Every day is getting more exciting for consumers. Walk through a train station and maybe spot an angel; a snack could contain a message from a secret admirer and a daily beauty regime can be enlivened by a tune from a pop princess.
These are just some of the marketing techniques that have used augmented reality technology – computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video or graphics – to enhance people’s experience of brands.
The surge in the popularity of smartphones means that consumers can just point their phone at an image and immediately connect to an additional layer of information delivered in an exciting way.
And this technology is going to become more prevalent: a survey by ABI Research suggests that the augmented reality market will be worth $3bn (£1.8bn) by 2016, compared with just $21m (£13.4m) in 2010.
Read more to discover which brands have created TM’s top 10 augmented reality campaigns so far:
Travellers and commuters got an unexpected surprise in London’s Victoria Station when beautiful angels appeared to fall from the sky. People who happened to walk across a particular spot suddenly saw themselves on a video screen next to the departures board. As they watched the screen, they discovered that they had celestial visitors. Angels, generated using augmented reality technology, fell to earth and appeared to interact with the passerbys. The viral of the YouTube clip has since been viewed more than 750,000 times.
Fans of beauty brand Nivea had the treat of being serenaded by a tiny virtual version of its cosmetics and skincare model, pop singer Rihanna. To access this piece of augmented technology, customers could buy a jar of Nivea Crème or print a PDF out from Nivea’s website and hold it up to their computer’s webcam. Then the miniature chanteuse emerged from the cap of the jar to sing her hit song “California King Bed.”
3. Axa Insurance
AXA Insurance in Belgium released a phone app designed to help people in the event of an accident. To grab customers’ attention, they produced a traditional full-page print ad with an image of a disaster. The ad invited people to place their smartphone onto a specific space on the print ad to discover what had happened. The ad comes to life though a video on the phone’s screen that shows a giant Godzilla-like monster destroying the street depicted in the print advert.
4. Holiday Inn
The budget hotel chain claimed to have created the world’s first augmented reality hotel when it brought virtual versions of Britain’s top athletes to life during the run up to the London 2012 Olympics. Guests at the Holiday Inn London Kensington Forum can use their smartphones or tablets to see athletes in virtual action in the reception, corridors and bedrooms. BMX World Champion Shinaze Reade performs stunts in the hotel's lobby while Paralympics table-tennis world number one Will Bayley hits tennis balls behind reception. In the corridors UK long-jump record holder Chris Tomlinson can be seen jumping and leading windsurfer Nick Dempsey practises his sport in bedrooms using a bed sheet. Guests are able to have their picture taken with the four virtual athletes at the hotel.
5. The Science Museum London
By using the Science Museum’s new app Science Stories, visitors can get a guided tour of nine exhibits by Top Gear presenter James May. The app is an augmented reality application created by developer Digicave and Qualcomm. The £1.99 app works by using a smartphone’s camera system to recognise a special marking on the side of the exhibit. Once the phone has registered the marking, it triggers the appearance of a miniature May who launches into a commentary on the object. The app has a subtitles option, Facebook sharing capabilities and an "at home" option too, allowing access to May's commentary outside of the museum.
6. National Geographic
App Shaker created a live event for National Geographic to promote the National Geographic channel in HD. People were invited to step inside the world of National Geographic, and were able to virtually pet leopards, see dinosaurs and take part in a conga-line with an astronaut on the moon with the help of augmented reality technology.
Lego has launched augmented reality kiosks to show parents and their children what the finished Lego construction would look like before they buy it. The toy company teamed up with technology company Metaio and created an augmented reality system, called the Lego Digital Box. The Lego box can be held up to a screen in store and the finished product is displayed on screen.
Greek consumers can send a secret message to a friend using augmented reality and a Lacto chocolate bar. By using a free smartphone app, Greek consumers can use their phone to send a message to a friend via any chocolate bar from Kraft Foods’ Lacto brand. They write the message on the Lacto app, which also shows how it will appear on a Lacto bar. Next, they select the name of the friend they’d like to send it to from their list on Facebook. Finally, the recipient receives a Facebook notification, and once they download the app, the their phone camera automatically turns on and can be used to reveal the message on any Lacto chocolate bar.
During last year’s festive season, Starbucks used augmented reality to let customers animate their red coffee cups with smartphones. By downloading the “Starbucks cup magic” app and pointing their smartphone at the cup, customers could see animations of five characters including an ice skater, a squirrel, a boy and his dog sledding, and a fox. Coffee drinkers could interact with the characters by tapping on the screen.
To promote their new Accent Sedan, car brand Hyundai created a giant 3D projection on the side of a building in Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia. The brand suspended an actual car on the face of the building and had a driver walk down the wall to drive it. Then six HD projectors mapped a 3D augmented-reality scene creating the illusion of the car racing through a futuristic, computer-generated cityscape.
Do you think augmented reality technology will become an essential marketing tool for B2B as well as B2C? Do you have examples of B2B AR campaigns to share? Tell us about them below