There used to be a clear line between the real physical world and the technology of “virtual reality.” But engineers and developers have been trying to merge the two realms for some time. Every other futuristic movie has some fusion of mind, body and tech to create the next-level reality. Until our brains actually become hardwired, smartphones and new applications are presenting the closest alternative.
Augmented reality (AR) is viewing the real and physical world but “augmented” or supplemented with computer-generated effects, graphics and/or sensory input. A simple example is preparing your digital camera for a picture. The frame of the shot, the date, a blinking red light, etc., can all appear over the actual image coming through the lens.
Marketers and advertisers are beginning to realize the power and originality of AR applications as billions of people own mobile devices and 86 percent of time spent on the Internet is done through Apps over the mobile web.
The Wikitude World Browser is a dominant AR browser that lets you point your smartphone at a city, building or area, and restaurant, travel, hotel and bar information will pop up on the screen.
Spec Trek is a game where you point your device at your surroundings and then track and eliminate ghosts. The creatures appear as you walk or drive.
Other AR apps let you place furniture in your home to see how it looks, turn your surroundings into a game mode where others can play with you and linking user reviews to landmarks as you pass by.
Advertisers are catching on quick. Jose Cuervo, for example, has a new AR app where if you view a bottle of their tequila with your mobile device, the bottle turns into animation and a history lesson.
The future of digital campaigns might just be AR.