Augmented Reality Growth Surges

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The growth of augmented reality (AR) based applications in the mobile space is set to continue through the current year, according to research from mobile analysts Juniper Research.

Word comes from the Inquirer that downloads to mobile devices from services like Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market that boast augmented reality-styled content currently number under a million, but are expected to rise to as much as 400 million by the year 2014. It’s a fairly staggering amount of growth, but there’s already some solid evidence that it’ll come through.

Public interest in augmented reality has been on the rise, with the launch of popular mobile apps like Layar helping to thrust the previously niche technology into the spotlight a little more than it might otherwise have been. Indeed, the ability to overlay data onto images streamed from a camera is something that seems to have captured people’s imaginations, even if some of the AR apps available at the moment don’t quite perform as well as some would hope.

We’ll be curious to see just what state AR technology itself ends up in by 2014. The fact is that holding a phone’s camera up and seeing where the nearest Subway is through all other buildings, while a wonderful thing, isn’t actually all that useful. We’ll be more curious to see just what developers making AR apps at the moment expand into, and from there, what kind of uses people find for the technology.

Still, it seems as though the future is bright for a technology that was unnervingly accurately described by William Gibson’s Virtual Light… hard not to wonder if there’s quite as much science fiction drama in augmented reality’s real future.

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