Prime-Time for Augmented Reality

A recent AdAge artilce, starts off with the following question – Is augmented reality ready for prime-time?

Twentieth Century Fox, Coke and McDonalds are about to test the emerging technology’s mettle as a marketing tool to promote the Dec. 18 release of “Avatar,” the first live-action movie to be produced and released entirely in stereoscopic 3-D.

A couple of weeks ago, I had an opportunity to go to lunch with the guys at Total Immersion responsibile for the Avatar AR campaign, Bruno Uzzan and Greg Davis. At their office, I got a sneak peek at the AR enhanced AVTR Coke can, and checked out the Avatar Mattel Toys and i-Tag’s too. Clearly, the Avatar AR campaign is a significant milestone in what is truly the dawn of AR marketing.

The AdAge article asked – Will Efforts by Coke, McDonald’s to Plug Fox’s Much-Anticipated Movie Finally Take Nascent Tech Mainstream?

I respond to this question with the following comments…

I am excited to see this campaign come to life, and believe it represents the dawn of AR marketing in a big way… highlighting how mega brands and products will come to life with added engagement, and rich-media to further enhance the customer experience.

Today’s webcam campaigns are clearly more about the wow-factor of triggering holographic-like animations off of an everyday item. As we quickly move from glyph-like codes (i.e Esquire mag) to natural feature tracking (i.e branded logos). The evolution of hardware and software will only lead to more robust, compelling and informative marketing campaigns. And mobile… will change everything!

The power of mobile AR will truly revolutionize how marketing is done. Smartphones can be used to unlock a deeper / hidden layer of content tied to the people, places and things all around us. The power and potential of that cannot be denied. We are just getting started with AR marketing.

So, will efforts by Coke, McDonalds to plug Avatar take nascent tech mainstream? Absolutely! I would argue that these mega-brands and franchises are not rolling the dice on AR technology, but rather understand where this technology is headed, and the power that it brings. We should look to these mainstreams brands to realize the right time to step in is now.

Augmented Reality Comic Con

I just returned from Comic Con (my 15th year), where I was showing people our iPhone Augmented Reality demo (ogmento.com). I am happy to report that there is fantastic buzz on our application with lots of interest from the entertainment, gaming and publishing sectors. It’s clear many are ready now to take the AR plunge!

While I was walking the convention floor with our mobile AR demo, I was pleased to discover 2009 to be the first year AR was showing up at the convention.

Focus Features had an AR demo using a webcam for the movie “9” produced by Tim Burton. The poster for the movie is just a giant QR code, which will unlock the movie trailer. The AR demo had kids holding a postcard with a marker on the back in front of the webcam, and a static animated figure appeared.

Sony’s District 9 was also being promoted at Comic Con, and they have an AR exprience online promoting that movie too.

The most interesting official AR presentation was by Mattel, which introduced toys based on the movie “Avatar.” The toy line is being released with an augmented reality counterpart, as each toy comes with a 3D tag (i-Tag) which can be held under a webcam leading to an animated 3D vehicles coming alive on your computer. These vehicles can do battle as if you were playing a video game. Total Immersion developed this AR experience for Mattel, and they certainly are the reigning kings of the webcam-based experiences. The animations and audio were really nice, and the overall experience is a great bonus feature enhancement to the toy line.

I think this was the first entertainment convention where AR made a big splash. More and more people are now being introduced to Augmented Reality, and 2010 is looking to be a banner year as movie studios, toy companies and publishers begin to embrace the technology.