H2O and Element AI have offered development tools and frameworks around explainable AI, AI built based on these solutions is not mature enough for mass commercialization.

“At the moment, most AI models are not designed for transparency, let alone explainability. Hence, do not expect explainable AI to become mainstream in 2021. Also, do not expect massive migration or switching either, because switching away from non-transparent deep learning models may not be an option for many companies.”

AR yes, VR no

For the few who are uninitiated, we need to clarify the difference between AR and VR. As the term ‘augmented’ implies, it involves a real-life view seen through a camera or smartphone, which is then augmented by three-dimensional or other visuals. Virtual Reality, on the other hand, is usually made to work with a headset, which projects a computer-simulated alternate reality within the viewing panel. 

ABI Research Director Eric Abbruzzese expects that in 2021, “the risks of traveling and the experience from the first months of the COVID-19 outbreak will drive demand for proactive solutions that increase employee and business efficiency and ensure employee safety. So, AR software/platform providers will include more features and new strategic collaborations to support, automate, and simplify large-scale deployments while providing more data and analytics tools for proactive decisions.”

He added that the total AR market, including content and usage on mobile devices, will be strong. Industries such as Media & Entertainment, and Retail & Commerce, will lead in terms of growth and adoption rates due to the establishment of ‘at home entertainment’ and the rise of online shopping.

“Retailers will continually introduce AR capabilities, such as AR product preview/visualization or virtual try-on, into their online platforms to enhance online shopping experiences, maintain sales during the pandemic, and remain competitive.”

Another ABI research analyst, Eleftheria Kouri, does not see VR reaching the mainstream market: “Growth will be strong in 2021, but the user base will not reach the levels once thought probable where VR competes for usage time with TVs, smartphones, and traditional displays. Price and availability of valuable content remain primary barriers.”