Augmented Reality Apps Could Reap Big Ad Bucks
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|SPRXmobile's Layar technology, an example of an augmented reality application|
Prior to the arrival of this year's new crop of smartphones, augmented reality (AR) was primarily relegated to the realm of industrial automation, theme parks and military and academic applications.
Now that's changing. A new mass market just opened up for AR thanks to today's smartphones that come equipped with video cameras, fast processors, GPS, compasses and accelerometers -- all the tools needed to make AR work on a mobile device.
"Existing technology suppliers will have to adapt, as rapid growth will transform the augmented reality ecosystem. Today's customized, direct business-to-business AR supply chain will continue to see incremental growth in military, automotive and entertainment applications, but those businesses will be overshadowed by the mass-market dynamics of mobile handset application sales and advertising revenue streams," Joe Madden, an analyst at ABI Research, said in a statement.
While we've seen personal navigation apps for the Apple iPhone and Android handsets come out recently, the sector is slated to mature into a lucrative platform for mobile advertising, according to Madden's ABI Research study.
"Handheld platforms will transform the augmented reality ecosystem, with revenue associated with augmented reality growing from about $6 million in 2008 to more than $350 million in 2014," the report said.
In particular, it pointed to the ability for marketers to "tag" real-world objects and places with data that shows up in AR applications.
"As advertisers learn to insert tags into navigation displays, mobile advertising revenue will grow slowly, representing a large portion of sectoral revenues in the 2013-2014 timeframe," the report said.
Despite the explosive growth slated for the sector, Madden said the technology still needs to improve for mass adoption.
"GPS location accuracy is not adequate currently for many applications, requiring additional techniques to refine location precision for shopping applications, or for game applications in which virtual objects must be placed precisely on the display near corresponding real objects," he said.
He goes on to say he foresees gargantuan global databases storing vast geo-tag information submitted by individuals, governments, academics and businesses. The data will be called upon by mobile AR apps for everything from special events to landmarks to personalized places of interest.
This is already underway, as represented by companies such as Mobilizy, which just rolled out a new app that combines user-generated geo-tag content with AR.
Meanwhile, AR apps are starting to show up in increased numbers at Android Marketplace and the App Store. The Layar browser from SPRXmobile had been out for Android handset for several months, but the Layar iPhone app was just approved for the App Store.