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Augmented Reality - more than real
Augmented Reality (AR) - a term, which is currently still hovering between hype, a playground for marketing effects and genuine potential - is increasingly also dominating the packaging industry. Packaging, which displays its contents in interactive form and 3D, will in future increasingly feature at the PoS. A pioneer here is Danish toy manufacturer Lego.
Augmented Reality is a rapidly developing technology, which is being treated as one of the most important strategic information technologies over the coming years. In short it involves the connection between 3D and real images using modern image processing technology. AR enables the integration of multimedia 3D data in brochures, magazines, products and packaging.
The user can enter this augmented reality using a camera and corresponding software on a digital terminal, such as for example a PC or Smartphone. If the real object is filmed with the camera, the terminal can display additional information and objects in real-time. In contrast to Virtual Reality (VR), AR does not replace reality but extends it by including virtual data.
AR can be used for innumerable applications. Companies can for example structure their product information as an experience - currently still an enormous competitive advantage. Marketing strategists benefit from the possibility of visual comprehension, a "living experience" and important additional information in a real environment. Interactive advice and instructions are also possible. In this connection for example scanned codes from an automobile print ad could show all the dealers within the vicinity and even navigate the user to their location. Or the user finds a site of interest or restaurant and receives information on the history of the building or critical restaurant reviews etc. on his screen/Smartphone. In the area of robotics AR can superimpose internal control information in the user’s field of vision. Visitors walking past a trade fair stand could pick up on additional information or receive data on an enlarged fair stand using their mobile terminal. AR can be used in practically almost all areas of everyday life.
Packaging transforming itself
A further important example is product packaging. As a result, the days when a packet of Cornflakes impressed on the breakfast table with its small puzzles and picture-puzzles could be a thing of the past. In future, if the kids hold the packet in front of their mobile phone camera, it can be transformed in no time at all into a game of skill or a screen with sport or music video clips. Crisps and chewing gum manufacturers are already placing their faith in AR: if you wave an empty bag of Doritos "Sweet Chilli Chips" in front of the camera, it is then transformed into virtual figures which can then be used to play online games.
The "5 GUM" chewing gum from Wrigley’s integrates an AR app in the current "Stimulate your senses" campaign: if the user moves the packaging in front of the camera, every movement produces a noise and image effects. As a result, you can even create your own songs.
"Digital Box" from Lego
Danish toy manufacturer Lego has also discovered AR for itself and its product packaging. If the potential buyer steps in front of the camera in the Lego shop with the so-called "Digital Box", then three-dimensional, completely constructed carousels, excavators or locomotives appear as if by magic. With corresponding movements, the consumer can observe the contents of the retail packaging from all sides and watch it "in action" on the monitor. In other words, what only used to be conceivable using the image on the packaging can now be seen in full detail in animated form.
Following a test phase, which began at the end of 2008, Lego is now introducing its "Digital Boxes" throughout all Lego stores worldwide. They were developed in cooperation with German company "metaio", which has become a specialist in the implementation of the most diverse AR features.