New technologies go through a number of phases as they progress from “drawing board” idea to prototype to public awareness, assessment of possibilities, learning and experimentation, to practical applications. Augmented reality (AR) seems to be in the late experimentation phase, although some very practical commercial uses are being introduced. Here two Swiss AR experts Martin Kovacovsky and Marius Hugli demonstrate the possibilities of AR by bringing the pages of “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” to life. The images printed on the paper leap into action on the screen when a camera (in the lamp) is focused on a page. Suddenly, traditional print becomes a multimedia vehicle, and the boundaries between analog and digital content all but disappear.
IKEA is redefining retail catalogs by making theirs come alive. On July 31, the Swedish ready-to-assemble home furnishings giant will begin sending their 2013 edition, so keep your smartphone handy. Interspersed throughout the catalog are augmented reality codes that you can access by downloading a free IKEA catalog app onto your Android or iPhone. Look for the smartphone icons on the page and hold your phone about eight inches above the image to activate the digital layer.
Created by McCann agency with Metaio technology, the app-friendly catalog takes you beyond the printed page and launches interactive content – three-dimensional products, video stories about the product designers, an x-ray look behind a cabinet door, etc. It’s a digital magazine and shopping advisor that piggybacks on paper. For IKEA, the largest portion of their marketing budget goes toward the catalog, of which they print 211 million copies translated into some 20 languages. Enabling access to digital content is like expanding the number of pages without adding pages. Unlike websites where you have to find a way to make consumers visit your site first, the printed catalog puts the marketing piece in the consumers’ hands and then encourages them to linger longer, read deeper and return to the catalog repeatedly to discover what else is there.
Augmented reality, or AR. If you don’t know of it, you should. If you haven’t used it yet, you will. What used to dwell in the realm of science fiction and extreme geekdom is finding practical application in all kinds of areas, including marketing, packaging, exhibits, sales demonstrations, technical training, maps, architecture and entertainment. The possibilities are just beginning to be recognized. Augmented reality lets the user see the world around him with superimposed computer graphics that appear in 3-D animation, visible from every angle and following the sight-path of the viewer. In its simplest version, the user can print out a high-contrast black-and-white pattern of squares and point it at a computer webcam. The webcam reads it like a laser bar code and sends a fully formed image back that appears to come alive right on the paper in the user’s hand.