Games – and beer ads – set to boost augmented reality

Mobile augmented reality is set to rocket over the next four years, according to analyst Juniper Research.

The company reckons the number of mobile app downloads will rise from 2010’s relatively modest figure of 11 million to a whacking 1.4 billion by 2015.

The first such apps to hit the market have mainly been location-based search apps and browsers. But increasingly, says Juniper, more imaginative applications are appearing, such as games, social networking, education, lifestyle and personal healthcare apps.

But, guess what – it’s advertisers who are set to get the most from AR, says Juniper, with many leading brands either creating their own AR apps or else using existing mobile AR apps to encourage end users to access the AR elements of advertising campaigns.

“High-profile companies such as Carlsberg are integrating branded AR apps into wider campaigns, while  others – Time Out, Royal Mail, Coca Cola – are using B2C applications such as junaio to facilitate AR content,” says report author Dr Windsor Holden.

“These initiatives are indicative of a growing desire amongst brands to use AR as a key tool to engage with the consumer.”

As a result, Juniper says it expects annual revenues generated by mobile AR applications and services to approach $1.5 billion by 2015, up from less than $2 million in 2010.

While location-based search will represent the greatest chunk of this, games will become more widespread, as will enterprise apps with AR elements.

And Juniper warns that governments and mobile content regulators may need to revise or update existing regulations pertaining to privacy, libel and copyright to take AR applications into account.

The Mobile Augmented Reality report is here.