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Will iPad 2 lead to full-scale adoption of augmented reality?

With Apple?s new iPad 2 hitting stores soon, brands will start to leverage the front- and rear-facing camera to create more augmented reality campaigns and games to enhance relationships with consumers, per industry experts.

The new tablet, which hits stores March 11, will change the game for brands looking to develop applications. Now, companies will have the advantage of incorporating augmented reality into their initiatives with the added camera feature.

?Clearly, any mobile device that incorporates a good camera or cameras offers substantial potential from an augmented reality perspective, since augmented reality products and services are viewed through the camera viewfinder,? said said Windsor Holden, principal analyst at Juniper Research, Basingstoke, England.

?Given that these are particular strengths in the iPad 2, then naturally the device could potentially be useful in facilitating the growth of augmented reality," he said.

Mobile reality
According to Mr. Holden, companies such as Carlsberg have launched their own applications with augmented reality elements, while other brands such as Royal Mail and Coke Zero have used mobile platforms to incorporate augmented reality markers into other media which can be accessed by smartphones.

Brands such as Coca-Cola and Carlsberg are increasingly investing in mobile augmented reality and Juniper Research predicts global revenues in the space will reach $1.5 billion by 2015.

Juniper recently found that the installed base of augmented reality-capable smartphones has increased from 8 million in 2009 to more than 100 million in 2010.

The number will definitely grow with the release of the iPad 2.

?It?s still at a very early stage ? only in the past 12 months or so have we seen widespread recognition that mobile is a key means for brands to reach and engage with end users, and thus for the most part it will be experimental, toe-in-the-water usage by brands for the next year or two,? Mr. Holden said.

?From an augmented reality perspective, I see the iPad 2 primarily as a device which relies on computer vision augmented reality,? he said. ?Such as using visual markers as triggers for the mobile augmented reality experience.

?I think that this will be predominantly in the form of campaigns which have markers embedded in some other media ? that could be a magazine, in product packaging, or whatever. This could create games ? a la Carlsberg ? or augmented reality coupons, or competitions ? means whereby the relationship with the customer is enhanced.?

Augmented push
According to Lisa Murphy, product marketing manager at junaio, San Francisco, the iPad 2 will strongly promote augmented reality on mobile devices and open up the door for more use cases for brands.

With the higher performance tablets and the larger display, companies will be able to create more immersive augmented reality experiences and bring mixed reality gaming to the market.

?Currently, many of the branded augmented reality experiences we see are running from mobile augmented reality platforms, such as junaio, that are available for iPhone and Android devices,? Ms. Murphy said. ?Although great, some of these experiences can be enhanced and enriched with the larger display and duo-core processors of the tablets.?

Junaio recently worked with USA Today for the Superbowl where it created an augmented reality campaign that let consumers experience the 360-degree Dallas Cowboys stadium tour, as well as the winning game play in 3D.

?Both of these experiences will be richer on the tablets,? Ms. Murphy said. ?You will be fully immersed in the Dallas Cowboys stadium and the key game play on a larger display will allow the reader to be part of the game play. 

?This will change how digital is connected to print and allow publishers an opportunity to create immersive experiences on top of their publications,? she said.

Not for everyone
Mark Beccue, senior analyst of consumer mobility at ABI Research, Oyster Bay, NY said that the iPad 2 might not be for everyone.

According to Mr. Beccue, although the tablet is much more powerful than the first one and it is going to process better, consumers might not want to take it with them everywhere and hold up the iPad to experience a mobile augmented reality campaign.

?The problem is that an iPad, or any tablet for that matter, is really not optimal for augmented reality,? Mr. Beccue said. ?Are you going to be holding it up that much?

?I would say is that I?m not sure if you would,? he said. ?I have my doubts with whether or not any tablet is going to be a primary device for augmented reality.?

Final Take