Visuals are an important part of advertising, so it’s not surprising that so many companies have jumped on the augmented reality bandwagon, offering tools that visualize their products in a magical and memorable way.
Here we take a look at some pretty amazing promotional uses of this new tech that work with common webcams, giving everyone a chance to experience augmented reality — a trend that will be big in 2010.
1. BMW Z4
This BMW interpretation ties in with a TV ad that sees artist Robin Rhode using the Z4 as a giant paintbrush (think big-scale finger-painting with the car’s tyres). Downloading the software, printing out the 3D symbol and holding it up to your webcam will allow you to see your own miniature Z4 on your screen, which you can then drive around using keyboard commands, creating your own Rhode-esque car painting.
2. TOPPS 3D LIVE Trading Cards
Taking the trading card into the 21st century, the Topps “3D LIVE” range offers baseball (and now also football) stars that leap from the special cards onto your desk, as viewed via webcam. As well as creating miniature holographic representations of the players — a neat enough trick that would impress most kids — the concept is taken a step further with the angle that you can control the player’s signature moves via your keyboard.
3. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
As well as augmented reality, this example uses clever face-tracking technology to stick the original 3D CGI head of Optimus Prime atop your own visage. The campaign to promote “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” also includes a hidden holographic message from Bumblebee, again developed using the original 3D model of the robot that appeared in the movie, suggesting CGI films may be ripe for more AR apps in the future.
4. Doritos Sweet Chilli Chips
What we like about Doritos’ take on the tech for the Brazilian market is that the webcam code is printed on the back of the chip packet, adding value to something normally disposable. Perhaps this also means less chip bags littering the streets. Holding up the code on the Sweet Chilli chips packets initiates the appearance of a little cartoon character, which can then be used in an extended online game.
5. USPS Priority Mail Virtual Box Simulator
Erring on the functional side of promotion, the USPS Priority Mail Virtual Box Simulator is a wickedly clever use of the tech that lets users compare the size of an item they need sent to the size of boxes available from the postal service, by seeing how well their item fits inside a transparent box. Although not particularly high octane excitement, it does illustrate the practical use of AR which is yet to be fully explored.
6. Star Trek
These kind of applications work particularly well with a techie audience, or in this instance a Trekkie one. The front cover of certain versions of the Star Trek movie on DVD and Blu-ray doubles as a webcam code to initiate the “cadet orientation” program. It offers a holographic tour around the USS Enterprise (that appears as a hovering apparition on your screen), incorporating a look at the bridge, and best of all, a trigger to fire the ship’s weapons, complete with sound effects.
7. Wrigley’s 5 Gum
Created for the launch of Wrigley’s “5″ chewing gum in France (although the site is also available in English) this interactive example of AR sees five symbols (each representing one of the five gum flavors) becoming a different track that only plays when the webcam can “see” it. The desktop DJ experience is probably best explained by watching the demo video above, populated appropriately by masticating teens.
Although many items of apparel can be bought online, sunglasses are one of those tricky products that you really need to try on to ensure you look more chic than geek. Ray-Ban’s Virtual Mirror (ably demonstrated here by YouTuber NickHearne) lets you virtually try on glasses (after a quick bit of face-mapping). The software lets you move your head around to see how the shades look from different angles. Depending on the opacity of the glass, you can even see your eyes through some of the shades. Seeing this app in action makes us think this could be where the real commercial future of AR lies.
9. Lost Valentinos
John Mayer, Eminem and Julian Perretta are three other musicians that have dabbled with AR as a way of making their music videos more compelling, but this effort from the Lost Valentinos — with each printable code representing a member of the band to be arranged as you see fit — is a great example of how to keep it tight. In addition, the band’s site doubles as a video gallery for fans to share how they interacted with the AR by uploaded webcam video clips.
10. Always Infinity
This time round we’ve saved the worst for last. How best to promote feminine hygiene products? With an augmented reality white bunny of course. We think the world can do without this irrelevant foray into the AR arena that assumes a female audience will be blown away by an incredibly basic application of the tech.