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Trends In Augmented Reality: A Reality Check

Although augmented reality seems like the industry’s newest buzzword, it is by no means a new technology. Invented in 1968, augmented reality was confined to laboratories for over a decade primarily because it was too big, bulky, and expensive to bring to the general public. Hardware technologies have advanced and mobile software has become more sophisticated over the years, and augmented reality now has its place in today’s global consumer marketplace.

InfoTrends defines augmented reality as “providing a live, direct, or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are augmented by virtual, computer-generated imagery.” According to InfoTrends’ research on media trends in 2013, 41.5% of consumers had interacted with augmented reality two to five times during the previous year. With the proliferation of mobile technology, the number of consumer interactions will likely grow as augmented reality further establishes its presence in applications beyond marketing and gamification.

frequency-ar-graph.pngAugmented reality began to become more common as a consumer application back in 2009, when Apple opened up its application programing interface (API) to developers on its iPhone. This trend soon carried over to Android phones, and the developments started pouring in. When it was first released to the public, augmented reality was seen as a fad technology or a gimmicky marketing technique, but augmented reality is far more complex than overlaying a 3D image onto the physical world. Augmented reality’s reach has expanded to hardware, software, application services, and end-user case studies.

A compelling webinar entitled A Reality Check: Augmented Reality was presented by Printing Impressions and Target Marketing and sponsored by Canon Solutions America. This webinar was moderated by Barb Pellow (Group Director at InfoTrends), and speakers included Martin Ahe (Partnerships Manager at Layar) and Debora Haskel (Vice President of Marketing at IWCO Direct). To kick off the webinar, Pellow covered the top five augmented reality trends for marketers and print service providers. According to Pellow, this eye-opening application means just one thing—it’s time to pay attention! According to Juniper Research, more than 2.5 billion augmented reality apps will be downloaded by 2017.

layar-demo.pngFounded in the summer of 2009, Layar quickly gained international attention as one of the first mobile augmented reality browsers to hit the market. With an open development platform, the company attracted thousands of developers from all around the world to create AR content. Layar ultimately became the world’s most popular platform for augmented reality and a global interactive printing leader. Now part of the Blippar group, Layar is helping to bridge the gap between the print and digital worlds. During the webinar, guest speaker Martin Ahe presented numerous examples of AR technology, from catalogs to editorial content to promotional applications. Ahe proclaims, “We typically see conversions of 2% to 5% reader engagement, as well as an 87% click-through rate.”

Following Ahe’s use cases and technology overview, Debora Haskel of IWCO outlined her AR implementation experiences as a service provider that is leveraging AR for marketers. Haskel shared an example of an augmented reality welcome kit that her company created for Best Western. She explained, “Hotel loyalty program members can be very fickle, so one of Best Western’s primary challenges was determining how to generate greater engagement among members.”

Direct marketers are still learning how to incorporate augmented reality into their media mixes, so Haskel outlined a few of the lessons that she learned to help others launch their own AR campaigns for clients. She noted, “Customers struggle with how to use AR technology. Since you can do so much with it, you really need to focus on developing content and determining the appropriate actions for use.”

Pellow, Ahe, and Haskel had much more to say on the subject, so be sure to check out this on-demand webinar for more advice. This webinar is perfect for marketers and print service providers who are ready to take the next step for interactive print with augmented reality!