When Apple launched the first version of its maps software, it left us all over place. Quite literally. So why did a company respected world-wide for its ferocious dedication to perfection, choose to launch a new product that felt....well a bit half finished? The simple truth is that they had to. To wait any longer would have handed Google an intolerable head start in what many think will be the next big thing to hit our digital lives. Augmented reality. So what is it? How does it work? why is it potentially so valuable? And most importantly, what effect might it have on the way in which places are marketed in the future?
Simply put, augmented reality is the enhancing of a real-life scene with additional information or imagery accessed by a piece of hardware. A smart phone, a tablet, or as current predictions indicate, a pair of special glasses. At its heart lies the powerful ability to geo locate the person accessing it. Down to an accuracy of a metre or so. And it's the combination of information pegged to location that Apple and indeed others believe is so valuable. Hence the reason why they have been so keen to rush out their own maps software. Because once you get this onto a consumer's device, the ways in which you then can leverage value from it are almost limitless.
For example, imagine walking down a street and being presented with a series of augmented reality posters outside shops. That are only visible to you, and highlight offers within each store, that you as an individual will most likely find attractive. What advertiser wouldn't relish the prospect of being able to deliver exactly the right message to you, at just the right time and indeed place?
In this broad context, the opportunities for any organisation or business seeking to market a place; to live, work, shop, stay, or visit are vast. For example, potential buyers at any new residential development, will be able to stand in front of the construction site, view it through their phone, tablet, glasses etc, and then see the building completed. And maybe also have the ability to view specific apartment numbers overlaid on the image, so that they can select exactly where in a building they might like to live.
For restaurant owners, hungry diners will be able to simply peer at an enhanced street scape, spot your restaurant, read the menu, know how many tables you have free, and then book one.
Museums and galleries will be able to offer you rich, detailed information on every exhibit, whilst you are looking it. And then maybe sell you a postcard or poster of it, long before you get tipped into the gift shop at the end of your visit.
Just like Apple, the businesses that will benefit fastest from this opportunity, will be those prepared to swiftly re-asses their current modus operandi. By exploring how best to leverage value for themselves, from what is undeniably going to be a seismic shift in the way in which customers access marketing messages.
However, to end on a reassuring note. Since its inception, the internet has often been accused of removing us from our everyday reality by creating a parallel digital world. So maybe it's rather nice to know that its next big impact, may simply be to enrich the reality we already have.
Totality creates augmented reality models for use on tablet devices. To see a 3D virtual model of Riverlight London created for St James, download this PDF and follow the instructions.
For details of how Totality can augment your marketing please contact Chris Abel