augmented reality

Morton Helig’s ‘Sensorama’

From its beginnings to its future – a look into augmented reality and how it has changed publishing.

Augmented reality (AR) is a term used to define the merging of computer created objects with the real world resulting in a composite view. The first example of AR was created by Morton Helig who took virtual reality from the pages of sci-fi books and brought it into reality in 1957 with his invention the Sensorama.  The Seonsorama is a simulator that creates a virtual reality using a “3-D motion picture with smell, stereo sound, vibrations of the seat, and wind in the hair to create the illusion“, and was the device that kick started the race to invent virtual realities.

So where is AR at now?

AR has come a long way in the last 57 years, from Helig’s one-off static device; it can now be used by anyone with a smartphone. AR apps can be downloaded and used around the world and eye-wear like Google Glass means that AR could become part of everyday life in the near future.

These are some examples of how AR has been used in the last few years:

LEGO’s Digital Box kiosk (2010)

LEGO are renowned for their digital innovation. So-much-so that at the last digital innovation meetup held by PPA, their Senior eCommerce Specialist, Leif Bode Nielsen was center stage in discussing how to innovate (we were at the event, check out our coverage here). In 2010 LEGO set up a Digital Box kiosk with AR experts metaio to give their customers a chance to see and “hold” products before buying.

National Geographic’s Live augmented reality (2011)

National Geographic brought exotic animals to Hugarian shopping centers in 2011, giving shoppers a unique experience with wild beasts and astronauts.

McDonalds’ GOL! campaign (2014)

This year, to celebrate the world cup McDonalds gave customers the chance to play a goal-scoring game using their phone and the iconic fries holder.

Publishing and AR – now

AR is a favored tool in the advertising industry, as you can see from the above examples. But it is also making waves in publishing, and is just one of the ways that print publications can become digital.

Esquire – RDJ (2012)

Esquire’s May 2012 editions cover come to life virtually. Esquire said “For the cover story, we just let the man talk. And no one can talk like this man.

IKEA 2013 catalogue (2013)

IKEA used AR and animation in their 2013 catalogue to make the usability and functions of furniture available to the readers.

Guiness World Book of Records (2014)

Always a great read, the GWBOR took the fun to the next level and created a virtual animation of their record holders.

Publishing and AR- the future

Augmented reality is slowly growing and becoming commonplace in a society where everyone has a screen in their pocket. You can see how it will grow in our everyday lives with technology becoming an accessory and Google Glass being developed, and the sci-fi dream of a world where information appears right in front of our eyes is fast approaching (we recently wrote a piece on wearable tech, which you can read here). With publishing however, the future seems a little more rocky. AR works well with print publishing, giving it that much-needed level of interactivity, but with digital publishing it is problematised. Rather than starting with a physical object and adding digital elements too it like it does at the moment, AR in digital publishing will require a technique that starts with the digital and adds reality to that. One that, so far at least, I’m not aware of existing.


Header image source: wikipedia

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