If you haven’t heard of augmented reality yet, it’s likely that you soon will. However, unless you have been off planet for the last few years, you will already have seen it at work, most likely on TV eg sports such as cricket have shown for years whether the umpire was right or wrong in over-ruling that shout of “Howzat” by drawing lines on screen to show the potential trajectory of the ball.

Now, AR is here to stay, and anyone marketing online should consider the implications from all marketing angles. This article could contain 1001 links to articles worth reading, but the subject is already so immense that it would be hard to even touch the surface of the content out there which may be of relevance to you. Suffice to say, AR is here to stay and the sooner you grasp its potential, the sooner you will also benefit from it.

The release of open source AR development tools means that AR has reached maturity and will be everywhere within no time. Or it would be, if Apple had included the facility for AR in the iPhone, and Flash capabilities so that the target mobile market could be accessed.

Meanwhile, here are some examples of business related uses of AR, which may bear thinking about in one form or another for your business.

    • Business cards with AR and CVs with AR
    • Augmented identity – point your mobile camera or webcam at an attendee during an event and the AR app (recognizr) will use facial recognition to pull personal details from the Net – Twitter data, website, Facebook page, Linkedin Profile (you name it), and display these on your screen in the air around the person’s head. (The Astonishing Tribe demonstrated the prototype at Mobile World Congress)
    • Fashion – many of the major fashion brands have adopted AR. Stick an AR symbol in a garment, point a webcam at it, and you can access all sorts of goodies. Check out Cassette Playa, Adidas and Benetton for examples.
    • Magazines and marketing campaigns are taking 2D into the 3D online world – point a webcam at the symbols on the page or the advert and you are shown video, audio, games, and much more.
    • Geolocation mobile apps such as Foursquare and Gowalla are likely to soon show photos from Flickr, reviews and much more. Beat them to it by putting AR symbols outside your business for Android etc. users to access the info you choose! (However, as pointed out above, you will need to be ready to cater for irate iPhone users who cannot – yet – access this).

      Whether AR will become mainstream or be a fad has yet to be seen. It will take off big style if Apple join the game so that mobile phones can access AR, so keep an eye on the next iteration of the iPhone and iPad for any such announcements. If Apple play the game, it will herald a whole new level of complexity to monitoring reputation for any company with multiple mash-ups that could be extremely difficult to keep track of.

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      About the author:

      A practising internet marketing consultant since 1996, Lindsey Annison helps companies improve their website marketing, online PR and information architecture. Lindsey is also a qualified adult education lecturer and author. As co-founder of the Access to Broadband Campaign, she has been instrumental in the provision of high-speed internet access to rural areas in the UK. Lindsey is also a past winner of Silicon.com's Outstanding Contribution to UK Technology