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Friday, February 18, 2011

Mobile Augmented Reality Apps Use Case Scenarios

Augmented Reality (AR) is a term used to describe a live direct or a indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input -- such as sound or graphics.

Mobile Augmented Reality -- the overlay of useful information on real-world views seen through a mobile phone's camera viewfinder -- has the potential to transform mobile marketing, online search, tourism, retail and social networking.

To date, mobile AR is being used mostly as a novelty. However, according to the latest market study by ABI Research, the key to real AR market growth is to embed AR into a wide range of mobile apps running on a variety of devices.

According to ABI senior analyst Mark Beccue, "The market for AR barely exists today -- 2010 revenue amounted to only $21 million. But if the market develops as we expect, it will generate more than $3 billion in 2016."

But market development won't fully evolve if it's limited only to dedicated AR software apps, such as early entrants Layar and Wikitude.

Mobile AR functionality and capabilities will improve rapidly and new software platforms are emerging to enable creative app developers to build AR capabilities into all types of applications.

According to ABI's assessment, this movement will rapidly advance the growth of mobile AR. But how would AR work within other apps? The following are two app use case scenarios.

Navigation -- while using a navigation app, you point the phone's camera at an interesting building. Click on a superimposed 'Info' label, and historical information appears. Retail -- you are in a big-box retailer, using the specific retailer app. Aim the phone-camera at a product, and get useful information or a 3D demonstration.

"Some say that mobile AR has the potential to become our zero-click interface to the Internet of Things, where many common objects have associated data," Beccue notes.

"There is a major opportunity here for retail. It's also likely that Apple and Google will buy or develop AR engines or platforms as development tools for third-party developers to embed AR capabilities into a broad range of apps," adds ABI practice director Neil Strother.

Other likely industry players, such as forward-looking mobile network operators, could perhaps pursue the market opportunities before Apple and Google decide to dominate the AR app developer ecosystem.