TechWatch Report: Augmented Reality for Smartphones

Not so long ago, augmented reality (AR) was an experimental technology that rarely left the lab and required a high level of technical expertise and knowledge to create new applications.  Now, thanks to advances in smartphone hardware, AR technology is much more available and easily accessible for users and developers alike.

A new state-of-the-art TechWatch report looking at Augmented Reality for Smartphones is now available for comment:
Augmented Reality for Smartphones (PDF).

The report was commissioned by UKOLN for the JISC Observatory and written by Ben Butchart from EDINA, based at the University of Edinburgh.

It is primarily aimed at developers and content publishers who want to take advantage of the latest developments in smartphone and augmented reality (AR) technology to create novel and exciting new learning experiences. With several innovative young companies offering out the box AR “browsers” and tools for creating, publishing and hosting virtual content, it is even possible to create augmented reality experiences without any programming knowledge at all.   Many new applications and frameworks have been launched, each with its own set of capabilities and requiring different levels of technical knowledge to publish content and customize the interface.  This new report will help readers navigate the emerging landscape and pick out the best tools and platforms for their needs.

This report has already been peer reviewed by experts in this field. However the review process for this report also includes time for user-review of the document prior to formal publication and so we would welcome any additional comments readers have. Please post any comments you have in response to this post and they will be considered before the final version is released.

Comments will be open till Friday 6th May 2011. After that the final version of the report will be released.

This entry was posted in TechWatch Report and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to TechWatch Report: Augmented Reality for Smartphones

  1. Pingback: JISC Observatory Augmented Reality Report « Geo-Mobile Blog

  2. Martin Adam says:

    Very interesting workpiece. Congratulation for a really good overview over the browser scene. Some points from me: Wikitude isn’t from Germany but from Austria. Hoppala already supports Layar, Wikitude and Junaio. ScanSearch is a browser you should look at.

  3. Marc says:

    Thanks for putting this together!

    Just one note: Hoppala Augmentation added support for Junaio and Wikitude browsers on top of original Layar support this spring, thus became the only cross-browser content platform in mobile ar:


  4. Peter Meijer says:

    I would welcome at least some comments on augmented reality glasses, e.g. in the Concluding Remarks section for the future outlook. The lack of convenient, affordable and unobtrusive AR glasses is IMO a main reason why interest in augmented reality may fall off for a while (holding out a smartphone in front of you is inconvenient and utterly unsuitable for continuous “streaming” use). AR glasses will likely also have implications for how AR content will be represented in order to limit interference with normal vision.

  5. Martin Adam says:

    @marc You shouldn’t say that. mCRUMBS runs a b2b AR platform with four browser interfaces (Layar, Junaio, Wikitude and Acrossair) for one and a half years. Also Aloqa and Google Maps are implemented. More than 60 channels running on this server. It’s not open to public, because we do individual consulting on top of it. Take care you are giving the right information.

  6. Roy Ashok says:

    This is a very comprehensive report, but does not mention a major AR solution – The Qualcomm AR (QCAR) Platform available for free at

    The platform offers the QCAR SDK, which is a computer vision based solution for the Android OS that can detect and track natural feature images (otherwise known as markerless), a special type of marker called Frame Markers and simple 3D objects (like cubes). It also offers an advanced real world interaction method called – Virtual buttons, which are actual developer defined regions on an image that when physically pressed (or occluded) generate a “button press” event. Lastly, the beta SDK has been made widely available to developers free of charge. The platform was announced in June 2010 and has been in a public beta since October 2010 with a commercial release scheduled for Q2 of this year. Today, there are more than 6000 developers working with the SDK.

    Developer Challenge
    To jump start the AR developer ecosystem, Qualcomm ran a $200,000 developer challenge that attracted more than 50 entries from 22 countries. The winners of the challenge can be found at,

    Please contact me directly if you need more information.

  7. Phil Wilson says:


    It would be good to have mention, at least in passing, of the Nintendo 3DS and its augmented reality capabilities.

    For example and

  8. Whilst I agree that the report is very well presented and informed I didn’t see a great deal of commercial information in there. Developers and content publishers have a strong interest in this technology for sure but I’d be more interested in it’s commercial applications because I’d imagine that this is the only way enough money will be invested in the technology to drive it to new levels of innovation. Also, I’d be interested to know why you think that AR will peak and then tail off for a while in 2011? I’d say interest and investment in AR is about 5 years away from its peak.

    My Pet Project: Risk Jobs

  9. Pingback: Simple Augmented Reality with Aurasma « Steve Boneham's blog

  10. Pingback: Final Release of TechWatch Report: AR for Smartphones |

  11. RobAid says:

    Well, how about google glass and other similar projects available only a year after you wrote this post?