Are We Ready for AR for the Masses?

By | February 17, 2016

This morning, I got to see a child experience AR in action. We had received one of those “everybody’s favorite” Easter gifts catalog, and in the center was a section on children’s outdoor toys. One of them had an invitation to scan to “watch the toy come to life” via AR.

My daughter and I launched the Layar app, scanned the page, and after a moment, a video popped up showing happy children surfing on this outdoor toy that looks like giant Pringle. Her eyes lit up. “Cool!” she said. After the video played, the viewer had the option to get more product info or view the entire product line on the manufacturer’s (not the cataloger’s) site.

Layar and SocksWhat was interesting to me was how natural it was. (Granted, I already had Layar on my phone, so there was no learning curve.) We were perusing the catalog, took out the phone, and watched the video. The AR app took us there directly — no interim browser — and it was a seamless experience. While we may think of AR as requiring complicated animation and programming, in this case, it was a simple 15-second video. Not out of reach of small businesses, especially with streamlined AR apps like Layar.

According to Layar, adding AR to a campaign is as easy as uploading your “page” (or an image of your direct mailer, postcard, or print ad), and adding content (such as a video you’ve taken on your iPhone) through the app, then testing and publishing. The power is in the templates and the programming behind the curtain. Much like creating an email newsletter using Marketo or Salesforce.com.

The “wow” isn’t in the complexity of the experience. It’s in the accessibility of the production.

As software developers make AR easier and less expensive to deploy, it will increasingly fall into the toolbox of smaller marketers. I’m not saying that QR Codes will go away—both will have their place—but for the last few years, AR has been considered out of reach of all but the largest marketers. Increasingly, that’s no longer the case. With today’s streamlined solutions, I am starting to be able to visualize AR even on short-run targeted campaigns.

It’s time for MSPs to start experimenting with AR technology. Many software developers (including The Blippar Group [which produces Layar]) offer free trials. In fact, I’m going to check it out myself.

Tune in next week for the results of my free trial.

 

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