21 febrero 2011

Augmented Reality

En los últimos 2 años estamos observando crecer el fenómeno de las aplicaciones de AR (Realidad Aumentada), que están encontrando su público de forma progresiva.

Lo que según algunos era un nicho, se está convirtiendo en una tendencia. Tanto que en iTunes hay toda una sección de estas aplicaciones llamada “The World Around You – Augmented Reality Apps”.

En España destacan unas 42 apps en el store, mientras que en EEUU son algo menos (tal y como muestran en este blog). Aunque en iTunes las juntan, no todas son aplicaciones estrictamente AR.

Algunas implican el uso de una imagen que previamente hay que imprimir y ponerla en frente al móvil, otras simplemente simulan el uso de la cámara para dar una fantástica sensación de estar jugando en un entorno "natural", aunque sólo sea una simulación, y no hay mejor manera para ilustrar este tipo de aplicaciones que este juego:   Star Wars Falcon Gunner game .

A pesar de que no sea una real aplicación AR, la experiencia del juego es mucho más intensa con la cámara encendida que con un simple fondo de espacio cósmico.

Most of the iPhone Mobile AR games also use this same approach and it's not helping to advance the mobile AR field one bit. In fact it's hurting the field and leading to underwhelming consumer expectations. A recent research report from Forrester sums up what we've been saying for the last two years -- that mobile augmented reality is very overhyped and not ready for prime time. We've blogged numerous times about issues and limitations of mobile AR -- processing power, battery life, development fragmentation (iOS/Android) and so on. Though everybody in the AR industry will agree that mobile AR will one day become the focal point of all AR, it's not there yet and won't be for another few years. We'll likely start seeing some innovation in the mobile AR area in 2011 but it likely won't be until 2013 or so that mobile AR really starts reaching its potential. However, there are some mobile AR executions that do show potential and where the mobile AR field is headed. Layar is the most prominent mobile AR developer and they're doing some interesting things with their platform mostly as it pertains to enhanced information. And I'm referring to executions like showing where the Berlin Wall used to bewhen visiting Germany vs. overlaying directional information in the mobile viewfinder which is still inaccurate and limited to current mobile handset technology. Two of my other favorite mobile AR apps include Sunseeker and iButterfly and show that utility based AR applications can be developed with current technology. The press often assumes that all of AR is mobile AR. But it's not. As even Forrester points out, web and kiosk based AR executions are much further along in terms of consumer adoption and you'll likely see more of these executions in 2011 than others: "According to Mr. Husson, mobile augmented reality applications are not delivering. There are more significant short-term opportunities to tap into with Web-based and kiosk-based augmented reality solutions and there is great potential for the technology in ecommerce." There's a reason why web and kiosk based-AR is more practical for your brand right now. With the web, you have the greatest reach for your AR application especially when you develop with Adobe Flash to obtain the greatest reach without the need for a proprietary plug-in. And with kiosks, you have greater processing power and removal of consumer barriers (i.e., markers, webcams) to achieve innovative and engaging executions for retail, OOH, POP and event marketing. But with mobile you still have the limitations I listed above that are not going to be overcome in 2011, much less 2012. Though tablets might provide some innovation in the mobile AR arena, web and kiosk-based AR will likely be your best bet for any AR initiatives you're targeting to develop. Even Connected TV sets and gaming devices that offer webcam functionality will likely be a more developed and practical platform for AR than mobile. Microsoft Kinect with 8 million sales in it's first 60 days is already showing quick adoption of AR in the digital living room. What's more, the PR value for AR is diminishing quickly for brands and doing an AR application or initiative just to do it does not make sense anymore. If I had a nickel for every inquiry we get where "I want to have the consumer point their phone at an old car and change it into X brand," well I'd be able to buy a 99-cent mobile AR app. AR can be a very useful technology for many different areas and industries and it's contingent on brands and their agencies to look to utility, practicality and value over quick PR and concept reels for their AR needs.

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