Augmented reality software firm Metaio has announced that there are now 50,000 developers working on its platform, with more than 1,000 published applications across enterprise, industrial, publishing and retail.

Augmented reality (AR) is a way of viewing digital information that has been superimposed – or augmented – onto a live view of the physical world.

This could range from a mirror in a shop that allows customers to virtually “try on” clothes (check out Tesco's 'Magic Mirrors' pilot), to a mobile app that uses the smartphone's viewfinder, GPS and compass to gather information about the surrounding area and then overlay details of nearby services and attractions.

Juniper Research predicts that AR applications will generate close to $300 million in revenues globally in 2013, and more than 2.5 billion AR apps will be downloaded to smartphones and tablets per annum by 2017, with games accounting for the largest share of downloads.

Founded in 2003, Metaio is one of the only AR companies that provides software for PC, web, mobile and custom offline installations. It is best known for its free mobile AR browser available for Android and iOS devices, known as Junaio.

The news that there are now 50,000 developers comes less than two years after the company released its software development kit (SDK). Both the Metaio SDK and its Creator software have now been updated to support better and more efficient content management, application creation and game development.

“Metaio has been working with Augmented Reality for over 10 years, and in that time we’ve grown an amazing community of developers,” said Metaio CEO Thomas Alt.

“It’s important that we continue to innovate and offer the most advanced AR software – not just for the devices of today but the wearable computing and mobile devices of tomorrow.”

Earlier this year, Metaio released a chipset design intended to accelerate augmented reality on silicon platforms – part of its initiative to see AR on every smartphone by 2014.

The company is currently showcasing applications built on the Metaio SDK running on the AR-Ready Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses (a rival to Google Glass), at the 2013 Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara.

“Wearable computing is the next step for natural, useful Augmented Reality,” said Metaio CTO Peter Meier. “In order to realise the dream of an always on, always augmented world, it is important to have software for developers ready, today, for smart glasses like the Vuzix M100.”