A few weeks ago, while passing through the airport on my last trip of 2012 , I passed by a Brookstone store. I was enticed in by all of the gadgets. It didn’t disappoint. A bunch of items that I didn’t really need, but called out to me, were abundant . Typically I take it all in and exit empty handed, but not this time. This time I was sucked in by new LCD projector technology. HDMI interfaces, HD quality, at over 72″, all for under $300. (http://www.brookstone.com/hdmi-pocket-projector?bkiid=SearchResults|CategoryProductList|801143p) It actually made sense. It wasn’t only cool, but it also was a good business investment for me to be able to carry my own mini projector (about the size of my palm) to most meeting rooms that have antiquated display equipment. Merry Christmas to me!
When I brought it home and proudly showed my wife, I realized what I picked up wasn’t just a inexpensive projector, but a small glimpse into our future. Instead of clearing off a wall in my home, I just projected it right onto my kitchen. The image clearly washed over our cabinets, counter, walls, and appliances. I was taken a back by how rich the experience was for the music video I was “watching” while making dinner. (Yes it was some throw back to an 80’s tune.). At that point I was not interested in seeing every detail (like high end audio video equipment showing the newest 3D movie), but rather washing a digital experience into my daily activity.
It got me thinking that “Augmented Reality” may come in many forms. The Google glasses project ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9c6W4CCU9M4) has certainly made a lot of noise about a form of AR, and a cool vision it is. Others, like Metaio ( http://www.metaio.com/products/SDK/?gclid=CNeEuuag97QCFYs7MgodPFoAqA) have been building tools to enable many forms of AR. Most of those have been experienced through some phone or consumer– oriented device (tablet, laptop, etc.). Most of these applications of AR are focused on providing context appropriate information that coincides with a location or particular activity.
But with display technology getting so cheap, couldn’t a broader definition of AR emerge? One that is based in entertainment vs. purposeful information? One that is as simple as playing videos on non traditional surfaces?
My close friend, David Livingston (@Liver13) pointed out that Microsoft is already experimenting with this notion. Surprisingly, it isn’t their “Surface” that bring this close to reality either. It is their real flagship, Xbox,coupled with Kinect that bring this new form of immersive experience to us. Take a look at what their labs are playing with: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=re1EatGRV0w .
Our takeaway is that AR is for real. It fits into a “connected life” equation, and companies need to think broadly about how it should be defined, and how it fits into their strategies (product, services, aftersales, etc.). With a broad definition, an “eyes wide open” approach to its application, today is not too soon for your brand to begin thinking about how you will apply AR.
Keep disrupting…No regrets!