Augmented reality apps market challenges and opportunities

Augmented reality apps market poses several challenges and offers opportunities. ABI Research forecasts that developers’ investment in Augmented Reality applications will touch $2.5 billion in 2018 from around $670 million in 2013.

Earlier Juniper Research estimated that there will be a total of almost 70 million smart wearable devices sold in 2017, including smart glasses, health and fitness devices along with enterprise wearables, compared to almost 15 million sales in 2013.

But all market intelligence agencies are not predicting bright future for the Augmented Reality market.

Last month, Frost & Sullivan said there may be some product releases this year, but it won’t really be until late 2014 that the whole package around these glasses starts to come into effect. Such products have an evolution cycle which varies a lot, based on the regions, culture and economy.

Though these products are expected in India with great interest, there may not be a huge impact for at least another 4-5 years. The primary hurdle for such products to be adopted in large scale within a short span is mainly cost and security concerns.

ABI Research, which is confident of a better growth for Augmented Reality products, says AR will become a vital part of mobile experience, especially in the domain of retail and marketing.

This application segment accounts for 68 percent of the developer spend in 2013, with product enhancement and standalone apps contributing 22 percent and 10 percent of the total, respectively.

One of the growth drivers for AR is cloud computing as cloud is a natural fit for AR developers. Cloud-based content libraries offer benefits to image recognition technologies.

Juniper Research earlier said adoption of these smart devices will be driven by the launch of augmented reality glasses and similar products from Google, Microsoft and Apple.

Leading SDKs — Qualcomm’s Vuforia and Metaio — have launched cloud recognition capabilities last year.

Meanwhile, Aurasma — HP’s visual browser on cloud — will see traction as a platform for third-party apps.

ABI Research expects smart eyewear to initially make more waves in transforming the enterprise. Google Glass, like the smart-glass pioneer Vuzix, will find various use cases in verticals such as engineering, logistics, and healthcare.

AR has the potential to become a significant enabler for the Internet of Everything, and namely big-data analytics. This is an area where AR and data visualizations will have a close connection to the emergent wearable computing products. It can serve as a visualization medium that will make the sensor data situational, bridged to the real-world surroundings.

But Frost & Sullivan says Google Glass or Apple iGlass may look promising in the marketing hype that’s building, but the reality of the service behind them could be disappointing for some time if customers are expecting streamed videos, adverts in stores that come alive on their screens and the other sci-fi style apps that people dreaming up today.

Baburajan K
editor@telecomlead.com