Augmented reality becomes reality


Over 2.5 billion mobile augmented reality apps to be installed per annum by 2017

By 2017 over 2.5 billion mobile augmented reality (AR) apps will be downloaded to smartphones and tablets per annum. This represents 3.5 times the number of downloads achieved by Angry Birds in 2011, according to new research.

AR apps combine reality with a digital overlay allowing, for instance, consumers to virtually try on glasses or items of clothing using their mobile phone. Retail is an area that is set to drive the growing adoption of AR apps, said Juniper Research; usage of AR in the retail area can enable retailers to bring an internet-like experience into their stores, allowing consumers to see more information on a product simply by pointing their camera at it.

However, this is only possible if AR apps can recognise large numbers of items as retailers will typically have thousands or even tens of thousands of items in stock, the research firm warned. With image recognition transferred to the cloud, the number of images that can be identified will increase dramatically enabling retail brands to develop apps for use in-store. Usage by entertainment brands will also drive usage by driving consumers to download AR apps and try them out with products that they are familiar with.

Juniper stated that while tech-aware consumers may already know what mobile augmented reality is and what can be done with it, the average consumer does not. Without an increase in consumer awareness, it will be difficult for the mobile augmented reality industry to reach critical mass and without critical mass, many AR apps will not be able to find the size of audience they need to break even and advertisers may find that they are unable to reach their target demographic, stated report author. Charlotte Miller.

Miller added: 'Familiarising the average consumer with the concept of AR and what it can do for them can only come from its use in everyday situations. Adding AR to a magazine and encouraging readers to download and try it is a great way of educating consumers about what AR can offer them but we won't see an explosion in user numbers until major retail brands embrace and adopt AR in their own apps.'

Juniper also found that purchases made using AR apps, such as physical goods purchased after accessing AR advertising content, is to become a key revenue stream for the mobile AR industry.

Millar said we will also see an increasing number of playsets, such as those produced by WowWee, which combine physical toys with a game on a smartphone or tablet.


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