04 January 2010 764 Views

Is 2010 The Year of Augmented Reality?

by Iain Welford

So that’s it. A new decade has passed, and so far I’ve not got that flying car yet (can’t afford it) and my fridge isn’t ordering my food online yet (can’t afford it, the fridge that is, not the food), but technology is definitely catching up with the predictions. Now it’s time for Augmented Reality to step up. We’ve covered some Augmented Reality already, but 2010 is the year it takes off! Hopefully. Adweek has wrote an interesting article about the use of this new form of marketing with some suggestions as to where it might go in the next year.

The most exciting thing that has happened to AR is the iPhone. Little did Steve Jobs know that his phone would be the platform that would launch a new form of media to us through its huge App store, but that’s exactly what is happening now. There already apps out there that showcase the usefulness of overlaying information for tourists. By using the GPS and the Accelerometer built into the iPhone, it can figure out where you are and what you are pointing at. By using the app in conjunction with the camera, it overlays information on the screen.


How does this fit in with advertising? Well, apart from the obvious directions to your nearest burger joint, Adweek predicts that billboards will start to take advantage of AR soon, giving adverts double 2D and AR meanings. This is exactly the type of thing that viral marketing leaps on! An advert that shows different things to different people. Imagine this tied into the D-9 bus bench ads and you can see the potential.


There is a problem though with this type of advertising. At the moment it is really limited to users of the iPhone, so as with everything, the early adopters will get some advantage but will have to suffer through the bugs that will be raised. Other phone makers will pick the trail up though. It’s only a matter of time. A more expensive but more rewarding way of bring AR billboards to everybody is to substitute the traditional billboard poster for a large video screen. The BBC have successfully showcased the technology with their “hand from above” interactive exhibition. Watch the video below.


Hand from Above from Chris O'Shea on Vimeo




Point of Purchase is something that I think we will see a lot more of in the future, but again, this will be limited by cost. The basic premise involves AR “Kiosks” in a store, which will show a 3d representation of the product, aptly demonstrated by this Lego themed display:





Again, pretty cool, and it can only get better. This could be used for any boxed product, from toys to televisions able to show you an accurate 3D representation of your product working or simplly to get an idea of the dimensions or turning it around so that you can see what connections are on the back. Clothing manufacturers will probably jump on this one pretty quickly because, let’s face it, who doesn’t want to try a T-shirt to see how it would like whilst wearing it. With this technology, you only need yourself and a marker so the AR knows what you want to try on.


Interactive storefronts are straight out of Minority Report and again, Fashion houses are already showing an interest, with Hugo Boss showing off the technology in their London Store. Ultimately this technology will evolve into something a lot more personal and will be the precursor to a real life Virtual Reality in my opinion. There will always be something in-between you and the AR image, whether it be your phone or a billboard, but imagine a pair of glasses, or even contact lenses that you could wear that would allow you to see this constantly. It’s pretty exciting when you realise the potential of this technology.


In terms of viral marketing, I really hope this goes beyond the 3D models we have seen so far from Star Trek and such, and takes it out into the real world. Look out for a new “what-if” in the next few weeks to find out how I think this new media could be used to make things much more exciting.


What do you think? Are you as excited as we are here at MovieViral about AR, or do you think it’s a flash in the pan gimmick? Leave your comments below or join the discussion in our forum.



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