Before many of us experienced augmented reality (AR) on our phone, manufacturers are poised to release the next-gen. Chip designer ARM is the main driving force behind the latest in AR. Their goal is to use all the available processing power our devices can muster. The new augmented reality can scan 3D environments using a phone's camera. In real-time, it can produce an image that is animated or even descriptive.
For instance, you are looking for a new office for your business. Walking around outside using this feature you may be able to see possible buildings that have offices available for rent or possibly get a preview of what the architectural office layout looks like. This would all be made possible by the camera on your phone scanning the environment and producing a desired picture of the environment with descriptive information. Additionally, it may be used for recreational purposes, such as augmented reality games or educational purposes such as providing historic feedback on relevant locations.
However, this technology is still in its infancy as developers are still testing and designing the applications. Furthermore, the battery is drained rather quickly using all the processing power to scan the 3D environment. The latest mobile gadget, theSony's PS Vita, has a feature similar to the proposed AR, However, it only projects a sprite or animated picture onto the environment, where as this feature would use the environment and display a new augmented reality picture of your surroundings. AR is in need of an improvement, and ARM is setting the groundwork.
(Left) ARM AR goals (Right) Value Chain, how content is produced (via ARM)
ABI Research claims that the AR market size of 2010 was near $21 million USD, and will be at $3 billion by 2016. With that in mind, ARM releases the Mali GPU series. The latest being the Mali-T658. Aside from handling the every growing video and gaming demands of users, the Mali series attempts to handle battery consumption on a next-gen level as well. Placing AR elements in a spacial sense for real time video can be a serious burden on the system. The GPU will take the burden off of the main CPU, accomplish the tasks better, at the same time saving power. ARM's CPU and Mali ecosystem has the ability to handle what is to come, and they hope developers will hop on board.
ARM partner Metaio claims that the next-gen AR will be in every Smartphone by 2014, as well as grow to be a $715 million USD industry. Of course, Metaio is trying to push their AR developing environment "junai Creator" along with the statement. Metaio released the following video explaining the new type of AR they are pushing at the insideAR conference.
Metaio provides the middleware and presentation of content, now they need developers. See more about ARM in the element14 ARM Developers Group.