Augmented Reality (also known as total immersive augmented reality) is a term that has been around nearly a decade but recent technology innovation puts the power of AR in the hands of any cell phone user. So what is AR?
AR is the convergence between the physical world and the world of information. It is a class of applications that marry contextual information with location based data so the result is that your computer interface (PC screen or mobile device) delivers a composite that overlays the data world with the real world. One recent example application is GE's "Plug Into the Smart Grid":
With advances in processor speed for mobile devices the complex calculations necessary to deliver the same experience on a handheld device are now a..."reality". Here are a few examples that were recently reviewed by "Fast Company":
1. Yelp has an Easter Egg (hidden feature) in its latest release of the Yelp Application for iPhone 3GS. Walk down a city street and launch Monocle (the name of their hidden feature) and Yelp information is superimposed on the image of the street, including user ratings and restaurant reviews.
2. Trulia (real-estate search site) layers listings on top of the google android's camera image so you can walk around a neighborhood and spot buildings where apartments are for sale/rent. This is one of 150+ implementations on the "Layar Reality Browser" platform:
3. "Tat" is an Augmented ID application which incorporates AR with visual recognition and social networks. In the demo for this application (for Google Android) users can point their phone at a presenter and get links to their profile, facebook, twitter account, etc - all based on the visual recognition established with the service:
How will AR affect marketing?
The capabilities of mobile platforms have significant applications for marketers (as well as security and manufacturing). Here are some ideas for you to consider:
1. Indirect: viral promotion: leverage the buzz around the use of an AR "toy" to draw attention to your product. Embed your product in the AR and let users share their AR screen with other users to leverage the power of community.
2. Direct: Product Demonstrations: I noticed the Lego store in New York has an augmented reality application which displays the assembled product laid out on top of the box. Imagine an animation that shows how easy/complex the assembly is?