Augmented Reality: The Future Of Mobile Marketing?

Many have tried to speculate what the future holds for mobile marketing in terms of the technologies and methodologies we’ll see put in use, but none have the potential – in my opinion – as the concept of Augmented Reality (AR).

Augmented Reality is defined as “a live direct or indirect view of a real-world environment whose elements are supplemented with-, oraugmented by computer-generated imagery.  The augmentation is conventionally in real-time and in meaningful context with environmental elements.  In plain English, it’s the concept of layering computer-generated imagery over a real-world environment, thus creating “augmented” reality.

It’s a technology that’s been around since the early ’90s, but is gaining more momentum as mobile devices and hardware are finally as advanced as the technology itself.  Combining Augmented Reality with other mobile technologies that are already in use today, such as GPS, opens the door to a plethora of new mobile marketing opportunities.

I’ve long been a proponent for the concept of “image-recognition” via mobile devices, especially in relation to the marketing potential it holds.  Allowing consumers to point their camera-phones at an object, snap a photo and immediately be presented with hyperlinked data corresponding to that photo is a powerful marketing tool.  Augmented Reality builds on that technology, but includes support for real-time “hyperlinking” and other informational data to be tied to an image, or more importantly, video taken in real-time.

There have already been several applications built around the concept of Augmented Reality combined with GPS functionality for devices running on Android, the iPhone and others.  A particular Android-based application, for example, uses Augmented Reality and a user’s location to help direct the user to Subway stations in New York.  The user can turn on the video camera on the device and a layer is displayed on top of the real-time image displaying arrows to the nearest Subway stations as the user walks the streets.

Other applications include enhanced navigation apps, social media tagging apps and even “Augmented Reality Browsers,” such as Layars– which is dubbed the world’s first Augmented Reality mobile browser.

The potential is huge, and the opportunities are limitless, but the technology is still very much evolving.  Either way, I see it playing a huge role in the future of mobile marketing as well as mobile industry in general.