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Taking an Augmented Reality check

But was it actually anything like the real thing? I sincerely doubt it.

It reminded me somewhat of a sexy new medium that's attracting a lot of attention at the moment - Augmented Reality’. The term describes the use of technology to add digital information to a real-life experience. Perhaps the most familiar example is the heads-up display used in aircraft and some higher-end cars.

What’s more interesting is the recent introduction of more down-to-earth uses. When you see adverts overlaid on a pitch during a soccer match broadcast, for example, that’s Augmented Reality. Other uses are beginning to appear on mobile phones. For example, install the Layar app and point your phone camera at a location or venue, and the image will be overlaid with information about it. Or install Shazam and point your phone at any music broadcast, and the software will tell you what track is playing and who it’s by.

It all sounds very promising from a marketing point of view, but maybe we need an Augmented Reality Check here. The technology is still quite limited, and the user experience on everyday hardware is pretty poor. Do you really want to view the world through a 4” mobile screen?

The camera app is a clever gimmick, but it doesn’t really offer any advantage over Google Maps in terms of the information it provides. The level of adoption is dramatically lower, and likely to remain so.

Five years ago, the prediction was that every business would be able to advertise on the red button within five years. That great hope hasn’t materialised yet. So we probably shouldn’t get too excited about this new one, either. Marketing efforts are best targeted towards widely used media, without being distracted into new avenues that may turn out to be blind alleys.

Written by Bruce Townsend. Originally published at UTALK

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