2010: The Year of Augmented Reality

Mobile AR will have the greatest impact in the AR field over the next 5-10 years

(ADWEEK) Just about everybody in the augmented reality (AR) community will agree on one thing: mobile AR will have the greatest impact in the AR field over the next 5-10 years.

The focal point and anchor for any advertising and marketing campaign will likely be mobile-based applications that leverage more integrated and advanced AR initiatives. These applications will be able to interact with and bring to life any print-based AR, give double meaning and information to brand advertisements on billboards (akin to Roddy Piper’s glasses in John Carpenter’s They Live) and transform location-based advertising into something out of Minority Report.Though mobile AR has garnered most of the recent hype, it’s not quite ready for prime time. Lingering issues such as limited smartphone hardware and technology not advanced or powerful enough to run true AR applications, and inaccurate location-based AR apps have definitely tempered near-term “game-changing” expectations for the mobile AR field. Fortunately, there are other advertising and marketing channels, often not discussed, that can play important roles in helping a brand stand out through innovative and advanced AR technology. I won’t go over online or print as those have received the lion’s share of press over the last few months, but will highlight a few of the other channels and give some examples of work that works.

Point of purchase: P-o-p might be the most advantageous channel for AR given that a well-planned and executed AR initiative can easily turn consumer purchase interest to intent in a matter of seconds.

My personal favorite AR execution is the Lego augmented reality kiosk developed by Metaio. It works by a consumer holding up the packaging to the AR kiosk, which then activates an animation. Though this is a gimmick, it’s effective given that there’s no barrier to entry/use. Everything the consumer needs for AR is already there: the marker (in this instance the packaging) and the kiosk with integrated high-end computer, the Webcam and software. How does a parent resist denying their child this toy after the child has watched it animate before his or her eyes?

Interactive billboard: Numerous brands could leverage the unique participatory interaction of an interactive billboard. The Liverpool-based BBC Big Screen’s “Hand From Above,” developed by artist Chris O’Shea, is a great example of using augmented reality to generate interesting crowd interaction. Just think of the consumer interest that could be generated in high-traffic areas such as New York’s Times Square.

Event marketing: Event Marketing, like point of purchase, is also a great channel for AR, given most consumers will likely already have interest in your brand. Though most of these executions are gimmicks, this channel is maturing.

The Nissan Cube, seen at the Los Angeles Auto Show and developed by Total Immersion, ties in brand packaging with an AR kiosk at the Nissan booth. Basically, it’s an AR brochure. Another great example is the piece developed by Metaio at the Xcel Energy Stadium in Minneapolis, which leveraged facial tracking to let fans view themselves with a goalie mask. Similar to point of purchase, the AR kiosk is already set up so there’s no barrier to entry for the consumer.

Interactive storefront display: AR-based storefront displays can be used in myriad ways to help drive consumers into your store.

Hugo Boss’s London store window, developed by Simon & John, doesn’t break new ground, but shows some exciting ways consumers can interact with a display. Like the dress in the window? Why not see how it looks on you right then and there. Tech like this is just around the corner.

Sniff is another innovative use of AR. Created by artist Karolina Sobecka and developed by Jim George, it shows an animated dog “following” people as they walk by a store window.

Other: I’m not sure what channel this would actually fall under, but the Digital Binocular Station, developed by Mindspace Solutions, is a slam dunk for the tourism industry and public places such as museums. The link shows how ordinary museum statues and exhibits can come to life when viewing augmented reality through the binocular station.

I hope the examples above show why there’s genuine excitement around AR and how it will be a game changer for every marketing and advertising channel. It is just a matter of time until technical advances with mobile will help AR reach that next level of “hyped expectations.”

On a final note, if you’re curious to see where AR is really headed, you should definitely check out a video from TED of the Sixth Sense wearable AR, developed by the MIT Media Lab. This is the type of tech that gets everybody in the AR field excited and will redefine how we interact with virtual content in the real world.

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