Augmented Reality (AR) is human interaction with graphics, audio, and other computer-generated sensory input that are superimposed onto the real world environment. Prior to the advent of the ARToolKit by Hirokazu Kato of the Nara Institute of Science & Technology in 1999, AR was viewed as a tool for scientists only. Since then, AR has slowly and gradually increased its influence into many spheres of our lives, with the major ones being retail, automotive, medicine, education, marketing & branding, as well as gaming.
The global revenue forecast for Augmented Reality in the consumer electronics market, according to a report by Semico is $600 billion by 2016. Moreover, the report also states that by 2014, the market for AR enabled smart phones would be just over $864 million which would increase to $1 billion by 2016. An estimated 103 million automobiles will also enjoy the perks of this technology by 2020.
With the world moving towards 3G and 4G networks, the demand for mobile internet applications is on the rise, propelling global AR growth; Forecasts show the market growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 132.2% over the period 2013-2018 from 54.3% over 2012-2016, indicating rapid infrastructure development as well as enhanced exposure as main factors.
With the camera and GPS becoming an integral part of mobile phone technology, AR technology has shown ubiquitous growth, which can be supported reports which suggest that the global market for global augmented reality dedicated devices will be worth $659.98 million by 2018.
According to ABI Research, the market for augmented reality in the US alone is worth $350 million market for 2014 and according to the “United States Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality Market Forecast & Opportunities, this market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 30% up to the year 2018.
Juniper Research estimates the mobile augmented reality apps will generate 1.4 billion downloads by next year and depicts annual revenues from mobile AR apps to grow at a five-year CAGR of 225.6% to $732 million in 2014.
AR has started revolutionizing the way we live and work. ABI Research predicts the AR market to generate $170 million in mobile AR advertising revenue, plus another $190 million in revenue from mobile applications, games and customized Augmented-Reality, by 2014.
Google Inc. (GOOGL) is leading the forefront in this disruption with its Google Glass which is set to be a major step in moving towards the augmented world. Google has the financial muscle to attempt and bring smart eyewear to the masses.
Google glass is basically a pair of “glasses” but in reality it’s an augmented reality product that allows the user to take pictures, videos, use GPS, and send messages and much more, all hands free! The user is able to see real world surroundings and use the glasses to do multiple activities during daily life.
With a launch planned in mid-2014 by Google, BI Intelligence expects annual sales to sharply rise to 21 million units by year-end 2018; taking in $500 per unit, the market opportunity comes out to about $10.5 billion annually.
Add to this, Google has also announced a VC partnership, called Google Collective, to promote applications that are available on Google Glass. This partnership has some of Silicon Valley’s top names in it.
Facebook Inc. (FB) bought Oculus VR, an augmented reality headset manufacturing company, for $2 billion earlier this year. Oculus VR had already attracted $91 million in venture funding because of its high appeal and massive following in the market.
When the original owners of Oculus VR went to Kickstarter, a crowd funding organization, to raise capital of $250,000, their goal was met in a couple of hours and they surpassed the $1 million mark in two days, indicating the level of interest in the technology. The Facebook deal is a sign of faith that augmented/virtual reality is now valuable and cheap enough to have huge potential for more than just video games which can be best put in Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s words: “This acquisition is a long-term bet on the future of computing.”
Oculus can safely be called one of the leaders in immersive virtual reality technology as it has already built strong interest among developers receiving approximately 75,000 orders for development kits for the company's virtual reality headset, the Oculus Rift.
Who Makes The Augmented Reality Software
Eon Reality Inc.
EON Reality is a leading provider of Virtual Reality software, systems and applications. It has ventured into the AR space using two products namely, EON-AR & EON-Interactive Mirror. EON-AR collects real-time data and then superimposes the relevant data in the form of interactive 3D models or 2D information in the real world providing a more immersive experience. EON Interactive Mirror has a collection of leading fashion brands which can be tried virtually, in an engaging way allowing customers to snap pictures on their mobile devices as well.
Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM) designs, develops, manufactures and markets digital communications products and services. Its Vuforia platform, a software platform that uses consistent and technically resourceful computer vision-based image recognition, provides developers with the necessary tools and freedom they need to extend their visions without technical limitations.
Daqri is an augmented reality developer that provides custom software and creative solutions to clients around the globe pertaining to a broad spectrum of industries helping businesses leverage the latest innovations in computer-human interaction.
Augmented Reality technology promises to revolutionize the world with its virtually unlimited potential - no pun intended - and the involvement of juggernauts like Facebook and Google is also a positive development for the industry. Both these companies have extensive research and development facilities, which can aid in the progress of the augmented reality industry.