Joanne Gore_printmediacentrBy Joanne Gore

When I attended Xploration 14 in March, I sat in on a couple of sessions focused on Augmented Reality. I also had some very interesting, and often heated, discussions on the topic. Full disclosure: I knew virtually nothing about it before the conference. And although by no means do I consider myself anything close to an expert on the topic, my initial thoughts were: Wow… finally something that could completely bring life back to the print world!

Wikipedia states: Augmented Reality is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. According to “How Stuff Works” it “blurs the line between what’s real and what’s computer-generated by enhancing what we see, hear, feel and smell”.

OK… but really…what is it? And how is it any different from the last “latest and greatest thing” known as the QR code?

It all boils down to understanding the medium, what its potential is, and how to maximize it to benefit business.

QR codes never hit their stride (in my honest opinion). The fact that you can still find them up on billboards and on moving buses proves my point. And most companies who use them still just send people to their homepage, as opposed to a landing page, with information that is unique.

But I digress…this is an article about AR. And the way I see it…we’ve been given one more shot to get it right.

1 – Imagine shopping in a grocery store. You pick up a can of tomato sauce. Then you use your smartphone/tablet to launch the AR component. All of a sudden, there’s a video of someone preparing sauce…with the full recipe included. And what if you can upload the recipe straight to your device. Take it one step further and the ingredients could also be added to your grocery list. Voilà… dinner is served. What a great way to cross-sell and cross promote!

ikea-catalog-AR2 – You get your brand new IKEA catalogue. But you want to see how difficult the item will be to assemble before deciding. AR to the rescue.

3 – You just received a flyer for a new restaurant. Imagine being able to see exactly where it’s located by launching a map with directions based on your current location.

4 – One more! You know all those hundreds of flyers you see in hotel lobbies featuring local attractions? Imagine if instead of simply reading them, you can actually experience them!

Of course, there will always be companies that don’t push the limits and revert back to what they know…what’s “comfortable”. For example, I recently received a catalogue from the Hudson’s Bay (large Canadian department store) with a few AR-enabled pages. Unfortunately, instead of making me feel like I was experiencing the reclining leather chair with all of its fancy features, what was launched was a video of some guy talking about it. This could have just as easily been accomplished by using… yeah, a QR code.

Although the technology isn’t quite there yet, the foundation certainly is. When we start to envision the possibilities and embrace the new, I truly believe that we can breathe fresh life into print. Some of my ideas might seem a bit “out there”, but they were all triggered by what I’ve seen done wrong with QR, as well as what can be done right with AR.

AR is all about taking what you see on the printed page and making it come alive. It’s like the saying goes: if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you always got.

Bonus: Check out 10 Rockstar Examples of Augmented Reality for 2014 (and note that I found this AFTER I came up with my IKEA idea).

About Joanne Gore

Joanne Gore has nearly twenty years of marketing and communications experience, including corporate and small office environments. A true mentor, Joanne marries her passion for marketing with clear, creative feedback and inspiration. Joanne develops lead generation and conversion programs, re-brands product lines, implements social media strategies, manages PR and media relations campaigns, overhauls websites, develops highly targeted marketing campaigns, and delivers results.

Joanne is an industry speaker, currently sits on the board of Xplor Canada, and is a regular contributor to “News from the Printerverse”. She is also a returning mentor for the Richmond Hill Small Business Enterprise Centre’s Summer Company, an Ontario Government initiative for youth entrepreneurship & employment.

Joanne graduated as a Graphic Designer and, prior to joining the corporate world, worked in the print industry as an art director, typesetter, and printing consultant. Joanne is a marketing geekette by day, a fitness instructor by night, and a mom 24-7.

Follow Joanne on Twitter: @joannegore121

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