The online auction and shopping site’s embrace of augmented reality is part of a growing trend. IKEA released a furniture shopping app that allowed users to view an image of a prospective piece of furniture in their own home (the app is not currently available). According to Perey Research & Consulting in Montreux, Switzerland there will be about 150 million to 200 million mobile augmented reality users by 2012, up from about 600,000 last year.
The use of mobile apps in retail applications in general is skyrocketing. New York-based BGC Partners LP has said its mobile shopping apps will generate as much as $2 billion in volume this year.
The iTunes store has hundreds of augmented reality apps, although some with such features did not show up in a search. I’ve personally used a few, including Around Me, Star Walk and Tank Scope. Most of the AR apps follow these themes of star gazing, environmental/tourist exploration, compass, golf distance calculators, or silly fun. Acrossair and Yelp are popular AR apps that provide informative overlays to businesses, stores, and restaurants in your immediate surroundings.