October 05, 2012, 11:42 AM — Google-owned Motorola Mobility's acquisition of Viewdle this week, a jump in the number of visitors to the insideAR conference and Nokia's recent launch of the City Lens application all illustrate growing interest in augmented reality.
After augmented reality became over-hyped about two years ago, interest waned a bit, but recently the idea seems to have gathered traction again. Google's Project Glass, a head-mounted display that started to be tested earlier this year, gave the concept a big boost, according to Martin Herdina, CEO at augmented reality vendor Wikitude.
Augmented reality allows computer-generated content to be superimposed over a live camera view of the real world.
"What we are seeing this year is that many big brands have started to invest. The change compared to two years ago is that augmented reality isn't just a technology demo, but what is launched has a use case," Herdina said.
The implementation of the technology has also become more stable, according to Herdina.
Beyond confirming the deal, Motorola isn't commenting on how it plans to use Viewdle's computer vision technology -- one of the cornerstones of current augmented reality systems -- which can be used for face, object, and gesture recognition. But the deal shows that there is a growing interest in augmented reality, according to Daniel Gelder, vice president of marketing at augmented reality vendor Metaio, who believes that all smartphones will come with augmented reality in two years.
The growing interest was further underlined at Metaio's insideAR conference, which took place this week in Munich. The event attracted approximately 500 participants, which was twice as many as last year, Gelder said.
Speakers at the conference included Lego and IKEA. The latter has become a poster child for the use of augmented reality. Its 2013 furniture catalog comes with additional content accessible using an augment reality app, which was developed using Metaio's SDK.
Though augmented reality has been around for a long time, it's still very much a nascent market.
Chipset makers have and will continue to play an important in the evolution of the sector, as their products become increasingly optimized to help improve augmented reality performance and smartphone battery life when using it, according to Gelder.
"Technically, the best way to do [augmented reality] is to get it as close to the silicon as possible, so that you don't have to do everything at the app level, because it is hard work that uses a lot of battery and horse power," said Martin Garner, an analyst at CCS Insight.