With behemoths like Cisco believing augmented reality (AR) is the future of shopping and BMW considering it the future of car repair, your organization runs the risk of being left behind if you sit this trend out.
Meanwhile, a slew of smaller companies and startups, such as Total Immersion, Layar and metaio, are already capitalizing on AR, inking deals with major companies like Audi, GM, McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Paramount Studios.
If you havent started planning for AR, here are five reasons you should start today:
1. Youre probably already using ARDefining AR can be a bit tricky, with anyone wanting to capitalize on the trend calling their solution an AR one. Weve seen this before with any number of tech trends, with terms like cloud, mobile and social networking slapped on anything and everything.
Often, this is marketing b.s. Sometimes, though, the adoption of terminology related to a hot trend signals an important shift. Im going to go out on a limb and bet that this is the case with AR.
One of the earliest uses of augmented reality that masses of people encountered was with NFL games, said Mike Schaiman, Managing Partner and co-founder of Helios Interactive Technology, an AR and interactive display company. The yellow line indicating the first-down marker is augmented reality.
Schaiman defines AR as any intersection of the digital, or virtual, world with the real one. By defining AR this broadly, many previous technology trends, such as location-based services and gesture recognition, would be lumped in as AR.
I agree with the definition to a point, sort of like how australopithecus africanus can be defined as early humans, but, well, its not really accurate to call them human. Schaimans broad definition makes an argument, though. AR is here; its been around in some form or other for quite some time, and each time it evolves end users benefit.
Think of a wildly popular example, yet one not typically thought of as AR: the Wii. The Wii changed gaming and lured entirely new consumer segments into the gaming world.
2. At least one of your competitors is cashing in on ARPick a vertical, any vertical, and some company in it is using AR. Education, marketing, entertainment, government, retail, transportation, manufacturing . . . and on and on and on. Companies in each and every one of these verticals have adopted AR.
Today, the military, retail, entertainment, marketing and mobile sectors are at the leading edge. Tomorrow, who knows?
Helios Interactive was contracted by GMR Marketing to create interactive displays and contests for Best Buy. The Best Buy Live tour, going on now, shadows the NASCAR circuit and features an AR instant-win game.
The Best Buy Live sweepstakes takes user participation to a new level by using augmented reality to engage participants in an interactive experience, said Paul Zindrick, senior event manager for Best Buy. The game begins with an augmented reality card and can end with a Best Buy gift card. Wherever the tour stops, visitors to the display are lining up for a chance to play.
Heres how it works: a visitor approaching the display is given a free card. When held in front of the display, an image of the Best Buy-sponsored car appears in the center of a screen, with various Best Buy ads and logos surrounding the car. Consumers are able to move and spin the 3D image of the vehicle to get a 360-degree view, and they also are informed of whether or not they are winners of various Best Buy gift cards.
Best Buy isnt the only biggie in on the AR game. SAP recently launched a pilot AR project at a Daimler Benz factory; Qualcomm has invested heavily in an AR research lab in Austria, and Mattel developed AR toys based on the movie Avatar.