Opinion: Augmenting the reality of events
We are now familiar with the concept of Virtual Reality (VR), where the real world is replaced by a simulated one. But the lesser known technology known as Augmented Reality (AR) remains an untapped goldmine of marketing potential. In fact, AR is still often confused with QR scanning by many Smartphone users.
AR is a live, real-time perspective on the real physical environment which has been amplified by a range of digitised sensory inputs including sound, video, graphics or location-based data. In AR, a computer or processor (such as those found in handheld devices and the more advanced smartphones), modifies one's view of the real world by "augmenting" it with digitised content and extensions.
AR serves to enhance the user's current perception of reality in a way which informs, excites, stimulates and immerses the viewer in a heightened sensory and informational experience.
The possibilities of new AR techniques to the marketing and events industry are immense and it will be leveraged as a powerful platform in no time. There are already several platforms available to implement AR, with mobile solutions most commonly used. This is followed by Kiosk, the web, as well as event-related installations of AR.
AR brings significant benefits to events. The recent Cybertron-Con 2012 Transformers fan event in Singapore juxtaposed live human interaction with AR digitised animation in a novel and entertaining way. And at the recent Danone International Medical Symposium in Istanbul, Turkey, AR was also deployed as an active layer of information overlay in a flat panel exhibition.
Here is another example: You are watching the big Cup match live at the stadium. You hold up your phone to your football ticket and the phone displays information such as a player's match history and scored goals on your screen.
AR can stretch the "shelf-life" for an event. For example, event delegates are able to take home a piece of the event, such as a memento. All delegates have to do is point their mobile devices to the memento they've gotten from an event to retrieve post-event updates such as tracking results in the form of a video speech or presentation.
Apart from events, the European publishing business is already onboard with AR technology. The German magazine STERN, for example, features an AR function in which readers scan their handheld devices across each page to gain access to additional information. Graphics also spring vividly to life, while live video plays in a sidebar next to the text-based article. This truly marks the crossover and hybridisation from print publishing to live broadcasting and I believe hardware-based browsing devices will eventually revolutionise the publishing industry by forcing greater convergence with digital publishing.
AR is, without question, becoming more relevant in several industries especially as handheld devices are becoming more portable and seamless in their data processing capabilities. This new paradigm will give rise to an entirely new creative sector within the marketing industry, which will cater to these new mobile AR applications.
You will see the rise of AR specialist agencies skilled in bringing a different impact to reality through a wealth of augmented sight, sound and sensory feedback. AR will soon revolutionise the way we look at the physical world, be it via two-dimensional print materials or the three-dimensional world.
Donald Lim is the CEO of experiential media agency Digimagic.
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- Digimagic Communications