By 2015, it is estimated that 2.5 billion augmented reality applications will be downloaded annually, generating more than $1.5 billion in revenue.

I was talking about this maturing technology with David DeWolf, CEO at 3Pillar Global, which builds applications for companies like CARFAX and PBS. 3Pillar created an interesting augmented reality app for the Ballston Business Improvement District that let attendees at the Taste of Arlington event pose for pictures with virtual versions of DC sports celebrities--John Wall from the Washington Wizards, Alex Ovechkin from the Washington Capitals, and Chris Pontius of DC United. This approach was a great way to promote the event while it was going on and allowed the experience to live long after the attendees had gone home.

David shared with me three other innovative ways augmented reality is supporting the customer experience and changing our expected interactions with our physical environment.

Supporting the Purchase of Physical Products

If your company sells a physical product, especially furniture or a decorative item, one of the greatest barriers to conversion is the customer's ability to visualize how the product will look in their home or office.

IKEA has addressed this problem through their 2014 catalog application, which allows users to superimpose products right from the catalog to the precise area of their home/office where they would like to position the item. Customers can experience the look and feel of the product inside their home without spending a dime or even visiting an IKEA store.

Engaging Customers in Novel Ways

Turning your customers into long-term fans requires engagement before and after they make a purchase.

Johnson & Johnson's Band-Aid Magic Vision is a great example of continuing the customer relationship. Their augmented reality application is an innovative way for the consumer packaged goods company to engage with a vital target market: the two to eight-year-old demographic. When users point their device's camera at a branded Band-Aid, they see video messages from their favorite Muppets characters. This is a great way to continue to engage customers long after their purchase.

Enhancing On-Site Customer Experiences

The Peter Paul Rubens Museum in Antwerp uses Beacon technology and augmented reality to enhance visitors' experience by providing a virtual, interactive guide that gives visitors additional information about their surroundings based on location. The application provides visitors with additional information around the museum's works of art, guided tours, and interactive games.

If your business includes a brick-and-mortar presence, the same idea opens up intriguing possibilities for in-store promotions and direct marketing.

Technology trends continue to move away from "flat" screen-based interactions to multi-dimensional and interactive content. How does your company's products, services or experiences fit within this new paradigm?