Augmented Reality: Technology

Augmented Reality: Augmenting the World Around Us

Remember those maps in the Hollywood blockbuster Avatar or the computers Tom Cruise used in Minority Report? Those were nothing but augmented reality. Today, this technology has actually become a reality and already many retailers and big brand names, such as Lego, Mitsubishi and IKEA, are using augmented reality to enhance customer and user experience.

Augmenting the World

When it comes to augmented reality, many people are unsure what it entails. Basically, this technology superimposes audio, graphics and other sensory enhancements over real world environment. This superimposition takes place in real time.

While augmented reality may sound simple, it is a complex and advanced technology. Today, the technology is displaying graphics and audio just from one perspective, but as it advances, experts believe the display can be personalized to suit each viewer’s needs and requirements.

Lego has installed augmented reality in a few stores. If a toy is taken and placed in front of the camera, the child and parent can see what the toy will look like after it is assembled. Lego calls this the “nag factor”, as once a child sees the graphics of the toy displayed on the screen there is no way a parent can walk away without buying it for the child! It is believed augmented reality will help Lego boost its sales significantly and the company envisages having this technology in all its stores across the world.

Similarly, the 2013 catalogue of IKEA can be viewed using augmented reality. Viewers would need the app to check out the different products rather than see single dimension images of the products printed on the catalogue. This can personalise the buying experience for customers and make them more open to trying out different IKEA products.

Augmented Reality in India

India is not far behind in the use of augmented reality. In 2012, The Times of India Group launched an augmented reality app called Times Alive. This app allows Times of India readers to have a rich and personalized interaction with the print medium. Using the app, readers can access content, such as photographs, videos and even polls. This app is available for iOS, Android, Blackberry and Symbian. Once the app is downloaded and installed, readers have to scan the Alive logo and thereafter the app brings forth multimedia content onto the reader’s mobile phone screen.

When Bhoonath Returns hit the screen, it created waves because of legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan and the election-based theme of the movie. However, there was something else about the movie that was taking social media by storm – the ability to connect with the main protagonist, Bhoonath, using augmented reality. Fans had to download an app called Blippar on their smartphones and then “blipp” any movie image to connect with Bhoonath. Blippar uses image recognition and hides hidden content in the images which can be unlocked using the app and viewers can enjoy recipes, sweepstakes, coupons and videos. It also allows users to engage with a brand by playing games or posing with celebrities.

Future of Augmented Reality

The future of augmented reality is nothing but bright and beautiful. With retailers trying to woe customers, augmented reality will have a large role to play in the retail sector. However, the use of augmented reality is not just restricted to retail. It can be used in museums, navigation, medical science, education, construction, military, entertainment, engineering and much more.

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