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Augmented Reality In Social Applications

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9 Monday, October 5th, 2009

Game On

Augmented reality (AR) is a developing technology that overlays computer-generated graphics onto a real image or video. The most popular example of AR is the yellow First Down line on televised football games. We’ve also seen it in rotating billboard displays on soccer and baseball, and briefly, the trailing comet tail to help hockey fans keep their eye on the puck.

Zugara, an interactive agency, experimented with online augmented reality in a couple notable online applications. The Webcam Social Shopper is a virtual fitting room that lets people see themselves in clothing before they buy. It also uses motion capture so a person can navigate the online store by moving their hands rather than stepping up to the keyboard.

They followed up with Cannonballz, a game utilizing a person’s web camera and Facebook Connect so the player becomes part of the action.

Oddcast has a simple AR demo. Just print the unique badge and display it in front of your webcam to bring an animated rocker to life. SekaiCamera is making strides in mobile AR as well; this video from LOEWE Tokyo offers a glimpse.

Location-Based Social Captioning

Layar is a Dutch-made program that enables people to leave comments on images captured by their mobile device. The app uses 3D technology to gauge distances as well as the phone’s compass and GPS or cell tower triangulation. Then, computing all this information on the fly, the real image can be geotargeted so that other people can read the comments and post their own.

People have already demonstrated a desire to share their opinions specifically. Check the level of user engagement in places like Viddler in-play video comments, Yelp reviews and the tips, reviews & crowdsourcing features of contextual location-based apps like FourSquare, Gowalla, BrightKite, Navizon and Waze.

Social captioning seems like a natural evolution of AR. With advanced filtering and administrative control, I can imagine a number of recreational and commercial uses for this kind of application.

  • Ratings & reviews Restaurants, bars, local retail
  • Visitor attractions City walking tours, Architectural and historical tours, ghost & event tours, sports & convert venues
  • Real estate Listings, property details and contact info
  • Scavenger hunts For fun & education, geocaching
  • Amusement parks Maps, games and awards
  • Convention exhibition Product interaction, marketing challenges
  • Product testing & consumer feedback Large area or ticket items
  • TV/Film Scene caption games, reviews
  • Municipal services Emergency response, crime scene investigations, water & gas line mapping
  • And more… Education, healthcare, transportation, shipping, traffic & weather, social communities, I could go on.

Layar recently won the Vodafone Mobile Clicks start-up challenge with a €75.000 prize. Here is the presentation they used in their pitch.

To see who is experimenting and applying augmented reality to the real world, visit the AR Consortium.

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8 Comments For This Post

  1. Shannon Swenson

    My friend Daniel Russ at Nice Monster mentioned an AR tool on Bruce Sterling’s Beyond the Beyond blog. Another great example – imagine this with team collaboration.


  2. Shannon Swenson

    John Monterubio from Oddcast emailed me to share a recent post on their blog w/ more AR examples.


    One of the sites they feature is TalkTalk, a site that let’s people draw using any light source, such as a cell phone. Check it:


  3. Ryan

    Another cool and recent example of AR, this time used in a rich media banner, check out this Burger King ad that uses a $1 bill versus your traditional glyph and even has an Easter egg built in once you flip the bill over a few times!


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    Nice looking blog, might I ask you what template you are running and how much it costs? I’ve been using free ones but can’t find one that I really like.

  5. Shannon Swenson

    @play_wiibrew I bought a premium template called VibrantCMS from WooThemes and hacked it up. Thank you very much for your feedback!

  6. Shannon Swenson

    The Mass Ideation blog posted a another example of AR used with the NYC Subway. They believe the acrossair iPhone app is leading the pack of AR browsers.

    Here’s a YouTube demo

  7. Shannon Swenson

    Tissot extended their AR app to an interactive display for watches at the flagship Selfridges store in London. Glad to see AR used in direct merchandising.

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About Me

I am an executive-level interactive producer specializing in social media, online community management and buzz marketing for national accounts. I provide agency support & client service across multiple industries. I love integrated campaign strategy, working with creative teams, kicking-off projects and driving them through launch.

I am currently working at Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.

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Left Brain
SEO, media strategy, web analytics, web application architecture, server architecture, e-commerce platforms, data modeling
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SEM, creative strategy, social media, community management, WOM / buzz marketing, online memes, online brand stewardship

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Shannon Swenson
Austin, Texas
512-472-3090 x1

hello [at] shannonswenson [dot] com