A new report has identified what its authors believe will be a considerable increase over the coming years of both the availability and take-up of augmented reality (AR) apps.

The report, from Juniper Research, claims that over the course of each forthcoming year, the number of AR apps downloaded by smartphone and tablet users will continue to increase until – by 2017 – annual AR app downloads will stand at more than 2.5bn.

AR enables owners of web-accessible mobile devices to generate moving images, and other promotional or informative data, simply by holding the devices in front of specially configured posters and other print media.

In this way – via the screen of a smartphone or tablet – what are otherwise still images can come to life while, at the same time, relevant up-to-date information can be added via the web.

AR is already making some inroads in the promotional sphere, with applications such as the downloading of music videos being made possible simply by holding a smartphone up to a specially adapted publicity poster for a band or singer.

Such an AR download could also potentially offer the smartphone user the opportunity there and then to purchase an online single or album of the artist in question.

The report however says that the pace of the growth in AR will be dependent on consumers becoming more aware of the technology – a development which will in turn, the report says, rely largely on the increased assimilation of AR into the regular mobile marketing activity of major brand names.