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Augmented Reality is the Next Big Thing

In case you haven’t heard, augmented reality applications for your smart phone and other devices are the next big thing.

augmented-reality-on-iphone

What the heck is augmented reality?

Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are merged with (or augmented by) virtual computer-generated imagery – creating a mixed reality. The augmentation is conventionally in real-time and in semantic context with environmental elements, such as sports scores on TV during a match. With the help of advanced AR technology (e.g. adding computer vision and object recognition) the information about the surrounding real world of the user becomes interactive and digitally usable. Artificial information about the environment and the objects in it can be stored and retrieved as an information layer on top of the real world view. [source]

Augmented reality applications are another reason, besides the ability to shoot video, that I really want to buy an iPhone 3GS. As my current iPhone 3G does not have a built in magnetometer which allows for the use of a “compass” and augmented reality apps. There are already a number of apps in the Apple App Store like the Layar browser, wikitude and Yelp! that are using the iPhone’s GPS and magnetometer functionality to offer augmented reality.

Rocketboom, one of my favorite video podcasts, did a recent show about augmented reality. It highlights a particularly useful app for Lodoners with AR capable iPhones stumbling home after a night of debauchery in a strange neighborhood and needing to find a tube station. It’s called Nearest Tube from acrossair.

Sounds fun right?

How big is it going to be?

A new report from Juniper Research has found that the market for mobile augmented reality (AR) services is expected to reach $732 million by 2014, with revenues derived from a combination of paid-for app downloads, subscription based services and advertising.

The Mobile Augmented Reality report found that annual revenues from AR are unlikely to exceed even $2 million during 2010, due to the fact that only a small minority of smartphones will be AR-enabled. However, this proportion will rise dramatically in the medium term, the result of increasing adoption of Android handsets and iPhones, along with greater deployment of AR enablers such as digital compasses and accelerometers by other leading vendors. [more at source]

The applications seem endless. Imagine applications that will allow you to stalk your twitter and facebook friends in real time. They’re coming. This is going to be interesting.

If you want to hunt ghosts and have an iPhone 3GS, you can snag ARGH (Augmented Reailty Ghost Hunter) for the iPhone now. You are surrounded by otherworldly entities where ever you are. Boo!

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