Metaio, ST-Ericsson team-up for first augmented reality chipset

FRANKFURT Thu Feb 21, 2013 5:19pm EST

FRANKFURT Feb 21 (Reuters) - Germany's Metaio has created the world's first augmented reality (AR) chipset for smartphones, which will be integrated by ST-Ericsson onto its platforms, the two companies said on Thursday.

AR overlays text, graphics and sound on images viewed on smartphone or tablet screens, on PCs or through dedicated glasses, which has been a feature of science fiction books and movies for decades.

The boom in smartphones which have location capabilities and cameras has enabled people to try out the technology for themselves.

Sweden's Ikea, famed for its low-price flat-pack furniture, for instance has an app that lets people point a camera at a spot in a room and overlays an image of the furniture customers are thinking of buying.

Still the industry, which is predicted to reach $1.5 billion in sales by 2015, has been waiting for the incorporation of technology into devices, meaning users will not have to download separate software.

Munich-based Metaio said it was the first to move AR features into hardware, which will make them faster to use for consumers and could boost take-up of the new technology.

"This collaboration will improve nearly all aspects of an Augmented Reality experience, yielding performance increases in speed, precision and power consumption," Metaio and ST-Ericsson, said in a statement.

The technology makes smartphones more energy-efficient and up to 60 times faster than AR running on existing platforms, they said. (Reporting by Harro ten Wolde; editing by Andrew Hayb)

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