So what is Augmented Reality all about?

by David Turnbull > Technology > Marketing

A definition of augmented reality I quite like is ‘Augmented Reality is future technology for the now’.

image of AR experience

Augmented Reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. Augmentation is conventionally in real-time and in semantic context with environmental elements, such as sports scores on TV during a match. With the help of advanced AR technology (e.g. adding computer vision and object recognition) the information about the surrounding real world of the user becomes interactive and digitally manipulable. Artificial information about the environment and its objects can be overlaid on the real world.

There are three categories of AR currently defined:

  • AR 3D Viewers are typically used to place 3D models in your environment. This is typically used for advertising, whereby a user views a printed item via smartphone or tablet camera and sees a 3D rendering in it’s place. This might also be animated and include audio.
  • AR Browsers enrich your smartphone or tablet camera feed with contextual information. For example, you can point your smartphone camera at an object (building, landmark etc.) and a display of information will be seen. A good example of this is the FlightTracker24 app. You can point your smartphone camera at an aircraft (in the sky!) and it will display where that plain has come from and going to, what type of plain it is, flight number etc. The new train spotting!
  • AR Games create immersive gaming experiences. For example shooting zombies walking in your own bedroom! The use of headset goggles is typical.

Sounds like a gimmick? – perhaps it is without imagination!

However, I don’t see it that way. There is huge potential for AR in communicating and engaging consumers with business concepts, product development, marketing strategies, education etc.

AR is perhaps the next big digital experience.

  • Architects are using AR to show CAD visualisation of conceptual building developments.
  • Product developers are using AR to view mock-up products in situ.
  • Advertising agencies are using AR to engage audiences
  • Marketing professionals are using AR to present information in a more accessible and interesting manner.
  • Educationalists are using AR to demonstrate complex 3D modelling.

Suzuki has become the first motorcycle manufacturer to use augmented reality in creating a digital experience for V-Strom 1000 buyers. The app which is available for iOS devices (an Android version is soon to follow) allows users to have a full 3D view of the motorcycle. Users can then select colours and play around with the bike’s options list.

image of Suzuki AR

Downloading and using the app will also give you the opportunity to win a Suzuki ‘Spirited’ hood and a classically styled Paris-Dakar t-shirt. You also get the chance to win a V-Strom 1000 branded t-shirt, watch, mug, key ring, and cap from Suzuki’s 2014 clothing range. All you have to do is take pictures and screenshots of the virtual V-Strom 1000 in the most creative places you can find.

NEC have developed an AR app to turn a persons arm into a keyboard…

image NEC AR keyboard

Acknowledgement: David Malan (photography); Suziki article – 30npire.com

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