Archive for August, 2009

Augmented reality, recently in experimentation mode and mocked at by many in the advertising industry as a gimmick, just grew up.

Layar is the first official augmented reality app, and guess what – it’s not available for the iPhone…yet. So I downloaded it onto my wife’s Android phone (thanks baby), and I am proud to say that the future is now folks. Augmented reality in mobile apps mark the beginning of something HUGE.

For the uninitiated, augmented reality (AR) is conceptually any technology that ties the real and virtual world’s together. For the mobile device, AR will utilize the built in GPS, compass and video camera, creating an unlimited potential to layer content onto any physical location in the real world.

This promo video from Layar and the video from Yelp below are great examples of the potential. I’m excited!

Yelp is officially the first iPhone application that supports augmented reality, however, it seems to be a hidden  feature in the app since it’s technically not supposed to be ready for prime time yet. If you have an iPhone 3Gs, download the Yelp app, shake the hone three times and the AR icon will appear. I know it sounds silly, but it’s actually kind of a cool way to unlock the feature. Really, I’m not trying to make a fool of you shaking your iPhone all about. Now you can point your iPhone at a restaurant and the reviews come up – sans searching. Did I mention this was going to be HUGE! Kudos for Yelp for implementing the perfect complimentary feature for their app early. They are going to kick butt with this.

And I think this is the first full fledge AR iPhone app, which is a version of the New York City subway map – outstanding!

Some examples of the first generation of AR application in marketing are sort of snoresville (except the Star Trek one, check that out below). There is definitely a novelty factor to it, but I don’t see these AR ads going very far. It’s just more of the same, with a twist – but still feeble attempts by marketers at getting consumers to care more about their ads versus providing experiences that consumers truly value. Here’s how it worked — A print ad or computer print out, is held up to your webcam (yes all of the existing marketing applications of AR require the use of your webcam), and you can then see and interact with a three dimensional advertisement on your screen. “Hey buy my stuff (in 3D)”

Here is an example of one of the Best Buy circulars that incorporated AR (you can also see more on the Best Buy in 3D website)


The GE Smart Grid ad (one of the first US-based AR ads) was more of a brand campaign and included a neat interactive component.

Super cool Star Trek Trailer (I’m not a Trekie, but totally geeked out on this one)

My buddy Adam Broitman’s new firm recently launched an AR game as a marketing asset for A&E Television’s Chris Angel. I like the application of AR in a game format. People want to play games, they don’t necessarily want to interact with advertising as much.

So there you have it folks. With the new mobile operating systems’ ability to handle this type of technology, we are about to witness an explosion of innovation that will benefit consumers and marketers alike. Think about it…any physical location, anywhere in the world can be layered with content (information, reviews, photos, videos, commerce).

 The future of augmented reality is now!

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Iidea_bulb‘ve been so busy with projects that I have actually let a month go by without posting to the DigitalBlur. I can’t believe it – shame on me! 

Therefore, after a bout of silence, maybe kicking off  with a fairly self-serving guest blog post is a little cheesy. But hey –  in this crazy fast paced and often thankless world we live in, it’s always nice to get some additional inspiration from the kind words of others.

Thanks to Tim McHale, Managing Editor of Madison Avenue Journal, for the (unsolicited) words of inspiration.

by Tim McHale

I’m compelled to shout from the rooftops about a career-enlightening moment, facilitated by Jason Heller.

I recently attended a social media marketing course led by Jason for Laredo Group. He was outstanding. It was like the perfect screen play.  Each line and/or action draws you into the story so quickly that you almost immediately experience a “Suspension of disbelief.”  The difference here though is that I experienced a “Suspension of belief.” The belief that I thought I knew almost everything I needed to know about social media, before I walked into the room.

When is the last time you did not step out of a conference room or event to take a phone call or catch your breath? When Jason announced we should take a 10 minute break, everyone around the room was almost like, “Oh, really? Why?” That is no joke.

At the end of the day I was speechless. Those who know me can vouch that is indeed a rare occasion, even when I sleep, or so my wife tells me.

In essence, the ultimate reason I found myself short on words was due to the fact that I had what you might call an “aha” moment. I wanted to savor it personally because it happens all too infrequently. Most insights we enjoy come about more gradually.

It was a paradigm change in how I view social media, and now, the media business overall. Did I know a lot about social media going in?  Yeah. But for me, what I walked away with was that all-too-rare sense of buoyancy, the feeling of being nimble, a Butch Cassidy quality that makes you smile and excited about what awaits you. You can’t put a price tag on that.

As consultants, sales people, agency execs and many reading this blog might agree, we make a living from sharing credible knowledge about the media business of yesterday, today and every so often, about tomorrow. For me, those who boast that they have the same level of confidence and insight into the future are kidding themselves.  Or at least that’s what I thought before the training.

Actually come to think of it, there was only one thing that really p-ssed me off; envious in fact. Heller not only has a full head of hair, he has a pony tail, no less!

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