Is Augmented Reality the Future of Marketing?

Augmented Reality (AR) is one of the latest trends in online marketing that we have seen grow rapidly with the latest advances in technology. Augmented Reality is a term for a physical environment that has computer generated images superimposed onto it. In recent times we have seen AR used more and more in smart-phone games, apps and advertising. It has opened up a new world to those with the creative ideas to implement the technology in effective and inventive ways.

In this post we’ll be showing you some examples of Augmented Reality marketing campaigns, a brief explanation of how Augmented Reality works and what the future holds for Augmented Reality.

Examples of Augmented Reality marketing campaigns

TOPPS 3D LIVE Trading Cards – This has been one of the most talked about uses of AR. The trading card has been reinvented with the advances in AR technology and when you place special TOPPS cards onto a surface, in front of a webcam, you’ll see holographic players leap out. You can also control that player via your keyboard which really makes it engaging for the user.

USPS Priority Mail Virtual Box SimulatorOne of the few AR examples that we have seen that is more functional. It lets users compare the size of the item that they need to send, to the size of the boxes available from USPS.

Wrigley’s 5 GumThis is an extremely creative use of AR and one that is perfectly suited for Wrigley’s target audience. After printing off 5 symbols it’s time to turn your desktop into a music machine. Each symbol has a different track and when placed in front of your webcam starts to play that track. So you can mix it up and record your latest work of art.

Tiger beer iphone appThe app allows you to locate nearby restaurants and bars that serve Tiger Beer. Whilst walking around you can hold up your iPhone and it will pop-up with the nearest location that sells Tiger Beer, the distance to that location, preview offers and read reviews of that venue.

How does Augmented Reality work?

Augmented Reality requires the use of “tracking” to be able to find out where you are or what you are looking at. Some of the simplest forms of tracking are GPA or Wi-Fi Hotspots. However, these are not yet targeted enough or specific enough to bring you information on, say, an artefact in a museum or the bio of a singer on a CD cover.

Two solutions that have been provided are markerless and marker-based tracking.

Markerless Tracking – This is where the device recognises an existing feature or pattern in an object and tries to identify it.
Marker-based Tracking – A simpler option is to print two-dimensional barcodes next to or on the item. You’d then point your device, such as an iPhone, at the code and it brings up the web address in your browser.

In the short-term we are seeing much more marker-based technology as it is much simpler to integrate into marketing campaigns. However, it is not the best long term solution as the customer will expect more from the technology. Advances in AR technology will be driven by its ease of use and effectiveness and spending time looking for a barcode is not the more efficient answer.

What does the future hold for Augmented Reality?

The possibilities for Augmented Reality are very exciting and advertisers will drive the creative use of AR and what it can mean for peoples everyday lives. Initially it was thought that we’d all be walking around with special glasses that displayed an AR world, however, this has not taken off and with the boom of smart-phones the attention has turned to utilising these devices to their best effect.

But the future for AR goes beyond smart-phones and spectacles. In my opinion the most interesting use of Augmented Reality is within contact lenses:

“The conduit between the eye and the brain is much faster than a high-speed internet connection—and the eye can perceive more than we realize— including millions of colors and tiny shifts in lighting.
Because of this, it makes sense that an interface that works directly with your eye would catch on.
The current proofs of concept include contact lenses being developed at the University of Washington. They’re crafting lenses with a built-in LED that can be powered wirelessly with Radio Frequency and other simple electronic circuits.

Eventually, these contact lenses will contain hundreds of tiny LEDs that can display images, words, and other information in front of the eye. It’s likely that these contact lenses will be the display for a separate control unit (such as a smartphone).”

So Augmented Reality looks like it is going to be around for a while. I think it will take some time before its potential is fully recognized but when it is, it could be truly space age and the advertising opportunities that it will open up are very exciting. The best advice I can give to any business is to watch this space.

If you have any questions about this post or any of the other Fasthosts Posts then send us a Tweet @fasthosts and add the hashtag #fhblog.

Written by James Hay, Social Media Coordinator at Fasthosts Internet.

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