Mobile AR technology is the newest craze and app developers are jumping at the chance to tap the cash cow.

The revenue base for augmented reality enabled smartphones jumped from eight million in 2009 to over a hundred million in 2010. When we see the final numbers from 2011, they should be even higher. Mobile AR technology is the newest craze and app developers are jumping at the chance to tap the cash cow. (One of them being a little AR development house based in Manchester called goAugmented)

In fact, analysts say the overall revenue generated by augmented reality on smartphones could exceed $1.5 billion by 2015. Certain practical applications like innovative cameras, accelerometers, and compasses are beginning to prove that AR is more than just a mobile fad and is actually a sound industry that is here to stay. Like online utilities such asAnywho.com, augmented reality apps combine advanced technology with practicality.

Here are some top-notch AR apps for your smartphone:

Google Sky Map
This Android app will appeal to stargazers and astronomers of all varieties. Simply point your phone at the sky and identify a legion of constellations, stars and planets. If you move the camera around, the information will change in accordance with the coordinates. Excellent for recreational or educational use, Google Sky Map is a simple application of augmented reality used for complex tracking purposes. People used to get paid annual salaries to do what this app can do in seconds.

Layar
Android’s original AR app allows you to scan the public streets for vital information, entertainment news, or networking possibilities. The program essentially ‘layers’ information about the landmarks and businesses on a particular street.

Car Finder
This AR app for iPhone uses Apple’s GPS compass to tell you where you parked your car. If you’ve ever been in a parking garage at 5 PM ready to go home but unable to find your car, this app should lend some clarity. Again, simple but incredibly useful. (This app’s existence is funny as goAugmented were making the same AR application for mobile phones – and had to stop when they were pipped to the post… I wrote a blog about it.)

Yelp
Walk through a new neighborhood and find out about every restaurant and business simply by waving your phone around. Like Layars in many ways, Yelp’s stab at augmented reality combines place-based messaging, social media, and advanced GPS technology to create a mobile consumer atlas.

Wikitude
Essentially upping the ante on Quick Response codes, Wikipedia’s AR app lets you bring up wikipedia entries on an object or landmark simply by point your phone at it. For example, if you walked by a famous building and wanted to know when it was built, you could point your phone at it and find out the answer within seconds without needing an Internet connection.

The technology behind augmented reality will evolve exponentially over the next few years. By the midpoint of the decade, AR apps will be a multi-billion dollar industry. Smartphone manufacturers and users are already struggling to catch up.

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