A few months ago we got our hands on a new Augmented Reality (AR) marketing tool for smart phones that could prove useful for our commercial real estate clients. Rofo, a commercial real estate search tool, and Junaio, an augmented reality browser, joined together to create the first commercial real estate augmented reality mobile application. You can view a one minute video of it here, but basically it allows anyone to point their smart phone at a building and see any real estate space available, including photos, space size, costs and more. In one click you can also email the listing broker or landlord. Bye-bye real estate signage, hello peering through walls.
But is this really a new technology? Not really. Not by the new definition of new, aka developed within the last 6 months. Augmented Reality (AR) has been around for several years, you just may not think of it as that. How about that Yelp app on your smart phone that finds and reviews restaurants you’re close to via your phone’s GPS. Or how about Layar, a popular app that shows you what is around you by displaying real time digital information (layers) on top of reality. Augmented reality (AR) has been growing rapidly since 2009, but what’s exciting (and a bit creepy) about this tool of late is the way marketers are starting to use it. Here are just a few:
POS augmented reality application: LEGO augmented reality kiosk shows what’s inside the box.
iPhone RFID: object-based media – location-based urls with your phone – wave your phone by an object and it tells you something about it, drives you to a URL.
Tissot watches – sit in front of your computer and virtually “try on” the different styles.
These are most likely just teasers for what media and communication experiences will look like in the near future. According to Juniper research, the current global revenue for augmented reality (AR) is currently less than $2 million, but is projected to be around $1.5 billion globally by 2015. At this past spring’s SXSW conference, a panel of augmented reality developers said the future of AR is working it into the everyday, via glasses/goggles or even AR contact lenses. They said once these tools are available to the masses, marketing and advertising as we know them now will once again be a thing of the past.
Hold on. It’s coming fast. And it will give all new meaning to the term “reality check”.