Sure, virtual reality is all the rage these days, having permeated everything from vehicle launches to pharmaceutical conferences. But what about its lesser known cohort, augmented reality? The technology, widely popularized in 2016 by the Pokémon Go craze, is carving out a place for itself in events thanks to savvy marketers who continue to find cutting-edge ways to bring the technology—and their brands—to life. Here’s six AR techniques that top companies are leveraging AR to build innovative brand experiences.
Wearables: The immersive AR experience can be compelling on many platforms, but the use of smartglasses makes it take on a whole new dimension. National Geographic stood out from the pack this year at SXSW with a tech-infused activation dubbed Further: Base Camp. The experience, which promoted “Genius,” the brand’s new television series about Albert Einstein, included an AR experience with the Microsoft Hololens, which showcased Einstein’s experiments through holograms of objects like fiery planets and speeding trains.
Unexpected Interventions: One of the many benefits of leveraging AR is that the technology can add a whole dimension of excitement to an otherwise average situation. It was a fact not lost on Disney Junior Asia, which staged an augmented reality stunt to immerse commuters in its “Magical Moments” campaign in Singapore. The brand converted a standard bus stop vestibule into its activation footprint featuring a live “poster.” Although the poster appeared transparent at first glance, those who kept their eyes peeled were soon met by AR versions of their favorite Disney characters, from Mickey Mouse to Simba to Sofia the First. Talk about magical.
X-Ray Vision: AR is also a great tool for presenting event attendees with something they might otherwise not be able to experience first-hand. Ford at this year’s North American International Auto Show leveraged the technology to give consumers a virtual peek under the hood of three of its vehicles, allowing attendees to see get a 3D ‘X-ray’ of the vehicles without actually stepping inside them. To boot, the brand displayed the AR footage in real time on a two-story, high-resolution LED screen behind the physical cars.
Virtual Incentives: In a unique twist on the typical application of AR, Hearst Magazines UK and “visual discovery” app maker Blippar teamed up to turn the Covent Garden shopping center into an augmented reality retail district. Launched during the holiday season, the installation aimed to help shoppers find the perfect presents and exclusive offers by offering AR beauty and fashion gift guides unique to the shopping center. The activation launched across Covent Garden’s one million square feet of space, with over 140 stores and restaurants participating. A highlight of the experience: using the Blippar app, attendees could watch a digital reindeer come to life and “fly” over their heads, creating a fun and immersive holiday shopping experience unrivaled by other retail destinations.
Gamification. Whether you’re a kid or just young at heart, everyone loves to play. To promote the reboot of the “Power Rangers” movie, Roadshow Films created the AR-based #RangerTraining activation game, which offered fans a chance to battle monsters and collect Ranger coins as if they were part of the team. The experience placed participants in a 3D training simulation where they could see themselves inside the Power Rangers world and follow along on an internal screen setup to see if they had what it takes to be a part of the crew. To boot, the activation was just the first time Roadshow utilized its exclusive AR platform, which will be leveraged to promote other films released throughout the year.
Combinations. Like many other technologies, AR techniques can have heightened results when used together. For their Confluence global thought leadership conference, data systems company Infosys partnered with Sparks to create an AR system that really showed off the practical applications of AR and big data. Called the ‘Digital Lens,’ the system used tablets enabled with Google’s AR platform, Tango. By holding the tablets up to different parts of the scale model landing gear from a 747 jet, attendees could see 3 stories of data overlaid visually on the actual object. The virtual data gave information about the condition of the equipment, predictive maintenance based on big data models, as well as virtual repair guide for technicians.