Google Glass set to become a vital business tool, a billion augmented reality users predicted by 2020

Augmented reality devices, such as Google Glass, and augmented reality media on other devices, such as smartphones and tablets, is likely to become an important business tool, according to a number of leading analysts.

Augmented reality is where an electronic device overlays computer graphics and text over a real-life image in real time.

Aside from Google Glass and similar devices currently in development by major consumer electronics firms, augmented reality also includes smartphone and tablet apps that overlays information over real-time footage from a camera.

“Augmented reality is the real-time use of information in the form of text, graphics, audio and other virtual enhancements integrated with real-world objects,” Gartner principal research analyst Tuong Huy Nguyen says.

In a statement, Gartner points out that augmented reality has useful applications such as overlaying temperature information, highlighting objects of interest, instructional materials and providing additional information (such as height or distance data).

“For example, firefighters can use AR to find out ambient temperature or a building layout so they know exits, and potentially dangerous areas,” Gartner states.

“These technologies together provide various benefits to using AR as an internal tool. This includes enhancing current business process, facilitating and optimizing the use of current technologies, and providing business innovation.”

Also bullish about the future of augmented reality is former Nokia executive and mobile industry analyst Tomi Ahonen, who has boldly predicted 1 billion augmented reality users worldwide by 2020.

“Juniper Research is the first analyst house to release into the public domain a count of global users of AR. They announced in November that the world has 60 million AR users at the end of 2013. 60 million might not sound like much. Remember, AR is primarily a media type accessible to smartphone users, not all mobile phone users.

“60 million AR users means 4% of all smartphone users globally are already using AR. That, my friends, is a huge number. AR is not on par with the growth rate of mobile media. AR is ahead of where mobile media was four years in.

“The first global number for AR revenues was also released late last year. Research and Markets found the AR global revenues for 2013 to be almost half a billion dollars. They counted 496 million dollars in October 2013 for the full year.

“If we use those two separate studies we get a preliminary ARPU number too. The annual average revenue of the AR industry per user is $US8.27 so the monthly ARPU is US67 cents per active user. This is vastly ahead of the early mobile media revenue and ARPU levels.”

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