Monday, 8 June 2009

Let's get a little Sci-Fi

Hello again! I hope you liked my first entry, it seems so long ago. Now, I thought I'd give you a little content to get this thing started - you know, a video or link or two, rather than just a ranting about myself. So here we go, the topic today is 'Augmented Reality'. For those of you who haven't encountered it yet, its where a camera/webcam recognizes a specified shape and adds graphics to it - it augments what it sees. So for this to work, the home user has to print out a sheet of paper with an emblem on it, hold it up in front of their webcam, and move it round to manipulate the 3D object in front of them. Here's an example that should bring it to life from Citroen, the car manufacturer:

Now, the obvious problem is the time it takes for a user to understand the process... its slight barrier between the user and actually getting to the ad itself. But if/when the somewhat cumbersome, sci-fi-esque term 'augmented reality' comes in to common use, this barrier should become less of a problem. But then there's the inevitable second issue... the novelty of this technology, when put to advertising purposes, will quickly wear off. That's when people will have to start getting creative with it... but in space as cramped as a home-user's webcam screen... is there room for much more? My desk already looks cluttered with a Citroen C3 - Picasso parked up on it. To be honest, I don't wanna stick my neck out on this one - we'll have to see how things progress. 

However, though advertising might struggle to make full use of this technology's potential, there are other areas in which 'augmented reality' really looks promising. Take this example from BMW... a camera recognizes the parts of the car engine, and highlights those which you need to take out/move in order to repair your car. Its a very clear, hands on instruction manual! And in this example, Priority Mail obviously benefit from enabling their customers to gauge the product's size. 

Of course, with the BMW example, you need to have 3D glasses - obviously very expensive, but perhaps something worth buying when enough applications are made available/uploadable to the same pair of glasses. And of course, with the Priority Mail example, you could just use a ruler to find out how big your box needs to be. Maybe more people have a printer and webcam these days than they do a ruler, I don't know! Either way, I imagine that in the majority of cases, there is a more cost effective, 'paper based' / 'common sense' alternative to using 'augmented reality', but while the wow factor is still there, it does seem to be something that many industries can take advantage of. Only question is... how long will it last?

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