Augmented Reality: Changing The Face Of Marketing

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Augmented reality can make shopping that much more interactive — and easier.

By Ayesha Mathews-Wadhwa (Founder & Creative Director, PixInk)

If your world is feeling small, try augmented reality on for size. From mobile apps to video games and so much more, this forward-thinking technology is becoming more mainstream… not to mention appealing.

Augmented reality (AR) involves tying in live view of a physical, real-world environment with amplified elements such as sound, video, graphics, or GPS data.

According to a report from Juniper Research, “over 2.5 billion mobile augmented reality apps will be downloaded to smartphones and tablets per annum” by 2017.

Taking augmented reality on the go

Brands are taking notice. Diane von Furstenberg teamed up with Google, putting Google Glass augmented reality glasses on the catwalk at New York Fashion Week. Her models wore the high-tech specs to capture intense images on the runway.

You don’t need fancy glasses to experience this growing trend. It’s available on mobile phones, too.

Recently, the concept made headlines when Nokia launched the Lumia 920. Its City Lens for Windows Phone 8 is a navigation overlay that can be held up, say, at a shopping plaza, and then identifies all of the stores in the area with links to more information on them. Imagine yourself holding that up in a mall or Times Square… you could spot attractions in an instant.

An array of apps combine GPS and AR so users can search for just about anything:

  • DishPointer is a popular AR app that lets you raise your phone up to the sky and locate satellites so you know which way to point your dish.
  • StarChart lets you aim your phone to the sky and spot constellations.
  • SnapSnap Showroom lets you visualize furniture from stores by overlaying the furnishings with photos from your home.

Practical uses?

So, is AR just for geeks? Not completely.

The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto used AR for its “Ultimate Dinosaurs” exhibit. Users were able to see what flesh would look like on dinosaur bones and see the creatures move around using an app on their smartphones. They also used iPads to flesh out fossils into creatures. Sounds a little off-base, but you can only imagine how that technology could make day trips with kids a little more exciting, no?

Think about what AR can do for retail. The 2013 edition of the IKEA catalog has its own AR spin. You can use a smartphone app to see inside cabinets and get design ideas. Marketers are sure to consider AR if they haven’t already, as it can make shopping that much more interactive — and easier.

Enhanced media with a click

To access information on mobile devices users download the applicable app, wave their phones over the image and then more information pops up… the same way they can by taking a photo of the sky and seeing Andromeda or Cassiopeia come to life.

This summer, the Los Angeles Times launched an app that gave readers more material upon hovering their phones or tablets over photos of the Olympics in the newspaper. The September issue of Rolling Stone’s publication in South Africa featured former singer Arno Carsten and gave users Aurasma and got more than than 180,000 digital interactions in just four days.

AR is poised to expand and it will certainly be interesting to see how AR affects consumers. If nothing else, it shows us how far we have come.

Women 2.0 readers: How is augmented reality being used in an innovative way? Let us know in the comments!

About the guest blogger: Ayesha Mathews-Wadhwa is Founder and Creative Director of PixInk, a San Francisco-based digital design microagency serving a macro niche: businesses marketing to women, who drive over 80% of purchase decisions. She nurtures emerging brands and strengthens iconic ones through powerful design, insight and a deep understanding of the female consumer. PixInk’s microagency structure works extremely well for Apple and Facebook, among others. Follow her on Twitter at @ayeshamathews.