Real life but better?

The future of Augmented Reality…

This week the London Eye announced that they would be introducing Augmented Reality (AR) to each of its 32 pods. Visitors will be able to hold up a tablet or smartphone while looking at the various attractions to display a description of what they see. If you turn up without your tablet or phone then don’t worry, each pod comes equipped with a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 so that you can still join in!

Augmented reality is nothing new, but is continuously developing and will one day be all around us. So, what is it? Augmented reality layers graphics and interactive digital content over an image of the real world. It blurs the line between what is real and what is computer generated; enhancing what we see, hear, feel and smell. It creates a more engaging experience for the user by easily using real life content. With so many electronics having the capability to implement augmented reality with their digital cameras (the PlayStation Vita, Xbox Kinect and every Smartphone) this is something we need to take note of.

The technology is largely associated with the gaming industry. With news this week that gaming company Total Immersion will announce a new racing game demo at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco; taking place from the 5th-9th March. The demo uses face tracking to implant your face into the game and by holding up anything shaped like a wheel you can control the simulated car.

However, it is changing. With increased usage in marketing campaigns, augmented reality is being brought into the forefront of public consciousness. By using augmented reality within marketing, brands can improve awareness, likeability and ultimately consumer purchases. Sky will launch such an advertising campaign next week (9th March) for their new Sky Sports Formula 1 channel. If you point your smartphone or iPad at the print ads produced, you will be able to access an interactive clip from Sky Sports F1 presenter Martin Brundle.

Augmented reality is gaining such momentum at the moment that it’s hard to imagine a future without it. In terms of marketing, brands need to be careful in using it to add value and not just because everyone else is doing it. For us, the consumer, it’s an exciting time as we get to test out the new technology as it continues to improve and become readily available to us. This could even be in the form of Head-up Display (HUD) glasses by the end of the year if the whispers surrounding Google are anything to go by. Apparently they’re on the look-out for experts in the field, which could mean we’d be walking around in ‘Google Goggles’ with overlays about landmarks and even passers-by right in front of our eyes sooner than we think!