In an article this morning, the Chicago Tribune talks about augmented-reality. A term not that familiar to the average person, including some tech-heads.
What the heck is 'Augmented Reality'?... No, it's not something achieved by a Hollywood plastic surgeon, and a couple of synthetic baggies... it refers to a newer technology some of us have seen as part of apps like "Google Goggles". You point your smart-phone (or smart-device, such as an ipad, or some other tablet) at a street scene, and it "augments" the image with additional information, such as the street address, the names of businesses, and perhaps the closest ATM's or subway stops.
You point at the Italian restaurant and up pops their current menu, pricing and seating availability, Perhaps even make a reservation. Popular beer-maker Stella Artois has an AR app to help consumers find bars that serve it's beer. Ikea and Pier 1 offer a virtual app, that shoppers to see how their furniture might fit, by pointing the phone at home, and adding pieces via snapShop.
According the the Chicago Tribune, businesses can't line up fast enough to take part in this new technology. The same technology, by the way, that projects the 'first-down-line' onto the field of the Superbowl.
In the future, they suggest, you'll be able to point your device at just about anything, and without prompting the device will recognize what you're looking at, bring up those things you're interested in, and layer that information over the image. And it's just gaining traction as more and more people purchase smart-phones. How far behind is 'augmented' advertising?
Point at a home or building, and see if anyone within has something for sale on ebay... or whether there are any apartments for rent, and for how much, along with the landlords contact information. One of the pioneers in AR has been Yelp! the popular restaurant (and other services) review site. Point your smart-phone down a street, and text bubbles pop up and identify places that have been reviewed. Click on the bubble to read those reviews.
Buyers can download ZipRealty's free app, go to an area they like and point their phone down the block. Text bubbles pop up on screen, showing the addresses of homes for sale nearby. Tapping on a bubble will bring up the list price, thumbnail photo, square footage and the number of days it's been on the market. The app has been downloaded about 350,000 times, ZipRealty said.
Rofo.com, a San Francisco real estate site, has listed all of its rental properties on a similar app.
The museum of London has an app that will overlay historic photos from World War II over the street you're looking at. Very cool, a little spooky, but cool nonetheless.
Others have found ways to charge. Conde Nast Digital Britain, for example, has AR-enhanced guidebook apps for New York, Rome, Paris and Barcelona, Spain. Priced at $5.99 each, the apps enable tourists to point their phones toward a section of the city and get a rundown of museums, shops, restaurants and other attractions.
The Word Lens app, at $9.99, lets users point a smartphone at a Spanish-language street sign, menu or other text and receive an instant English translation. Several transit apps for sale point to the nearest subway stop via arrows overlaid on the sky or sidewalk.
It's a brave new world, folks. Hang on tight, it's gonna be a bumpy ride.