According to a new report by marketing consultancy Tractica, the proliferation of smartphones and tablets with fast processing capabilities, as well as sensors and soon 3D cameras, will provide an ideal medium for people to experience augmented reality (AR).

Coupled with the fact that the creation of AR content has become easier thanks to simple tools for developers, this means the growth in annual downloads of mobile AR apps will hit 1.2 billion worldwide by 2019, up from 272 million downloads in 2014, Tractica predicts.

The installed base of actively used mobile AR apps will rise from 135 million in 2014 to 2.2 billion by 2019, creating a market of $1.6 billion for AR apps by the latter date, the report notes.

“Mobile augmented reality is beginning to shake off the reputation of being gimmicky, a perception that has dogged the industry for the last few years,” said analyst Craig Foster.

“One of the most notable trends is product visualisation, where users are able to view how items will look in their homes without having to visit a physical location or commit to a purchase when not quite certain,” he added.

Foster believes gaming and entertainment will drive the highest volumes of app downloads, although retail, e-commerce, and product visualisation as well as education and toys will actually generate higher usage rates of mobile AR apps.