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Do you know there is an app that will give you all the information about different restaurants, hotels, shopping complexes around you if you simply point your mobile camera towards them? And all in real time!

Graphics are becoming more and more alive, aren’t they? Games like Sky Seige are changing the way we play games on our computers or mobiles!

The real and virtual world are now coming together to provide us with an all new experience! We can now see things on Live Screens that do not exist in reality! Ever wondered how this happens? What is it that brings to life non-existent things and projects them on a screen supposed to show only Reality?

It is Augmented Reality (AR). AR is making our virtual world Real!

But, what exactly is Augmented Reality? A technical definition would reveal it as, “a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.”

For us simple folks, it is the interaction of virtual things with the real world on a live platform! This means, all the animation, graphics, images, audio and other sensory inputs that we experience through recorded mediums on screens in the form of graphic games or on animated movies could be experienced in Real Time!

Yes, it sounds complex, but one can experience AR very easily. All we need are a few basic things: a Smartphone or a laptop with camera (needed to capture reality), internet (to receive the required information), software on the phone (like an App that will ultimately carry out the whole process). A compass and GPS to establish location are also important. Once you have these things, you are good to go!

You can simply hold products in front of the mobile camera or point the mobile camera at your surroundings to receive information about them! You can also play games in real time!

Use by Marketers

Although Augmented Reality has been around for a long time now, its knowledge, till recently, was majorly restricted to the engineers and scientists working on its technology. However, due to the innovative powers of marketers and advertisers, AR has come out of the closet!

When a few marketers used AR as a marketing tool in order to attract customers, the world sat up and took notice! As a result, this little known technology is now becoming more and more popular, leading to a spurt of AR Apps and Games to develop for the burgeoning Smartphone market.

Many brands have used AR as part of their promotion plans in the past. Here are some examples:-

  • Microsoft used AR gaming in their ‘I Love Bees’ campaign to launch their Halo 2 game
  • Audi used AR gaming in their ‘Art of the Heist’ campaign
  • Doritos had also launched a campaign with AR in Brazil, wherein, internet users could hold their Doritos packet up to their webcam and see the Doritos characters come to life
  • Augmented Reality was also used to promote Eminem’s album Relapse

Recently, a number of companies have started using AR in their promotional plan and they are not restricted just to the developed countries. Brands are coming up with inventive ways to use AR in their promotional plans. Here are some of the more innovative campaigns:-

  • National Geographic

Imagine shopping in a mall when you look up into a screen and see yourself standing next to a dinosaur! Spooky right! This was the campaign run by National Geographic using AR. It was carried out in shopping centres across Hungary, wherein, shoppers could interact with the kind of content one could find on the National Geographic Channel, from living animals to extinct animals to even astronauts, on a live screen.

 

  • Juiced Up by Volkswagen

This campaign was done by Volkswagen, in 2011, to promote the latest version of Volkswagen Beetle. The campaign had some really nice graphics and showed the car jumping off billboards, doing flips in the air, etc! The users simply had to download a free app and they could view the AR animations through their Smartphones or tablets.

 

  • Catch the Flash by Nike

50 runners in ‘Flash’ jackets ran around Vienna, Austria, hooked to GPS systems for 90 minutes. Participants had to track them with a mobile app and take their photo which would reveal a special number when the flash hit the jackets. Whoever caught the most flashes won.

 

 

  • Forever 21

A beautiful model takes your picture! Awesome! But wait! She’s not even there! The campaign carried out by Forever 21 involved a huge Augmented Reality billboard being put up in Times Square, New York which showed a video of a model dressed in Forever 21 clothes taking a virtual photo of the crowd and occasionally picking up people and putting them in a Forever 21 bag!

 

The Present Scenario

With the advent of Smartphones and tablets, Augmented Reality is now reaching the masses like never before. Companies are thinking of various means to utilise this innovative technique to reach their consumers and the users are finding the novelty of Augmented Reality fascinating.

This promotion technique is rapidly gaining popularity with the marketers because of its freshness and the wide are for experimentation. Also, it is a lot more engaging of the consumers than traditional techniques like regular billboards, print or TV ads, etc.

The consumers also approve of this technique as it is different, it is fun and it gives them a chance to be a part of something illusionary.

Also, there is a scope to do a lot of innovative and creative work using this technique. For e.g. JWT had come out with a visiting card based on the Augmented FReality concept. By using an app to focus on the card, animations of the work of the card owner could be seen along with the option to see the map to the office.

Another interesting advent in the field of Augmented Reality is Aurasma. It is the world’s first Visual Browser, bringing the physical and virtual worlds together. Aurasma starts as an app that runs on mobile phones or tablets. Point the phone camera at a real-world image or object and Aurasma understands the context of the image and pulls up an accompanying video from its database of over 500,000 videos. For example, a movie advertisement in a newspaper might elicit a movie trailer; a piece of art might conjure a video of the artist talking about it.

Future Scope

For majority of the world, Augmented Reality is still an unknown concept. It is new, innovative, attractive and fun. Also, there is a lot more chance of an Augmented Reality campaign going viral compared to regular campaigns.

Usage of Augmented Reality is still in its nascent stage and at this stage we cannot even begin to think on what proportions this industry can take. However, we can be sure that its benefits can have far reaching effects and it could prove highly beneficial not only for marketing or sports but in a number of other industries like education, healthcare, etc. Suffice it to say, Augmented Reality is here to stay.

Abha Gosain
www.creativaindia.com 

Some interesting links on Augmented Reality are: -

http://www.nickburcher.com/2009/05/augmented-reality-5-more-examples-of.html

http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/category/arg-campaigns/

http://www.facebook.com/augmentedreality

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/popular-science-is-first-consumer-magazine-to-deploy-aurasmas-augmented-reality-technology-bringing-june-cover-story-to-life-153042655.html

http://www.informationweek.com/news/internet/browsers/232400071