By John Levett, Juniper Research

A new report from Juniper Research has found that the increasing focus on incorporating augmented reality (AR) elements within mobile applications will lead to nearly 1.4 billion annual downloads of such apps worldwide by 2015, up from just over 11 million last year.

The new Mobile Augmented Reality report found that the number of AR capable apps on offer had already risen dramatically, while the breadth of products available had widened significantly from the initial wave of location-based search apps and browsers, to cover games, social networking, education, lifestyle and personal healthcare apps. These developments have been accompanied by the surge in the installed base of AR capable smartphones.

In addition, the report noted that brand interest in, and awareness of, AR rose dramatically over the latter half of 2010, with a number of leading brands either creating apps with AR content or else utilising existing mobile AR apps to enable end users to access the AR elements of advertising campaigns.

According to report author Dr Windsor Holden, “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. These initiatives are indicative of a growing desire amongst brands to use AR as a key tool to engage with the consumer.”

Other key findings of the Mobile Augmented Reality report include:

• Annual revenues generated by mobile AR applications and services are expected to approach $1.5 billion by 2015, up from less than $2 million in 2010.

• Enterprise apps with AR elements are expected to account for the third-largest proportion of revenues by 2015, after location-based search and games.

• 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 White Paper and Video Whitepaper are available on the Juniper website together with further details of the study Mobile Augmented Reality: Opportunities, Forecasts & Strategic Analysis 2011-2015.

Juniper Research provides research and analytical services to the global hi-tech communications sector, providing consultancy, analyst reports and industry commentary.