Augmented Reality Comes of Age

13th Aug, 2010

Augmented Reality (AR) uses a camera to layer the display with extra information in text and image format. If you have yet to come across it I’d suggest this post a starting point.

AR has a lot of possibilities, but many companies who have been using it, were doing so as nothing more than a gimmick. Past marketing examples of AR had little or no correlation with what the brand stood for or why it was used other than for novelty factor. You only have to look at the Avatar example in that linked post to see what I mean. Once the novelty has worn off it will be quickly discarded and forgotten about – not useful for brands looking to build relationships with customers. However, there’s been a couple of interesting uses for AR such as with this game:

This uses a head mounted display to add in extra information to the real world. This extra, or augmented, info is in the form of computer generated zombies, the player then has to shoot. It’s a very impressive prototype that is head and shoulders above any AR examples in marketing I have seen. Until recently.

In the last week I have seen two examples that use this technology as a communications tool that provide value to the customer. The first is by UK band Muse and the second by JC Penny in the USA.


The UK band will release the worlds first AR Tour Program this summer. To give it life beyond the novelty factor the band will appear as part of the AR answering questions posted (in advance) by fans. This is a promo video for it, but you can glimpse some of the 3D set that will feature in the application around the 25 second mark.

JC Penny

This example of AR comes from JC Penny in the USA. It creates a virtual dressing room around the user. By logging onto JC Pennys partner website the viewer can access the AR application. Using a camera and AR technology clothes are automatically fitted to the viewer and using motion capture the viewer can choose different clothes to try on by pointing at the screen. Once the user has found something to buy they are directed to an e-commerce section on the website. This is one of the most practical business uses of AR I’ve seen yet, and demonstrates what is the tip of the AR iceberg.