As we draw towards the end of the year, I start to look back and reflect what the biggest technological impact this year has offered us. I think, and many would argue with me, the answer is easy. Augmented Reality.
What is AR and how is it different to VR?
This is a reasonable question and it catches a few people out. 2016 seems to be the ‘Reality’ year or the ‘Non-Reality’ year which is probably more accurate.
Virtual Reality (VR)
I believe that more people probably understand what VR is compared to AR, even though you’re probably less likely to have used VR. Virtual Reality is a means of immersing yourself into a
digital world. Usually this is through the use of a Virtual Reality headset, such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or Google Cardboard.
In most cases VR equipment is very expensive, however to get a little taste of what VR can do and if you’d like to experience it. I highly recommend getting yourself (or even make one) a Google Cardboard headset. All you need is a compatible smartphone (which is most modern smartphones) and you will be able to experience a slimmed down version of virtual reality and gain a sense of it’s potential. For example with an excellent 360 YouTube video from Red Bull you can pretend to be driving a formula one racing car.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented Reality is a little more difficult to explain. In fact, if you were to simply Google it and see Wikipedia definition, you would find this;
AR is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.
Which probably makes little to no sense to most people, therefore I shall use the example that we are
all mostly aware of. Pokemon Go.
You may have heard of the craze that swept the world this summer and the reason it was so revolutionary was it’s use of Augmented Reality. It used the real world as it’s ‘playing ground’, using the phones GPS, and used real life objects and buildings as part of the game play experience. It then supplements computer-generated Pokemon into the “world” for us to catch. In simple terms, augmented reality, is a hybrid of reality and virtual reality.
You see augmented reality probably more than you think such as live sports on television, when for example a digital line is displayed across an Olympic pool to show you, the viewer, where world record speed position would have been.
Is there AR Digital Marketing?
Not yet, mostly because the use of AR is quite limited at the moment. There are still a number of problems that come with using AR software. Look at how much your smartphone battery life went down while you were playing Pokemon Go. Simply because in order to feed the game all the data it needed, it required to make full use of your smartphones; GPS, Internet, Graphics Chip, Memory, Gyroscope, Accelerometer. However the technology is getting better and battery life in general is improving.
The possibilities of this technology is really endless, however I believe the beauty of it comes from how it could be so easily integrated into how we currently do things;
I often find myself in a place which I don’t know very well, and I might be looking for a spot of lunch. Today I would generally pick my phone out of my pocket and and do a search for “Latchford Lunch” or “Latchford Cafe” for example. I could find a great place to have a lunch with some high Google reviews or Yelp reviews, only to see that it is an half-hour walk away. Which is really too far for spot of lunch in a place I don’t know very well.
However, how about I could just get my phone out and with my camera scan across my line of sight to see what is nearest to me. On top of this would appear some of the latest Google Reviews about the places that I’m looking at or even some tweet people have posted about this particular cafe for example. The possibilities for argumentation of all the possible data about these places and what people have been saying about them from Yelp, Yell, Google+, Facebook Places, Instagram the list goes on and on.
Couple this with the new advances with voice search, in a recent Google Announcement the news was stolen by Googles new Pixel phone, however Google also announced a development of their Artificial Intelligence system Google Assistant (previously Google Now), a more intelligent version of the iPhone “Siri” function. You could tell your phone to scan the area around you and to display the near by tweets or the nearby reviews.
Perhaps I’m getting a little ahead of myself. As all of these technologies are in their infancy and it will take time to refine them to make the mass products. Judging by the failure of Google Glass, we know now that Google won’t fully launch into developing these ideas before knowing for sure the technology is there first.
However, if it was to come and I’m sure one day it will, we may be forced to optimise the way in which our businesses physical world and virtual world interact with each other to display the appropriate information to the user.
Is it the future of Digital Marketing?
I’d like to think that AR is somewhere in our future, it’s uses in gaming and social areas is plain to see however the cross over into marketing is more difficult to comprehend. Although the technology itself is impressive, much like the game that made it popular, Pokemon Go, could it be anything more than a passing fad? That all depends about how users wish to interact with their devices in the future and perhaps it will take other technological advances like the Google Glass experiments to make it a more feasible opportunity. Our current solution to local search is more effective than changing habits of users, to something which does the same but in a ‘prettier’ way.
That is not to say that AR will not have it’s uses, there is so much potential in its use in retail, in fact many are being trailed or are in use right now.