Juniper Research has forecast that over 2.5 billion mobile augmented reality (AR) applications will be downloaded to smartphones and tablets every year by 2017. The company points out this is 3½ times the number of downloads of the Angry Birds game last year.
Augmented Reality apps combine reality with a digital overlay, usually by adding internet-based information to real-time on-screen images captured by a smartphone’s camera. For example, mapping can be enhanced by automatically identifying and labelling landmarks. In a retail environment, shops can allow consumers to ‘virtually’ try on clothing or accessories - and toys can combine a physical product with an mobile game.
Purchases made using AR apps, such as goods bought after accessing AR-enhanced advertising, are expected to become a key revenue stream for the mobile AR industry. However, the report notes that consumer awareness of the abilities of AR apps is an issue.
Charlotte Miller, the report’s author, said “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.”