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Explore the Primary Enablers of Augmented Reality

What does the future hold for the Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) investment banking sectors in 2013? One thing is certain, this year will include several significant events that we can forecast and yet others that will be somewhat unpredictable.

We can expect to see both progress and setbacks as these evolutionary market shifts and changes unfold in the weeks and months to come. This is the first of several forward-looking updates about those market transitions.

ABI Research says that we should watch for Augmented Reality (AR) to continue its progress through evolved smartphone platforms -- not only via new purpose-built eyewear.

Prior announcements about consumer eyewear gadgets -- including Google Project Glass and Vuzix Smart Glasses M100 -- has led some market observers to speculate that 2013 might be the year when AR finally becomes more than a mere gimmick.

That level of development would equate to a long and arduous journey of exploration. AR will likely continue to progress toward its elusive goal of enhancing human perspectives, but it should occur first in smartphones -- and then, to a lesser extent, within media tablets.

ABI Research says its educated guess is that about 95 percent of the mobile AR apps that were installed in 2012 were opened only once or twice and a good user-retention milestone would be to lift that rate closer to 90 percent during the course of 2013.

Within two years, AR should reach a level where we start to see more than a few consumer apps that are marketed, and downloaded, because they create useful and compelling experiences -- and not just because of the novelty factor.

More robust image-recognition technologies and cloud-based image libraries will be the primary enablers for this stage of the journey and, in terms of devices, it will still be driven mainly by smartphone design enhancement.

Within five years, utility-like AR apps should be commonplace and AR-based social scavenger hunts will be an emerging form of gaming and entertainment. Eyewear will have gained some market traction, but that will be mainly in the business-to-business (B2B) domain -- where the cost of the device is less an issue.

That is not to say that consumer eyewear products -- especially when paired with smartphones -- will not be reality by then. At this stage of the evolutionary process, it will be mostly about enabling AR.

ABI Research says that the Internet of Things (IoT) will advance AR, and vice versa.

Within ten years, we will be on the verge of a paradigm shift in personal computing and mobile device UI design. There will still be the usual clicks, taps, and swipes on mobile devices. In addition, visual and aural AR has now become a common user interface enhancement.

Mobile apps will be able to utilize the vast amounts of data that are being fed from an ever-growing network of IP-enabled sensors and ingest it within cloud-based analytics software that will extract meaning from all that raw information.

This will result in a high level of contextual awareness, which will be crucial in preventing the information overload that could otherwise undermine the adoption of AR in the marketplace.

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