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Augmented Reality, Mobile Apps Add More Life to Print

May 2014 By Erik Cagle, Senior Editor
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There's a line of thinking that has become attached to augmented reality (AR). One is that it is just a marketing fad, empty calories accompanied by a sugar rush—technology's answer to cotton candy. It's neat, it's cute, but from a practicality standpoint, it's not built to translate into dollars and cents.

Another viewpoint contends that AR has an indefinable value, limited only by the imagination of the creative people behind its genesis. Yes, it has great potential as a lead generator, collecting pertinent data from the people interacting with it. But it can go far beyond that, engaging people wherever they may be, as long as they have their smart phones with them.

And where can people be found with their phones? Let's be're quite aware that people take them into the rest room. In fact, that may be you.

That's the point. If you have a message to convey, a product to sell, an idea to share, there are no limitations as to how you can take someone else's reality and substitute your own. Best of all, printed media is a critical launching pad for many AR applications.

There's no need to sell M.J. Anderson on that notion. Anderson is chief marketing officer for multi-channel marketing agency Trekk Inc., which has weaved together a number of exciting, sometimes intricate but never boring, campaigns for a number of clients, including actual printers and at least one manufacturer of printing industry equipment and software.

Anderson is well-known in the marketing circles and somewhat of an evangelist on the topic of AR—having done a number of Webinars on how these experiences are beginning to change the way we use, and our expectations from using, mobile devices out in the world. "We're using AR to change the way people interact with content. In many cases, it has ramifications beyond just promotion and marketing," he says. "There isn't a vertical market that we've seen yet that couldn't benefit from the technology."

With the growth of AR, mobile device manufacturers are building the functionality into the chips of new products, from Google Glass to the Project Tango, the latter of which is aimed at giving mobile devices a human scale understanding of space and motion. Besides Google Glass, there are other wearable technologies in varying stages of development, and Anderson sees them as boasting game-changing possibilities.



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