Augmented Reality: New King of the Cool Tech Hotlist

So, what’s our latest cool technology infatuation, you ask? Well, Projection Mapping and Kinect Hacking are certainly getting wide spread use, and Instagram too. However, the one that’s been getting the most buzz—and is already starting to deliver the goods for our clients—is augmented reality.

Augmented reality(AR) is the art of super-imposing computer-generated content over the onscreen view of something through a camera-equipped smart phone or tablet. Specifically, augmented reality connects 3D models with printed materials, similar to the popular Nintendo 3DS gaming system. One part entertainment, one part service, this free app can tell a product’s story in a fun, creative and educational way. There are tons of potential uses for it, such as letting consumers see realistic 3D projections of products before they purchase them. This hands-on experience truly engages the consumer with the product, bringing it to life and, in many cases, bringing out their inner child.

Several B+L clients are now using augmented reality. Pentair recently dove into the world of AR to introduce a high tech, environmentally friendly electronic water purification system. Augmented reality played a key role in the “soft launch” of this technology at the world’s largest water industry trade show, Aquatech Amsterdam. Used to virtually demonstrate the technological inner workings of non-operational product models in the trade show booth, the app was a major hit, and is currently being adapted for use by Pentair—and a new industry partner—at coming shows in the US.

Augmented reality is equally suited for consumer applications. For example, the cover of the 2012 Wisconsin Dells Vacation Guide, as viewed through an AR-enabled smart phone or tablet with camera, will become a 3D interactive space with videos and links to the Dells VCB’s mobile website as well as to a more robust, digital version of the guide itself.

In our opinion, these examples are just the tip of the AR iceberg. Though it may be derived from consumer video games, the potential business applications of this technology cuts across almost all categories, from the most technical of B-to-B marketing to the most family oriented of consumer campaigns. It’s a safe bet that augmented reality won’t lose its place on B+L’s “cool tech” hotlist any time soon.