Despite sounding like something from a sci-fi movie, Augmented Reality (or AR for those in the know), is already changing the way millions of people see and interact with the world.
Thanks to the ever increasing processing power of our smartphones, the technology – designed to recognise and understand images and physical objects in the real world and blend them with interactive content – is capable of delivering a truly augmented view of the world through the screen of our always at hand mobile devices.
And with Telefonica making AR accessible to thousands of brands and hundreds of millions of customers through one deal alone, it comes as no surprise that analysts predict the value of the mobile augmented reality market will grow to $600 billion by 2016.
While analyst predictions can sometimes seem like future gazing – something good to be aware of but too far away to act upon – AR is actually already a fundamental part of many global brands’ marketing strategy, including companies like Tesco, Universal Music and Condé Nast.
They are using AR to create a variety of customer journeys – changing the in-store experience; embedding digital content onto their products; and delivering rich interactive content through print. But one common theme unites them all – each brand is using AR to put mobile where it belongs, right at the heart of the marketing mix.
And now harnessing the power of AR to reach customers is even easier, thanks to Telefonica Digital integrating our AR platform, Aurasma, into its media services offering and taking our technology to 300 million customers around the world, starting with O2 in the UK.
This is quite simply the biggest deal the AR space has ever seen and it gives brands an unprecedented opportunity to blend augmented reality with other mobile services offered by Telefonica Digital, such as location based services and mobile couponing.
But it’s not just brands benefitting from the new initiative. At the heart of the AR world is the user experience.
From a user’s perspective, AR is adding an extra dimension to our lives. It has an almost limitless potential to refresh our take on everyday things by updating them for our digital age. From drinks bottles and food packaging to stamps, flyers and magazines, the things we engage with on a day to day basis can now be augmented with a digital layer that allows us to look at them and use them in an entirely new, more engaging way.
So, what does the future hold for AR? Well, at Aurasma we are showing that AR is about more than just mobile advertising. At its core, Aurasma is about changing the way people see and interact with digital information of all kinds. From advertising to art, from healthcare to education, Aurasma is providing a new way to see, create, publish and share content – not siloed on a website but integrated into the real world.
The AR sector is already booming as companies seek new, better ways to capitalise on mobile. We believe that soon using a mobile device to view AR content will become as common as visiting a website is today and it’s great to be working with Telefonica, making this change happen.