I think we can all agree that reality is pretty nice and I think we can more than agree that computers and the internet where one of the most important inventions in the last years. Not only have we access to huge amounts of data, but we are also able to communicate with people all over the world and very important as well, make money and set up one’s own business.
But can we make reality and the internet work together? Can we use the latest technology to broaden our senses and find new exciting ways to establish new companies and new ways to make money?
This is where augmented reality comes into appearance.
But what is augmented reality and how can we benefit from this new hot application?
Let’s first take a look at this beautiful YouTube video explained by CommonCraft who are doing an awesome job of explaining what augmented reality is.
Now we know that augmented reality (the abbreviation being AR) means that we have a picture or video of the real world on a screen, where some elements are computer-generated and afterwards put into the picture or video. This all happens in real time and the inputs are said to be ‘augmented’. I got interested in the term and wanted to know more about the origins, since ‘augmented’ actually just means ‘getting larger’ and nothing else.
I learnt that the person who coined the term in 1990 was Tom Caudell, a researcher at aircraft manufacturer Boeing. He used the term to describe the head-up-display helmets the workers were using to built and connect wires in planes.
From the video by CommonCraft, we learnt that to use augmented reality on a smartphone, one would need to have a smartphone (of course) with a camera, internet connection and augmented reality software to process the data.
Then, we are told that we can use it to compare prices, get information about buildings, get the address of the best restaurant in town and so on. Also, one can use it for advertisements and for example marketing a movie. (video example of marketing of movie District 9 )
However, I wanted to know more about companies which are invested in creating such applications and therefore, I searched for ‘monetizing augmented reality’ on Google.
I found several companies that provide applications for smartphones, including those apps, where augmented reality is used to enhance the experience. Now, I want to give you some examples, but please feel free to show me others as well.
To get to enjoy augmented reality one should rely on Total Immersion, a software solution provider which has researched augmented reality since 1999. Total Immersion is global leader in Augmented Reality Solutions and it developed an Augmented Reality Platform called D’Fusion which enables users to design AR applications and to deploy theses apps in various platforms.
Layar is another one the new emerging companies in the wake of augmented reality. It was founded in Amsterdam in 2009. The company has created a mobile browser which is called Layar and which enables users to search for various items when using augmented reality applications.
Take a look at this video, to see what Layar is all about:
However, now I wanted to know what other people think about augmented reality and the ways it can create profit, so I searched for recent opinions.
Matthew Szymczyk, who is the CEO and founder of Zugara, an interactive marketing agency that consults Fortune 500 brands on their strategic utilisation of emerging media and technology argues that despite augmented reality being very fresh, interesting and unique, there are no statistics that show that AR can improve marketing or improve decision making. Also, he tells us that according to Venture Capital firms in the US, AR has the air of being only an academic toy and has yet to reach an interesting stage where real business is possible. (source)
From this blog entry, I followed a link to an article by Justin Montgomery about the company Layar which wants to create single layers which will give additional information about sight, museums etc and which can be purchased online.
Therefore, it is shown that despite of general opinion of AR being to young for business, it is possible to make money with it.
Furthermore, I found a blog by Robert Rice, who is a recognized world leader and pioneer for the commercialisation of mobile augmented reality. In his opinion, by 2012 augmented reality based applications will have generated more than $1 billion and it will most likely help to recover from the financial depression, however, he says that mass media will completely fail in using AR. (source)
I personally think that everybody thought the internet to be something totally crazy but as we have experienced in the last ten years, its impact is huge and nobody wants to live without it. Therefore, why should augmented reality be any different? I think that people had enough time to create AR as an exciting tool to improve marketing and the way we see our world.
Tell me what you think!
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PS: Maybe I’m so positive because I’m a huge Star Trek Nerd. In Star Trek: The Next Generation they have a so-called holodeck on board of the starship Enterprise (video) which enables users to create their own virtual reality. In this scene one of the shy crew member is finally admitting to himself that he needs to stop using the Holodeck to interact with people, but to shut it down. (If you’re interested in random information, you’ll be delighted to know that I personally sat in the original Captain’s chair of this scene. The bridge is currently on display in the Filmpark Babelsberg Star Trek exhibition.)