Here, author Sarah Mannone explains the popularity of Augmented Reality (AR) and how a commercial printer can add value to his or her existing print products and services using the technology. Mannone is Vice President of Client Services at Trekk, a multi-channel marketing communications agency specializing in incorporating new ideas and technologies into multi-channel marketing programs.
Few technologies offer the opportunity to add value to the print pieces you’re already producing for your customers than Augmented Reality (AR). These media-rich experiences allow not just viewing, but interacting in ways not even conceivable with QR codes. And we all know that if we can communicate with someone through an interactive experience, we have a much higher likelihood of continuing the dialogue. AR transforms paper touchpoints into interactive experiences, bridging the gap between print, digital and mobile communications. It not only increases long-term engagement and response, but also helps keep print relevant in an increasingly mobile world.
AR here and now
AR has actually been used in practical applications since the early 1990s. What’s different today is that the development tools and standards are now in place to propel rapid growth and mass acceptance. According to Statistica, the global AR market is expected to grow to 200 million users by 2018. Using an AR browser app and a smartphone, users scan an AR marker, which could be an image, a 3D object or a location. The app connects to an AR cloud service that returns content to the device and augments the real-world environment with computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. Because the content is stored in the cloud, the AR experience can be changed at any time (without changing the marker), thus increasing the shelf life and value of print. As the technology continues to develop, mobile device manufacturers are adding more functionality that takes advantage of device capabilities to deepen the AR experience. New software development kits are being rolled out that challenge designers and developers to create a new generation of engaging and immersive experiences that take advantage of 3D technologies.