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People Will be Pinching Themselves as Reality Becomes Augmented

August 25, 2009

Imagine you’re shopping online and you find a shirt that you really love. Now imagine previewing it on yourself before you go through all the hassle that is online shopping.

Well according to an interesting article on adweek.com , it’s not such a far-fetched idea. In fact, augmented reality could be the “next big thing” in marketing.

However, in a world where people try to present a new “next big thing” every three minutes, it’s easy to simply disregard it as the next big flop (remember the Segway? Yea, me neither). BUT, upon closer review, there may actually be something to this AR.

For those of you scratching your heads, AR is where virtual reality meets real time footage. For instance, the most commonly known example of AR is the little yellow “first down” line seen during football games. The real-world football game is meshed with the virtual element of the yellow line drawn in real time.

Pretty cool concept when you think about it. And it seems as though marketers have been thinking as well as coming up with innovative ways to use AR to their advantage as it gains some serious credibility.

No longer just a cool effect used in sci-fi movies, augmented reality has moved into the mainstream through several new Web and mobile applications. And it’s not all just hype; there is some serious potential to launch some cutting-edge digital campaigns.

One company taking a shot at AR is Zugara , with their Webcam Social Shopper app. According to adweek.com, “the prototype, which the shop created as a test for clients, lets consumers “try on” clothing – via their Webcams and monitors – as if they were in a store… users can switch to new outfits by motioning with their hands.”

Regardless of whether or not it could truly be a valuable marketing tool, that is one seriously cool application! Way to make the average consumer feel like Tom Cruise in Minority Report!

Zugara, however, isn’t the first to tap into this sweet technology. According to an article in the New York Times, “Kicking Reality Up a Notch”, there’s a free downloadable app available called Layar, developed by SPRXmobile , a privately held company based in Amsterdam. Layar allows people to use the camera on their cellphones to see information about nearby restaurants, ATMs, even available jobs displayed in front of the buildings that house them.

The same article also mentions a similar product called Wikitude.me, developed for Android phones. “… Wikitude.me provides information on 800,000 points of interest around the world, according to Phillip Breuss-Schneeweis, founder of Mobilizy, the Austrian company that developed Wikitude.me.”

Doctors are even trying to find a way to utilize AR, as another NY Times article explains. Scientists are hoping to use augmented reality to “make transparent the solid walls of flesh or plaster within a decade, or even sooner.”

From doctors to marketers, everyone is trying to find a way to use augmented reality. And it’s not hard to see why. X-ray vision in the emergency room, restaurant guides in the streets, and racks of clothing in a bedroom. Augmented reality is not the next big thing. It is the now big thing.