Augmented Reality Can’t Touch This…or Can It?
There is a lot of talk about Augmented Reality (AR) and the opportunity it can be for printing firms. I happen to agree with it’s potential and feel it is worthwhile to look into. For those unfamiliar with Augmented Reality, I suggest you read its definition on Wikipedia.
It is important to note that AR has many applications and print is just one way it can be used. Other ways such as using the camera on your phone to view the areas around you with something akin to an overlying grid of data about the buildings and places being seen. Another could be distance meeting spaces where people from all over the world meet in a real and virtual space. Imagine, if you will, three people in a room and six seats. Occupying the other three seats are people from various locations such as the next town over or the other side of the world. These three people are sitting at their desks with their computer camera capturing their image and displaying it in 3D on the seats at the conference table. This happens already in Virtual Worlds and AR is a similar technology in many ways.
To start your mind working on how printing and AR can be blended I invite you to view this video made in 2007. It describes how books and AR can be blended into an interactive experience
As you can see, he has a printed book without an AR element. What it does have are things to interact with—to move, to uncover, to feel. Having these elements built into books teaches children things like how the physical world works and what a lions fur feels like without having a live and potential fatal encounter with said lion.
Imagine how a book like the one in the video could behave when it has AR elements. When the child opens a panel, the scene changes as if a door were open. When they see a scene where tires are being made, they feel what rubber feels like. They experience things and have additional context to build their understanding of what it is to do that action or be in that situation. It is a very powerful and compelling combination that I do not see matched with just a computer or just a book.
To wrap this up, yes, there is opportunity for printers here. The opportunities are still being uncovered, but it is easy to see the book market taking advantage of AR. But, as you look deeper you see magazines, advertising, selling apps, trade show displays, cereal boxes and more all have strong potential for this technology. Bringing in the power of the physical world, like the ability to touch and feel, gives print a very powerful place in this emerging market.