Augmented Reality Bridges the Gap Between the Virtual and Physical Worlds
This type of Augmented Reality we are most familiar with involves overlaying digitally generated graphics onto the real world. This uses simple technologies within the phone; camera, screen, accelerometer and sometimes GPS to add another layer.
What appears to be the most successful (and simple) form of Augmented Reality for entertainment, is the Pokémon Go app; it encouraged users to explore their surroundings through location based tasks, all the while capturing and battling augmented Pokémon through the screen of their phone.
Not only did the game generate over 100 million downloads1 on Google play alone, but with over 20 million2 active users a day. This in turn, generated over 500 million3 visits to sponsored locations across the globe. This location sponsorship, for those not familiar, allowed Starbucks and other retail centres (for a sponsorship fee) make their store locations of interest within the game (e.g. you are only able to trade Pokémon within 500m of a turmeric macchiato outlet.
Whilst we may not see Pokémon Go levels of engagement for phone based AR gaming in the coming years, it highlights the levels of engagement that Augmented Reality can bring and the potential for integration to traditionally audio visual rich environments. Especially when most of us carry around at least one smartphone…
So, to bring the conversation to audio visual …by no means is AR a replacement (or meant to be) for physical audio-visual installations, but when used in conjunction with existing infrastructure, the ideas can get interesting.
An example of this development that highlights the potential, is growing talk of having AR applications, based on visitor’s phones, being used to encourage interaction and site management at large visitor centres and theme parks4.
Two examples of using AR in these environments are:
- Having overlaid information on triggers e.g. when patrons point their phone camera at posters, information overlays will be generated - displaying a variety of information, tailored to that individual based on information taken from their device.
- Using the same application to monitor a guest’s location, rides they have visited, and busy areas within a park (alongside other variables), to suggest a shop for them to visit or a quieter part of the park to explore.
Whilst most of the focus is on uses within the leisure world, there are endless uses for Augmented Reality within the corporate and business environments;
- Phone based office guides to allow workers to find available hot desks.
- Smart signage for meeting rooms and building guides being Augmented Reality /phone based.
- Using Augmented Reality as a sales tool to visualize products and designs – such as the ‘View In a Room’ - where users can see augmented furniture in their office.
With little need for the updating of infrastructure (as the IT infrastructure of mobile phones already exists within a workplace), the outsourcing of app development and the cost savings areas from the efficiency Augmented Reality can bring, it bears the question - will Augmented Reality pay for itself?
Alongside the question of ROI, the next hurdle Augmented Reality will face, is defeating the stigma surrounding any acronym based technology. A stigma that has been partially fuelled by the over hyping of virtual-reality in the media, disappointing many.
The reason I believe Pokémon Go has been so successful, was because users are not cut off from their surroundings - it lowers (but doesn’t completely remove) the barriers within the new reality.
And that seems to be the attitude that makes a successful technology - that users should be able to seamlessly integrate AR into their life in any environment, as with AV, otherwise it can be seen to have failed its purpose.
To talk to one of our specialist on how you could use AR in your entertainment or corporate environment email: firstname.lastname@example.org
 Artyom Dogtiev, December 2017, http://www.businessofapps.com/data/pokemon-go-statistics/
2 Artyom Dogtiev, December 2017, http://www.businessofapps.com/data/pokemon-go-statistics/
3 Craig Smith, January 2018, https://expandedramblings.com/index.php/pokemon-go-statistics/
4 Emma Boyle, March 2017, http://www.techradar.com/news/disney-is-looking-to-add-ar-technology-to-its-theme-parks
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