Augmented Reality: Reality With a Twist

Augmented Reality is a new technology that uses your web cam, a black and white square marker (symbol), and Flash to mix live video and 3D graphics into a new form of interactivity.  People are finding out about these new special websites and visiting them with their special marker in hand.  Once there, the user holds the Augmented Reality symbol in front of their web cam and, when the website recognizes the image, amazing things happen on the screen.

My first experience with Augmented Reality was through a GE promotional campaign.  The technology was new and interesting, and when I noticed it was created with Flash, I knew it was something HD Interactive would be great at because our team members, especially our Creative Director, Todd Williams, are experts in advanced Flash development.  Another big part of Augmented Reality is the 3-D animation, which is yet another skill HDI possesses.  I could see innumerable possibilities for the use of the technology, from learning tools (for example, our I Can Learn My ABC’s game and We Can Play Hangman) to e-cards (like our company Christmas card) to giant promotional campaigns for any kind of product.

The GE campaign showed me how this amazing new mix of real and artificial environments could be used to promote products.  GE, the conservative company that has been around at least as long as the automobile, is using the forward-thinking promotional tool to reach a younger generation.  Through the site, they showed us that they not only create everything from jet engines to light bulbs, they are also environmentally conscious and have gone green, an attribute that appeals to younger generations.  GE is reaching this target market by using a fresh, new technology to appeal to the target market’s fresh, new ideas.  Another awesome example of GE’s new online promotions is: whatsyourlightingstyle.com. If you want a website like that, let’s talk. I’d love the opportunity to create a site like that one.

We at HD Interactive are really excited about the idea of Augmented Reality as promotion.  The technology is a great way to connect printed advertising materials and the Internet to create a well-rounded marketing experience.  When a customer receives your postcard or sees your ad, it is easy to read it once and move on or throw it away, but with Augmented Reality, they are encouraged to use the ad in conjunction with the website to create a new experience.  Now, the customer is not only involved in the promotion, they are on your website, browsing your products or learning more about your company.

Augmented Reality is also a great way for a company to go viral in social media, even if they’re not sure how to use the social media outlet.  For a lot of older companies, Twitter and blogging are foreign ideas, but if just one customer uses your promotional symbol on your website and is impressed, they could share their experience on any or all of the social media networks or even post a blog article, which could lead to more and more posts as new users become aware.

Yet another draw of this technology is that it is so easy to implement.  The symbol can be almost anything, meaning that the logo your company is already known for can quickly become an outlet to a new online adventure; the only step would be for us to make a great Flash website to coincide with it.  The logo could be printed on anything, from t-shirts and product packages to business cards or print ads, making distribution of it easy and fun.  Home Depot recently created a gift card that uses the Augmented Reality technology to enhance the online shopping experience.  The gift card is now more than just a piece of plastic, it is the gateway to a new shopping experience.

One of the biggest recent uses of Augmented Reality was implemented by the world famous fast food chain, McDonald’s.  To promote the futuristic movie, Avatar, McDonald’s included collectable Avatar cards with every Big Mac.  These cards direct users to a website where, in conjunction with their webcam, customers use the cards to experience the jungles of a mythical distant planet, thus connecting them with the futuristic style of the movie.

Augmented Reality offers so many ways to promote a business and increase brand awareness.  It can be used to create interactive games, e-cards, and any number of other things.  We are proud to have a team of creative developers who are very skilled in the new technology and excited for what the future of Augmented Reality holds.  We’ve recently been contracted by a couple large clients to do some very cool Augmented Reality projects. We’ll be sure to share them once they are complete and launched to the public.

2 Comments

AshvinDecember 28th, 2009 at 10:46 pm

Hi,

great post. completely agree with your insights. I have seen many AR apps, websites and more.. it definitely has a great potential to be a great tool for costumer engagement. But the challenge is it is limited to few hi-end mobile phones which is around 5% of mobile penetration! I think marketers has to come out with innovative ideas on AR to provide AR experience to larger use base! Two suck examples are IKEA AR app where on can see how the products will look when placed in the room. Other interesting AR implementation i saw is that of Nike Sportswear in India. I saw the printads of Nike sports wear with some 2D barcodes and asked to download an NIKE application.. I did do, and when i scanned it, animated information on NSW products and the sports personality featured in the ad was displayed! It was developed by a company called telibrahma.. Its great to see major brands like Nike to embrace new tools! I’m sure Nike has more plans with AR in future, but its a good start!

[…] about these virtual reality applications and see a live demo for yourself by visiting one of the HDI Blog posts for augmented reality. See more examples In addition, I found these examples of the company’s work to be particularly […]

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