Mobile augmented reality attracts brands

A new report from Juniper Research has found that an increasing number of leading brands, retailers and mobile vendors are investing in mobile augmented reality (AR) applications and services, with global revenues expected to approach $1.5 billion by 2015.

The report found that the installed base of AR capable smartphones had increased from 8 million in 2009 to more than 100 million in 2010, while at the same time, AR apps – initially the preserve of smaller development companies and/or researchers at technological institutes – were now increasingly created/facilitated by the larger players.

The Mobile Augmented Reality report highlighted several developments that were key in this regard: Qualcomm’s release of an AR-software development kit for Android; Samsung’s decision to preload AR browsers onto several of their handsets in selected markets; Mobile advertising campaigns from brands such as Carlsberg and Coca Cola which have featured AR elements.

According to report author Dr Windsor Holden: “One of the key benefits from this heightened activity is the fact that it generates press interest and public awareness: even if consumers don’t necessarily understand how it works, they can see real life examples of AR in action. Likewise, it serves to generate wider interest amongst brands and developers who can see potential applications for AR technology; it educates the market.”

However, the report warned that both developers and consumers had yet to be convinced that AR apps were more than “gimmicks” or offered much in the way of customer retention, given that many early deployments featured an AR element that had been added at the last minute to a pre-existing app, or else the use of AR was limited and failed to engage with the end user.