Recently, there has been some major buzz about a trend known as augmented reality (AR). While this trend is more well known in the academic and marketing worlds, I think it is about to hit mainstream, especially from a consumer basis.
Augmented reality is explained as “add[ing] information and meaning to a real object or place. Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality does not create a simulated reality. Instead, it takes a real object or space and uses technologies to add contextual data to deepen students’ (or in our case consumers’) understanding of it.” In the past, the primary uses of augmented reality devices were academic, research, military, architecture and science based.
Now, marketers and advertises are taking these technologies to the masses. Some early implementations of these technologies include a German print ad for the Mini Cooper and a GE Ecomagination campaign.
While these are very innovative applications and a great beginning to the use of AR in marketing and advertising, I think it falls flat in terms of what a consumer can do with the object. One company leading the way in terms of making AR more interactive is the firm Total Immersion. This company has not only created holograms out of print materials, they have gone one step further giving the user the ability to manipulate and interact with those holograms.
Total Immersion partnered with Topps to create an baseball card that when put infront of a web cam will display the player on the card. It does not end there. It also uses sound to announce the player, and then goes into a simple game that can be played. They have a pitching target game, a batter’s hitting game and an outfielders fly ball game.
While creating a 3-dimentional image from a flat physical object is novel, it is not interactive and there is no real reason to keep coming back. You can only look at the 360 degree views of the mini cooper so many times. Now, if you could use that mini cooper in a driving game, then that is completely different.
Turning these augmented realities into interactive (most likely gaming) environments that live both on- and off-line, is the immediate furture of this technology from a marketing perspective. Once this technology goes completely mainstream and the novelty wears off, the question becomes how can you get consumers to keep interacting with these products? It is through gaming and multi-media that this can be accomplished. Also, because this lives online you can play against users across the web.