Augmented reality: bringing I.T. to life

Every now and then you come across a cool technology where you desperately want to find an application to test it out – audience and message be damned!  Augmented reality – for me, is one of those devices.

  OK – so I’m a little late to the game (looking on YouTube there were videos demo’ing AR from YEARS ago), but I think techniques like this have so much promise, not only from an advertising/Direct Mail perspective, but also to bring to life some of the work that’s been done in virtual worlds to an audience that’s not prepared to create an avatar and learn to “fly”.

IBM created a green data centre inside Second Life which allows the user to to take a tour of the virtual data center and to explore the energy efficient options available to customers.  Whilst this allows the user to immerse themselves in the virtual environment, it relies upon the user downloading the Second Life application, creating an avatar, and learning to navigate their way within the virtual world.  

AR, on the other hand, would allow someone to view a virtual representation on their screen like a funky, interactive TV program.  The application not only has the potential to bring to life products, but it can also be a fantastic opportunity to connect the user with your brand and create some viral appeal (if done successfully).

It also holds promise in the event environment, both on and off stage.  At a recent event we were demoing IBM’s WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance and were unable to ship the box to an event in Edinburgh the next day.  AR would have been a great way of showcasing this product on the stage.  And by creating a Direct Mail piece to give to the event attendees, we could have enabled people to illustrate the benefits of the product to people back in the office.

Let’s face it – hardware products aren’t particularly sexy, and software is impossible to visualise – suddenly there’s a way of delivering the features/functions/benefits of I.T. in a visual representation that’s impactful, interesting and engaging.  Done well, this could have fantastic branding benefits.

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