Augmented reality just could be one of the most exciting developments in digital marketing since the invention of the internet. Point your smartphone or tablet at an object – a book, a car, even a building – and up pop high quality images and animations with supplemental information designed to enhance your experience.
Imagine you are at the supermarket. You want more information about a product on the shelves. You aim your smartphone camera at it and up come details of how to cook it, the calorie content, serving suggestions, and a graphic of it sitting enticingly on a plate, steaming away next to a chilled glass of wine.
For businesses and brands, Augmented Reality serves up a host of possibilities and for consumers it provides a chance to be more informed, challenged and amazed. It has the potential of bringing consumers and businesses together like never before.
While still in its infancy, Augmented Reality could not only have the potential to revolutionise the way we see the world but the way we do business. It’s got what some say is the ‘Wow!’ factor.
With an explosion in the use of smartphones and tablets, it’s estimated that 60 million users will be able to access Augmented Reality apps in 2014 and it’s no wonder that certain large companies are already trying to surge ahead with it.
Who uses Augmented Reality?
Shopping giant Amazon early this year added AR technology to their iOS app where smartphone users can take a photo of an item and have it pulled up on screen so that they can buy it or add it to their wish list. Amazon hope this will encourage customers to shop for more household items online on their shopping site.
Coffee chain Starbuck’s have been playing around with AR for a while now, introducing an app back in Christmas 2011, where pointing a smartphone at one of their special cups brought up various yuletide animations. They revived the Magic Cup app for Valentine’s Day the following February allowing users to send a message to their loved ones. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nvqOzjq10w)
The BBC’s Dan Simmons recently reported on how car makers Audi are working with Metaio to produce an AR app that helps customers solve car problems. By holding up a smartphone to the engine, a driver will be able to get a real time look at possible problem areas with tutorials on how to solve them. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-26134338)
And it’s not only smartphones and tablets that can be used for Augmented Reality. Google are developing their new android-enabled glasses. Still seen as something of a gamble, if the smart glasses technology takes off we could be using it for all sorts of AR activity.
The future of Augmented Reality
It’s not surprising there are many who believe that AR will revolutionise the way we do business and digital marketing folk are already rubbing their hands in anticipation. It may even signal the death knell of traditional advertising on billboards and in bus stations, particularly for those businesses with the marketing budget to commission state of the art graphics and animations.
But has Augmented Reality already had its day? Is it about to metamorphose into something even greater? CEO of Hidden Creative, Matt Trubow, believes that AR will soon become more advanced and is calling this incarnation Articulated Naturality. Where Augmented Reality is seen as somewhat flat and reactive, the newer version would have a great deal more versatility, reaching into every aspect of our lives and having endless possibilities. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnRJaHZH9lo)