I dove into the world of augmented reality today for the first time; and to tell you the truth I basically only just scratched the surface!
First, augmented reality refers to a display in which simulated imagery, graphics, or symbology is superimposed on a view of the surrounding environment.
Augmented reality really allows you to experience a literal new dimension to the world around you. This technology simply put allows the camera, gps and a layer of software on your device to function as one. It pulls all these resources together to work out exactly :
1. Where you are.
2. what you are looking at.
3. What information has been attributed to whatever you are looking at.
In the example image above the user of the phone is looking at buying a new house. They simply look at the houses in the area that are shown to be available and the software interface does the rest by flagging the pertinent info and showing the user the detail relevant to the house they are looking at.
This opens many millions of doors to advertisers both online and offline! Magazine adverts can have augmented reality features built in so that the adverts “come alive” when you move your phone or media consumption device (trying really hard not to say iPad – D’oh!) over the advert additional info can be displayed.
Billboard advertising can really begin to flourish and the “3D” advertising we have at the moment (thank you Eno’s 3D billboard) will soon be a thing of the past and look like amateurish outdoor advertising. With augmented reality, the billboards will again be able to live and move.
As dangerous as it sounds, image having the windscreen of your car acting as the platform on which these additional bits of info were displayed. No longer will you have to squint your eyes to see the tiny GPS screen; now your entire windscreen IS the gps (I should patent that if its not already taken!).
The reality (augmented or otherwise) is that every media device being launched at the moment already houses some augmented reality software and with developers launching AR (augmented reality) apps every day; the future is here already. The device houses that don’t keep up with this digital trend are going to lose market share and are going to find themselves scrambling to keep up.
For the moment there is still mixed reality; the tiny little stepping stone that might get completely forgotten. It’s the bridge where you can still use your hand held device to look at an image and then translate that image into a online experience.
An example of this is the 2D barcode (if you are using a BlackBerry, you can use BeeTag which is available in App World). When you scan this image with your phone, BeeTag then reads this info and pushes you to the website destination.
When this becomes mainstream; as many people still don’t use this either as marketers or as consumers; augmented reality will be hot on its heels and ready to blow us all away from advertising to the way we experience the world in general!