12 Dec 2016

I’m a marketing director, should I care about AR?

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I’m a marketing director, should I care about AR?

12.12.2016

— We'll help you weed through the noise and find out if you really need to worry about AR.

In April this year, Mark Zucherberg announced that one of Facebook’s three, ten year goals is AR/VR. He told us in his own words “In the future, you’ll be able to snap your fingers and pull out a photo and make it as big as you want, and with your AR glasses you’ll be able to show it to people and they’ll be able to see it.”

This is the vision of one of the most celebrated people in tech today. Mark believes in the future of AR so much that he added it to his list of three ten year goals for Facebook. Clearly something is going on here. But for you and me -today- is this something we should spend time on?

dragons in your livingroom

Augemented Reality brings dragons to life

What’s the hype?

The reason many of you marketing directors out there might be asking yourself the ultimate question “Should I care about AR?”, comes down to the little yellow character with the funny name. Pokemon Go, had everyone in a frenzy for a while. It made Nintendo stock rise, nay explode by more than 100% in 13 days, before the pundits realized that it was in fact not Nintendo who were responsible, but a different company entirely, and sent the share price somewhat lower (still left them with a nice 35% overall increase).

kids playing pokemon GO

Sofia, Bulgaria – July 31, 2016: A small group of people playing Pokémon Go on their smart phones and walk around the city center to catch them..

The Three Hurdles of AR

Both AR and VR have tremendous potential for entertainment, learning and social interactions. They have the potential to create profound digital, emotional encounters that you’d never be able to achieve through “regular” video or existing devices. In fact, I personally think it has the potential to change the way we see the world. I’ve held this zealous belief for many years, and so has the people of Facebook and Google (Just consider Google’s new Google Earth VR 😍)

image-2

However, there are three major obstacles to mainstream penetration of AR experiences today. The first is one of hardware. The second is related to content and third is getting people used to the idea of accessing information via glasses.

1. Hardware

Google has invested heavily in AR through their Google Glass and later through the stealth start-up Magic Leap. Facebook, as mentioned, through the acquisition of Oculus, but also the fun face app, MSQRD. Magic Leap, for those who haven’t heard of it, is a unicorn that has yet to release any kind of product. In fact, only a few very select people have even been able to see and try it. However, those who have seen it clearly felt it was pretty much the best thing since sliced bread. Google Ventures threw a whopping $500 million at it in 2014 and Alibaba added another $700 million earlier this year. So hardware will get ‘solved’, but there still isn’t a consumer friendly device out there for people to start using.

2. Content

The issue of content is one that has been been much overlooked in the hype around AR and VR glasses and devices. Without proper content, there is not much fun to be had. Creating high quality 3D models that move convincingly has been and continues to be a very very expensive proposition. Doing convincing 3D of people has been near said impossible. There are, however, companies that want to change this. Australian startup Blinxel has been working on a way to record true 3D performances quickly and reliably for a number of years now and are almost about to launch their V1.0 product. Using off the shelf cameras and hardware they’re able to do some pretty awesome recordings.

3. Adoption

Last, but certainly not least, there is the issue of people getting comfortable with this type of technology. The only thing that can overcome this is accessible, user-friendly devices and lots great, appropriate content. We will have to work out how we present the information and handle the user interface. Once the tech and content is there, this will take the time it takes. However, as a people, we’re getting more and more used to devices like this. Adoption will likely take a lot less time than it did getting used to the mobile phone.

New York, United States - June 23, 2014: Teenage girl wearing Google Glass on Times Square. Google glass is a wearable computer developed by Google. It's only available in the US under request at Google.

In time, when the hardware is really there and the users have gotten used to the idea of seeing information superimposed on the real world, there will be room for some amazing, mind-bending experiences. At which time, marketing directors really want to bring their best game.

However, from the perspective of a marketing director today, in 2016 and in the immediately foreseeable future, the hardware isn’t there yet technically. And the price point for most of the VR headsets are well beyond the budget of the common people.

The current state of affairs is still that unless you have a really compelling reason to do so, downloading AR apps to see ads really doesn’t seem like the way to go unless you have both a really good creative idea that actually helps people solve a problem, and some very skilled developers to help you execute. Good Morning would -of course- be able to support you in both areas. Now let’s go crate awesome virtual experiences!

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