Augmented Reality – will it make your 2010 plan?
04 February 2010
Hello – I’m back, it’s been a long time. Please excuse my absence. I took some time to re-group over the holiday season – and it worked. I am refreshed!
One of my projects as soon as I returned this year was an extensive research project to benchmark best practice online engagement models. Obviously content is king, but good content with no engagement strategy is a shameful waste. Therefore I also analyzed web site designs, tools, social utility applications, widgets, and more. Interesting piece of work that was both broad and very specific at the same time. Ultimately I was able to extract insight in order to interpret the effectiveness and corresponding drivers for success. I am laughing at myself reviewing this intro as it is says so much, and yet so little at the same time…. Anyway, I am only trying to give context to my topic today – Augmented Realty – or more specifically how it is advancing rapidly in both utility and innovation in a way that I have to agree with the many 2010 social web predictions it is the ‘trend’ to watch for.
Quick overview on Augmented Reality (AR). As described by Wikipedia, AR “is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are merged with (or augmented by) Computer-generated imagery”. In more concise words, it is the real world with an added virtual layer. Here is an example of an interesting Lego point of sale display which showcases how it works:
While not new in social media or youth marketing, until tail end of the 2009 it was only really championed by early adopters, and certainly was not considered part of a mainstream consumer consciousness. Developers have nailed the cool factor which we know builds credibility with a youth audience, but experience tells us innovation must drive utility and function, and therefore word of mouth appeal, otherwise it can quickly die. I feel this is in a large part due to the time it requires to engage with these new advancements, high barrier of entry needs to deliver high return.
However many argue the barriers are breaking down, the Lego video above is an example as everything you need to experience it is right there at the point of purchase. You might also recall a Dec 2009 AdWeek feature which outlines predictions on how the advancements in GPS-enabled smartphones could propel this technology in 2010. My own prediction is that to really take off a big brand needs to come in and create awareness and educate consumers about the technology….bring in some recent announcements.
To help get us thinking about the possibilities, I have included recent AR examples including some big brand names, to help you decide for yourself if you think this is going to become a major player in marketing – or just another gimmick.
BEATLES AR TOUR
So I think tourism and travel seems to be an obvious functional use for AR. Inevitably once we see one great example, many more grasp the capabilities and the technology takes off. In this case some clever people at AugmentReality were invited to beta test Layar 3.0 for Android and launched The AR Beatles Tour in December. Users can follow the story of the Beatles around London, including the iconic Abbey Road. The pic here shows if you point your enabled-smartphone over the crossing at Abbey Road you can actually see caricatures of Ringo, Paul, John and George – the app suggests to get your friend in and take a photo. The virtual walking tour covers 42 locations, and the next destination only appears after the previous location has been visited (if they haven’t already I think Lonely planet should get onto this….). I should add I am not in London to test this one for myself….but looks cool!
ADIDAS LAUNCHES FIRST AR SNEAKER
Ok, maybe not the most contested race to market, but still newsworthy. The most recent – and highly publicized – example of AR is the new adidas Original sneaker line which unlocks a world of 3-D games (note while I am not associated adidas is a client of my agency in other markets). The say “adidas Originals AR Game Pack is a set of 5 shoes, each printed with an AR code on the tongue. When you hold the code in front of your webcam, you’ll gain access to a virtual version of the adidas Originals Neighborhood. Each month between February and April, we’ll launch a new interactive game within the Neighborhood and your shoe will be the game controller.” What’s interesting about a leading brand getting involved is that it has the resources to also develop the education campaign for new users, which otherwise could be a barrier. Check out the hype video here, which showcases the design style they are going for.
Hallmark Launches Webcam Greetings with Augmented Reality
Hallmark also recently announced the release of webcam greetings, new cards that use augmented reality technology to bring the card to life on a computer screen. The person receiving the card can visit www.hallmark.com/extra and follow the directions to view a 3D animated feature. You can sample the technology on the site as well. Again, the combination of the education campaign and a mix of younger generations encouraging their parents and even grandparents to join the fun might help mainstream awareness.