23 May 2008

Augmented Reality - a whole new world of possibilities

Totally blown away by something called Augmented Reality. Put simply, it allows you to see a real world environment supplemented by 3-dimensional video objects; a significant advancement on the blue screen concept that has been used in the movies for years.

To get a feel for what I am talking about, first watch this video of Radio 1's Big Weekend email. Those people who didn't get tickets to their free festival were given a link to experience one of the bands in their own home. "Band in Your Hand" allows you to watch The Fratellis in 3-D in the palm of your hand, and as you move it around, it follows you.



Then some research led me to a company called Total Immersion who have been playing with this technology successfully for a number of years. Their presentation of the possibilities at Demo 07 conference is mind blowing.



The possibilities are endless. As I did some more digging I found sites that talk about everything from a real-world talking guide, advanced children's books and surgeons being able to see ultrasounds of organs on top of the real organ they are operating on.

I have blogged a lot lately about the consumers shift to demanding a visually interactive experience, with everything from Microsoft Surface, Microsoft Photosynth and the beta of SearchMe, and this is another example of how technology will facilitate this shift.

As head of display for iCrossing I am looking for the ways in which this transition in user behaviour will open up new ways to do advertising, and the ideas are only limited by our imaginations.

eg1. Imagine being stood on the platform waiting for your train and you see a poster promoting a band you like - simply turn on the camera on your phone, point it at the poster and see a full 3D audio-visual clip of their headline track on the screen.

eg2. Newspaper advertising will come to life in front of you.

eg3. Walk into a travel agents and pick up a brochure; watch consumer videos of the hotels you are considering on your phone in your own home, event triggered by the images in the brochure.

Do you remember when microphones and headsets first appeared for mobile phones? I remember thinking it very strange watching someone walk down the street seemingly talking to themselves but actually holding a conversation through the joys of mobile and bluetooth. And now it has become accepted as normal (although I still refuse to use one!).

Well take that a step on. Place this technology in glasses and people will be walking down the street experiencing an augmented reality of their very own full of visual stimulus. A world of their own that is invisible to the rest of us.

These changes will impact search and advertising, as well as have wide ranging implications for the travel and entertainment industries.

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