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transform1.png Companies from GE to Popular Science to Doritos have begun incorporating augmented reality (AR) into their marketing, and iPhone and Google Android have begun proliferating. A simple definition: Augmented reality integrates objects in the real world with computer generated images.
Augmented reality is the technology buzzword of the moment with interest burgeoning over the past 12 months. And now my client, Meijer, the 190-store mid-western retail chain, is mixing augmented reality with social media in their Halloween Transform Yourself in 3D site. Will it blend? We’ll soon see.
AR is fun, it’s interesting, and it’s still also just a little clunky. While mobile phones rely on their built-in cameras; on a computer, you need a webcam, a microphone, and some type of plug-in to allow AR to be seen in 3D. You can read about the variety of augmented reality apps vying for market domination in this Digital Beat article.
transformGorilla.pngThe article cites Total Immersion as a Tier One utility, and that’s the plug-in that Springthrough, the firm that developed Meijer’s Transform Yourself in 3-D Halloween experience chose.
On the Meijer Halloween micro-site, augmented reality tracks your eyes as you look at a webcam, and you can make a 3D video of yourself in one of four masks, and augment your voice in a 30-second recording. Then you can share your video on Twitter, post it on Facebook, or send it in email with one click on the respective icons.
(If you don’t have a webcam, just use the coupon on the Transform Yourself in 3D site and Meijer will sell you one for $5, with free shipping.) You also can buy the masks and other Halloween goodies through the site.
Will everyone want to download the plug-in? Nope. Steve Hall at adrants hated it. But judging by the traffic to the site, and the comments chiding him on his post, a lot of people are curious enough to try augmented reality.
transform_cat.pngI added the download in a couple of minutes, and then the site was intuitive and fun. Some of my Meijer Halloween videos are here and here another one, created by a peculiar creature is here. Have some fun making your own at the Meijer Halloween site.
Meijer’s first foray into social media was with The Headless Horseman last Halloween.
This year there will be Headless Horseman events in five cities: Chicago 10/16, Indianapolis 10/17, Cincinnati 10/23, Columbus 10/24, and Grand Rapids on 10/30. Like last year, people who text Meijer during the events could win cash.
Nobody really knows AR will end up. Will it become part of our daily communication experience, or just a fun toy? Will it fall from grace like Second Life?
I’ve been among those who’ve been predicting the 3D Internet for the past several years, and applications like these bring us closer to the day when our real-time online experience will be seamlessly integrated into Google and everywhere else we go online.
In the meantime, have fun. Transform Yourself in 3D. Happy Halloween y’all.
Bonus LInks:
Jeremiah Owyang: Three Future-Looking Videos Of Augmented Reality For Business
David Berkowitz: When Augmented Reality Goes Social
Mashable: Augmented Reality Goes 3D, Gets Even More Awesome