Augmented Reality – How It Works

September 15, 2010

Augmented Reality Links the Real and Virtual Worlds

For those who haven’t yet encountered augmented reality, it is, in a way, a form of magic. Or so it seems when you first see it.

Augmented reality forms a bridge between the ‘real’ and the ‘virtual’ world by using a printed item, a face, or another trigger to open up a video experience, a 3D animation or some other form of presentation.

Let me give you an example, and as this blog is devoted to business to business marketing rather than business to consumer, I’ll take an example from this area.

You are launching a new printing machine which will shorten print times by a third and use 25% less ink. A 3D animation of your new machine is produced and stored in a computer built into your exhibition display pod. A webcam is attached to the display pod as well. When one of your potential customers holds a brochure up to the webcam, they see the screen transform and the area occupied by an image of the brochure becomes a box that displays the 3D animation. It makes the customer feel pretty special as people can only see the animation by holding up the brochure. As the customer walks away with the brochure, the 3D animation disappears.

Another example of the power of augmented reality is facial recognition. Imagine that, instead of a brochure, the webcam viewed your image and then placed a mask onto your face or a hat on your head. All of this is possible too: augmented reality has been used by Paramount to promote Transformers 2 and, by placing a sorting hat onto the heads of children at a book signing, it has brought the Harry Potter books to a new dimension.

Crossplatform is a leading augmented reality company based in London. I have to declare an interest as I have the good fortune to represent them as their Marketing Director,  however, I hope that you find this story of interest in its own right. The company is working on a number of publishing promotions, where the cover and various pages of the magazine act as a trigger for additional editorial content, competitions and advertisements. It’s such an interesting example of how print is leaving the peripheries to become a trigger for a digital experience. Watch this space as augmented reality technology moves on apace and gives us an even richer range of experiences. I’ll keep you posted.