Augmented Reality for Augmented Business
Phone zombies; you find them on every pavement the world over – staring into a mobile device, not looking where they are going, every moment in danger of bumping into fellow pedestrians. To avoid looking like a tourist or the living-dead, I often check the door of the shop or entrance to the restaurant on Google Street View, before starting a journey to a new place, helping me move from transport link to venue sans bruises or awkward interaction with a fellow Londoner. We drop the little yellow man onto the map, switch to Street View and take a virtual “walk” down the street, without another thought.
My first encounter with 360 degree imagery and augmented reality was playing computer games (Doom II was a favourite) and on car Sat Navs. Being able to turn around when being shot from behind by monsters and seeing the car travel on the road map as I drove along, was certainly an improvement on the days of Tetris and a paperback A-Z. Without thinking why or how, this rich imagery allowed me to navigate both scenarios with a higher level of information and a more enjoyable, immersive experience.
Google developed their jigsaw of aerial photos to new levels of interactive, visual, educational wonder with Google Earth, where layers of information are added to satellite views and 360 degree imagery of the world and our universe. Travel to any landmark in the world, tour inside historical buildings, dive to the bottom of any ocean and even go back in time, all from the device in our pocket.
Augmented reality apps such as Layar allow users to view information by scanning an area of printed material – like these business cards and other promotional items – or by pegging the information to map coordinates so the device reveals the data when it reaches that location. This technology has been harnessed in many innovative, interactive campaigns, such as this one by Nissan and this by Tesco with Blippa, but as yet the use of A.R. has not moved from the “trend” phase to the norm in business. Many thought Google Glasses would be the next step to everyday access to augmented reality communication but as we know, Google have dropped the development of this wearable technology for now.
Google must be credited with having facilitated the easy consumption and more importantly, normalised the use of 360 degree imagery and augmented reality in everyday life. Now businesses of any size are accessing the value of this technology by creating an immersive tour for the audience to easily experience online.
Tour Dash is a Google-compatible service which adds a layer of information to a virtual tour and allows visitors to interact with the photos windows which appear as they navigate around the space, playing the role of sales assistant and clickable hotspots which drive users towards purchasing pages. If a picture speaks a 1000 words, then a Google Tour Dash could be considered an essay.
How does your business harness augmented reality technology? Share your thoughts with me on Twitter @Gertrudeandivy.