When Microsoft sneezes, the programming world suddenly bears a striking resemblance to the characters in the disaster movie Contagion, since the company’s innovations inevitably spread as readily as the flu. So, when Microsoft received a patent for augmented reality glasses, it signaled the next big change that will impact the web-user experience. Google, and other industry players, are now jumping onto the augmented-reality bandwagon with gusto.
Yet, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. This innovation also provides an information-rich adjunct to existing mobile technology. The juiciest commercial target will be to take that enhanced user experience into mobile commerce. App developers will undoubtedly find a gold mine of new applications that will alert users to restaurants, stores, and even the whereabouts of friends and family.
Dynamic Web Solutions is one company that’s preparing for the inevitable spread of this new technology, which can superimpose a virtual world atop a real-life landscape, among other cool tricks. Google is taking its Project Glass very seriously, as it literally opens the eye to a whole new of world of marketing possibilities. The development could usher in an advertising bonanza so vast it could push the company’s profits into the stratosphere. Its anticipated debut in the marketplace has a lot of people talking, even if the price tag comes with three-alarm sticker shock.
One example of how augmented reality will enliven advertising content: Hold up a bottle of soda to a webcam, and the sports figure pitching the ad will pop into your life. The effect resembles a hologram. Another example: Stand in front of a restaurant, pull out a mobile phone or tablet, and with augmented reality, check out crowd-sourced reviews.
One caveat is in order. This technology is in the early stages, and a widespread commercial application is still waiting in the wings. Yet, the entry of Microsoft into this arena is a telling sign. The company has invested heavily into the gaming sphere, and despite its sometimes vocal critics, the Puget Sound company will likely pull off plans to go beyond mere gimmicky into opening a vast new market.
One potentially huge marketing application for this technology is the fashion industry. Imagine how cool it would be to try on clothes virtually. No more lengthy stays in dressing rooms, because augmented reality could eventually offer the typical fashion deva almost limitless opportunities to sample fashions in a runway-style experience. In 2009, Esquire unveiled its first augmented reality magazine issue. And, it’s no surprise magazine publishers are intently interested in this technology, since it could provide a true long-lasting remedy to the decline of advertising revenue historically generated by printed materials.
For the average small business owner, what does all this mean to the bottom line? Anything that makes purchases easier benefits merchants. That’s a fact supported by the advent of the first credit cards, and even more so by mobile payment technology. Yet, augmented reality could truly change the face of Internet marketing, because it will bring three-dimensionality through the computer into the mind. And, that is where marketing decisions are made.