Augmented Reality (AR) as a technology has existed for more than 15 years, with tailored applications in industrial automation, theme parks, sports television, military displays, and online marketing (AIB, 2009). Forrester research defined AR as; The concept of AR simply put is the overlay of virtual or artificial information either in the form of visuals, graphics, or text onto a medium, which is then projected over an actual image stream. This additional information can then be augmented to the user either by using a wearable display setup or through a fixed location setup.
The next stage of internet engagement is going to be its connection with physical space. AR will be an important tool in this evolution. Based on a Total Immersions definition, there are 3 types of AR; Web-based AR, Kiosk-based AR and mobile AR. Web-based AR uses PC and webcam with a marker, image or through motion capture. It is the most common type of AR since it runs on Flash and does not require a plug-in or any kind of download. It is also the most economical option and can be easily integrated with social platforms. However, users need to have a webcam in order to use it.
Kiosk based AR is capable of running more powerful AR applications using 3D or facial tracking. It can leverage multiple platforms and can reach broader users through out-of-home or point-of-purchase marketing. Also, the user does not need a marker or a webcam for using it. However, it is relatively more expensive. Mobile AR uses the viewfinder to show the digital information in user’s surroundings. Mobile AR can leverage location and, with smartphone adoption rising, its potential reach is increasing. However, mobile is a fragmented environment, since some smartphones run on different platforms, such as iOS and Android, and the battery life of a smartphone can be an obstacle. Additionally, hype around this type of AR is hard to control. (Adage, 2011)
According to Gartner Inc, AR is one of the top 10 strategic IT technologies and is expected to be a $1.5 Bn industry by 2015 . However, viability of reaching this number is much debated. According to some experts this number will be reachable since AR can be applicable to many industries and has various use cases. On the other hand, some experts argue that this number is not realistic since AR will take time to reach mainstream adaption.