Augmented Reality takes another step with launch of “first social app”

By Chris Lee

Augmented Reality (AR) took another step towards the mobile mainstream with the “first social app” announcing it had received substantial investment this month. This market is achieving more and more attention. According to stats from mobile AR platform Trigg-AR, just under a third (30 per cent) of mobile subscribers in mature markets will use AR apps at least once a week during 2014, and an expected 2.5 billion mobile AR apps will be downloaded annually by 2017.

As NMK reported this summer, AR has been the talk of marketing and technology circles in recent years. With mobile AR technology, Qualcomm’s Julian Harris explained that a smartphone’s camera acts “as an eye to bridge the physical and digital worlds and enable experiences such as functionality unlocking, product visualisation and text recognition. Vision enablement can be used in a multitude of ways to create interactive, engaging experiences which educate and entertain the consumer and enhance the world around us.”

The future of AR apps

Dr Mike Lynch, possible best known as co-founder of software company Autonomy, is also founder of technology fund Invoke Capital, which looks for potential tech companies in which to invest. Invoke Capital’s most recent investments include two AR app firms, Neurence and Taggar, showing its faith in the growth of AR developers in a market where the Financial Times expects nine in every ten AR developers to fail.

Neurence is an intelligent recognition engine that sits in the cloud, which can handle image, audio and video data. Any device can stream information to Neurence, which then understands and recognises it. Almost instantaneously, the company says, Neurence then brings back appropriate and useful information to each device – outsourcing the processing of information to Neurence and removing the need for infrastructure on the device itself.

“We believe this is the beginning of a fundamental technology that is going to change the way we interact with information and objects,” said Lynch. “With this and Taggar, we are positioning ourselves for the advent of wearable devices, when we see the virtual and physical worlds completely meld together.”

Neurence’s recognition technology is being applied to smartphones for the first time, the company said, with the creation of the first social augmented reality app, Taggar. Using Taggar, users can create and share their own content on any object in the physical world “for the first time,” according to the company. Taggar’s social augmented reality architecture allows all new creations will be available instantly available to millions of users around the world.

“We envisage a situation where users are creating hidden worlds which they share with friends and followers and leaving secret messages that can only be revealed through Taggar,” said Charlotte Golunski, of Taggar.

Taggar is free and available through the App Store. An Android version will be available in early 2014.

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