I won’t harp on at you about how the internet is always changing and the next social media platform is just around the corner, you already know that. But I will say this; reality and the digital world are about to collide - and in spectacular fashion.
That’s right folks, social media is about to get all Minority Report on you, as experts are predicting Augmented Reality, or AR, “a display in which simulated imagery, graphics, or symbology is superimposed on a view of the surrounding environment” (thanks www.emagin.com for your handy definition), is about to take off.
Keiichi Matsuda’s take on the future of Augmented (hyper)Reality: Domestic Robocop
If you’re not too sure what I’m talking about take a look at the advert for the Microsoft 7 Phone, where smart phone users are so fixated on their mobile phones that they keep bumping into each other. Although dramatised, the Microsoft ad is not too far from the truth. Augmented reality platforms, such as Layar, Wikitude and WorkSnug allow you to overlay digital information onto your reality through your smart phone camera, so you’ll be walking around viewing the world through a 3” screen in no time. It’s not hard to envisage that we’ll quickly see the integration of location based platforms like Foursquare and Facebook Places with AR applications. You’ll see Foursquare specials, directions to the nearest tube and restaurant tips appearing in your AR visual space, whilst getting status updates and business card info from strangers walking down the street.
It’s a neat little trick, which works by making use of a combination of hardware components found in smart phones, including a powerful CPU, GPS, solid state compass, tracking, camera and accelormeters, all enhancing your physical surroundings with extra information. The technology is not just cool, its useful too – speeding up the search for information and providing targeted data that is actually useful to you in the real world.
The founders of Metaio, Thomas Alt and Peter Meier, opened the September ‘InsideAR’ conference in Munich with the message that the technology has matured to the point that more and more practical applications are being implemented today in marketing and industry, “AR has definitely left the hype stage and is entering our daily life in many useful ways” – so social savvy businesses should start preparing now. AR space is much like outside marketing, there’s only so much billboard space to buy. The earlier you get in, the better. Businesses with a physical location should be creating a digital space to enhance their physical one and decide how best they can help their customers; whether they offer tips, discounts or reward loyal customers. Businesses who practice in the digital world should be thinking about how they can entice customers from the real world over to the digital world through AR.
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