There was a lot of buzz about new visualization techniques back in 2009. About a year ago, Mashable posted on an Apple patent called Apple ID:
[it] recognizes an object based on visuals (through the iPhone’s camera), a RFID reader or through GPS, and then fetches the data from related databases. I like to imagine all this happening in real-time, with a layer of visual information superimposed on the actual camera image, but in the beginning it’ll probably just take you to a related Wikipedia page. Still, it’s a start.
What's being described is Augmented Reality (AR) - in which information is paired with, merged and displayed with a real time, real world image. Here's a fun example. This augmented reality app displays information on where the nearest London Tube station can be found.
And here's an app called Wikitude, an augmented reality browser created by Mobilizy, an Austrian startup.
So kinda cool stuff has it evolved? And does it make business sense? Will Augmented Reality ever become part of the marketing mix? Will it become a standard arrow in the quiver for marketers? And all on the back of the more than 4.1 billion mobile devices out there.
- Imagine a company like Bazaarvoice not only instrumenting a client's web site to provide ratings and reviews of their products but enabling a broad swath of its client base to have those reviews accessed at brick and mortar outlets. Or even getting reviews of theme park rides when the kids insist they won't be able to go on living unless you take them to Disney World?
- Serve up interactive offers when scanning products at a retail outlet or even a billboard -- "get 20% off this widget when you use promo code XYZ."
- For you B2B types, how about a complete merging of virtual and real time events enabling interaction of both audience types with one another.
- Using AR to see how clothes and accessories would look on you without having to even have the accessory or item of clothing in hand
Marketers are already blurring the lines between the type of AR described above and what I would call AA (don't even go there!) -- Augmented Animation, in which real-world images are being used on a web site in an animated fashion. Example? Wise potato chips created a marketing campaign called Rock the Cheez! that asks customers to print out and cut out small squares from a web site and put them in front of their web cam. The square is then animated on the web site and the consumer can produce a video. I think the notion of animating real-life objects is both a clever and engaging marketing strategy but its not Augmented Reality to my way of thinking.
Clearly, there's a place for true AR in marketing. As the data stream surrounding products gets richer, AR becomes more applicable. Its no longer a matter of "if", its a matter of "when."