Augmented Reality: New Interfaces on the Way?

By August 27, 2012

Augmented Reality is becoming ever more popular. Now specially designed eyewear may be just down the road.

Augmented Reality (AR), which is already available on smartphones and tablets, will before long be supported on other devices. The ideal thing would be to have AR on interfaces which people can use easily and naturally, such as eyewear. So far AR has been able to win over customers through the sale of gimmicky marketing applications built for smartphones. Now US-based ABI Research, a market intelligence company specialising in global technology markets, has just published research entitled ‘Emerging Applications for Mobile Device Augmented Reality’, which predicts a new, more meaningful, wave of AR applications whose drivers will include interactive print, mobile shopping, and children’s education. As regards the various possible interfaces, Google’s ‘Project Glass’ is a research and development programme to develop an Augmented Reality head-mounted display (HMD), which might mark the start of this paradigm shift. However, says ABI Research senior analyst Aapo Markkanen, it would be advisable to temper such expectations. He points out that “the issue here is that for any eyewear to enable appealing use cases it needs to have lenses that are large, light, and aesthetic”.

The Vuforia platform

Moreover, the display technology of the lenses needs to be more sophisticated than anything available today and they will also need to support constant wireless connectivity for long periods of time. “And all this needs to be delivered with a bearable battery life. It’s a circle whose squaring will take longer than five years,” predicts Aapo Markkanen. However, companies providing software platforms for the development of AR applications stand to reap large rewards from the evolution of AR. Much of the current developer interest is due to Qualcomm and its Vuforia platform but there are also a number of other players aiming to create their own. “Vuforia’s arrival in the market has pulled Augmented Reality almost single-handedly into the smartphone era,” explains ABI Research senior practice director Jeff Orr.

In-depth look at advances in AR

“While doing so, it has also prompted industry incumbents, such as Metaio and Total Immersion, to innovate further and make their software more accessible to developers. HP’s Aurasma could prove a similar catalyst for innovation, considering all the potential of its image-recognition technology,” he adds. The ABI Research Mobile Application Enabling Technologies Research Service takes an in-depth look at various technologies that enable new and transformative applications. This research involves identifying early signals of how advances in areas such as Augmented Reality, HTML5, NFC, and Voice Recognition are translating into developer activity. In addition, the report makes visionary predictions on how these enablers may reshape the industry in the future.

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