A new report from Juniper Research predicts that mobile augmented reality (AR) apps could reach over 2.5bn downloads per year by 2017 as consumer awareness improves and apps for retail and entertainment drive adoption.
AR apps let users take an alternative look at the world around them through their mobile device’s camera enhanced with a digital overlay. Retailers could use these to let customers virtually try on an item of clothing in-store or find out more about a product simply by pointing their phone at it. Some developers, like WowWee, combine physical toys with games on smartphones and tablets using AR, and Juniper predicts an increasing number of these apps to come.
If AR apps can be enabled to allow users to make purchases after viewing AR advertising content, this could become a key revenue stream for the mobile AR industry.
However, an increase in consumer awareness of what AR is and what it is capable of is required if AR apps want to reach critical mass and reach their target demographics.
“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,” said Charlotte Miller, author of the report ‘Mobile Augmented Reality’. “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.”