Can It be a Game Changer?

Of­fer­ing en­ter­tain­ment with real-life like ex­pe­ri­ences, AR can cer­tainly give a boost to mar­ket­ing cam­paigns


Atrea­sure of data at the users’ fin­ger­tips and an ex­ten­sion of vir­tual re­al­ity, Aug­mented Re­al­ity (AR) is al­low­ing users to in­ter­act vir­tu­ally with their sur­round­ings.

What is Aug­mented Re­al­ity?

AR is a term used to de­scribe the live view of a phys­i­cal, real-world en­vi­ron­ment that is aug­mented by com­puter-gen­er­ated sen­sory in­puts, such as sound or graph­ics. A typ­i­cal AR en­vi­ron­ment has dig­i­tal in­for­ma­tion trans­posed onto a real-world view.

Blur­ring the Line

The ex­perts are pulling graph­ics out of your tele­vi­sion screens or com­puter dis­plays and in­te­grat­ing them into re­al­world en­vi­ron­ments, as they con­tinue to blur the line be­tween what’s real and what’s com­puter-gen­er­ated by en­hanc­ing what we see, hear, feel, and smell.

In the re­cently held Mo­bile World Congress, Qual­comm showed how users can aim their phone at an ad from Nor­we­gian boot maker Vik­ing, and see dif­fer­ent mod­els su­per­im­posed over the ad. For its 2011 win­ter cat­a­log, Moose­jaw, an out­er­wear re­tailer, uti­lized the AR tech­nol­ogy to give view­ers an ‘X-ray vi­sion’ while look­ing through the cat­a­log.

Nven Heinz Oetchup bot­tles of­fer recipes to any­one with a smart­phone. Qual­comm is also work­ing with ‘Sesame Street’, a pop­u­lar US chil­dren’s tele­vi­sion show, on an in­ter­ac­tive play­set that al­lows fig­urines of Bert and Nrnie to come to life when cap­tured by a smart­phone.

Volk­swa­gen uti­lized AR to tar­get a par­tic­u­lar con­sumer seg­ment. The com­pany placed AR-in­ter­faced bill­boards around Toronto and Van­cou­ver, al­low­ing any­one with an iPhone or an iPad tablet to view vir­tual bee­tles and their per­for­mance and stunts. The stunts were rem­i­nis­cent of X Games per­for­mances, and the pub­lic lo­ca­tions have given the ads a sense of ex­cite­ment. As one of the most ex­cit­ing AR mo­bile mar­ket­ing ef­forts till date, the cam­paign’s launch video gen­er­ated over 100,000 views in just a few weeks, cre­at­ing a lot of buzz for the com­pany.

Wel­com­ing the hol­i­day sea­son, the world’s largest cof­fee shop chain Star­bucks also used AR to cre­ate images on dec­o­rated cups. A free mo­bile app down­load—avail­able on both An­droid and Ap­ple mo­bile de­vices—al­lows con­sumers to view 5 dif­fer­ent an­i­mated shows on 5 dif­fer­ent cups. The pro­mo­tion cre­ated a lot of ex­cite­ment in the tech world.

Fu­ture Prospects

A new re­port by Ju­niper Re­search in­di­cates that AR tech­nol­ogy will gen­er­ate $2 mn in 2012 and is ex­pected to reach $714 mn an­nu­ally by 2014.

AR, in par­tic­u­lar, can be very use­ful to the med­i­cal field due to its abil­ity to present physi­cians with de­tailed in­for­ma­tion by in­ter­ac­tive vir­tual dis­plays. And the NSA ex­pects that as­tro­nauts will also be us­ing the sys­tem in the near fu­ture.

In 2012 AR tech­nol­ogy will be used for at­ten­tion-grab­bing stunts in the world of mo­bile mar­ket­ing. How­ever as more peo­ple buy smart­phones and the tech­nol­ogy be­comes more nu­anced, many an­a­lysts pre­dict that the mar­ket­ing cam­paigns will be­come in­creas­ingly so­phis­ti­cated. Only time will tell what AR will do for mo­bile mar­ket­ing, but the ex­pert opin­ions in­di­cate that the tech­nol­ogy can be a big time game changer.

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