If Google is getting credit for giving the augmented-reality field a PR boost, Qualcomm should get credit for helping to build it by investing is companies like Viewdle and the development of its Vuforia SDK. The company also offers FastCV (Computer Vision), a product that allows developers to access hardware-accelerated functionality on Snapdragon processors to improve performance.
Just like other vendors, Qualcomm is seeing adoption of augmented reality accelerating.
"Multiple Vuforia-based applications have passed the one million download mark, and that is really significant," said Jay Wright, who is responsible for developing and driving Qualcomm's augmented reality commercialization strategy.
More than 1,800 commercial applications for Android and iOS have been built using Vuforia, a software development platform that allows developers to build augmented reality apps. The bulk of those apps are being used by large consumer brands that are using Vuforia functionality to complement physical products and advertising, according to Wright.
For example, Vuforia apps can allow consumers to view paper advertisements through smartphones, which then display additional content superimposed on the ads.
"What is driving this is when it comes to mobile, traditional display advertising is certainly not working like it did on the desktop," Wright said. "So brands are realizing the way to engage with consumers is through apps, and they want to do everything they can to make those apps more compelling."
Today, users experience augmented reality by downloading a mix of different apps. But that may change if vendors integrate augmented reality functionality into their smartphone OSes, according to Wright.
"I think that's possible -- the operating system providers also do some of their own first-party applications. Google and Apple certainly do that, and I think its foreseeable that one of them or someone else like Microsoft adds an augmented reality app and/or APIs to the OS," Wright said.
Nokia is taking a step in that direction by preinstalling the City Lens augmented reality application on its upcoming Windows Phone 8-based smartphones, Lumia 820 and Lumia 920. It is already available for existing phones.
Wright sees Nokia's City Lens launch as a validation of the augmented reality market.
But when OS vendors themselves incorporate augmented reality functions into OSes, third-party developers will become even more confident when writing apps, Garner said.
Herdina and Gelder both think that more large vendors will start getting interested.
"I truly believe this is just the starting point, and the easiest way for corporations to enter this field is through acquisitions," said Gelder.