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Mobile augmented reality is overhyped technology for now: Forrester

A new research report by Forrester Research claims that augmented reality is way more than just a gimmick. However, mobile augmented reality is not delivering its promise ? yet.

According to Forrester, mobile augmented reality is not yet fully baked. The research firm said marketers and product strategists should be cautious when integrating augmented reality into their mobile strategy in 2011.

?Mobile augmented reality is an overhyped technology today but will be a disruptive one in the years to come,? said Thomas Husson, senior analyst at Forrester Research, Boston.

?There are a limited number of consumers regularly and actively holding up their smartphone to interact with their environment,? he said. ?With the entire buzz around the likes of Layar and numerous campaigns, one could have expected higher consumer adoption.?

Augmented reality?s role today 
Forrester?s research points out that augmented reality is not something new. The technology has been used on PCs and is now being moved into marketing on mobile devices.

The reality is that today big brands with large budgets are trying it out with the hopes of getting the ?wow? effect.

Augmented reality requires object recognition and computerization on the mobile device as well as 3D rendering to superimpose images on the real world.

Currently, companies such as Metaio and Total Immersion really master this technology.

The information displayed must be accurate and delivered in a seamless way.

Not delivering, but?
According to Mr. Husson, mobile augmented reality applications are not delivering.

There are more significant short-term opportunities to tap into with Web-based and kiosk-based augmented reality solutions and there is great potential for the technology in ecommerce. 

However, Forrester believes consumer product strategists should not dismiss the technology. On the contrary, it is likely to trigger disruption in the years to come and to open up new opportunities.

?There are a number of factors [that will drive the growth of augmented reality],? Mr. Husson said. ?Firstly, is the fact that device computing capabilities are improving dramatically.

?Secondly, the availability of mass-market connectivity and the synergies with other technologies such as visual search, bar codes and NFC, that enable customers to interact with the physical world around them,? he said.

The future is clear
In the years to come mobile augmented reality will change the way consumers interact with their environments.

Forrester claims it will bridge the real and digital worlds, enabling new ways to engage with customers via advanced digital interactivity.

Additionally, because it takes advantage of the most unique mobile attributes, mobile augmented reality will help in transforming devices into remote controls that give people control of their daily lives.

In 2011, expect innovation and interest from handset manufacturers, online and social media players, and location-based networks such as Foursquare.

?Mobile augmented reality is particularly well-suited for one-off events and large venues, allowing you to stand out in crowded exhibitions, deliver value-added services to delegates, and offer them the opportunity to engage with your product and solutions,? Mr. Husson said. ?Expect Mobile World Congress 2011 to be the place to watch to be a showcase for this approach.

?However, to deliver real consumer benefits the information displayed must be ultra-accurate and delivered in a perfectly seamless way,? he said. ?This will be difficult to achieve and the technology won?t scale in 2011.

?From an industry and supply-side perspective, I expect many moves from blue-chip companies: Nokia should integrate Point and Find into OVI Maps and has an interest in leveraging the technology in its user-interface in the mid to long term. Facebook, Google and others will also be interested in how to facilitate the discovery and understanding of information via mobile augmented reality.?