One of the interesting things about this year's CES was the arrival of technologies long in the works and now ready for consumer use. Such is the case with Augmented Reality. All the rage in marketing and advertising circles, augmented reality, the use of digital interfaces or other extra-experiential mechanisms or story telling tools to bring an enhanced experiences to a given situation, is starting to show up increasingly in the consumer world.
Now, we've been seeing the use of 2D, also known as QR, codes for some time in some one-time-only oriented advertising by brands, on magazines, coke cans and bus stop posters. And the uses have been pretty cool. Now we are seeing a resurgence and we will be seeing greater ubiquity in usage. Hallmark cards will be releasing a special brand of card using 2D codes. I have not yet heard what will be the augmented part of the experience (if you go to the Sobel Media event tomorrow morning and learn more, do tell), but the very fact that a name brand is taking 2D codes and making in part of a card found in any store, is a commentary of how accessible the technology is now.
Intel, interestingly enough at CES, was showing off its new i5 core processor with an augmented reality display. As you will see in this video, they chose to use Esquire's December issue with Robert Downey Jr. as an example of technology requiring enough processing power to use their new chip.
To get the full effect of what is happening with the AR, check out this video by Esquire on the December issue:
I have to say that I was not buying that this could only be done with the new Intel chip. Nevertheless, it is nice to finally see technology which was showcased 10 years ago at Siggraph and which I saw also demoed at the University of Washington Human Interface Technology Lab at that time, finally hit the mass market.
Taking this one step further, tonight, at the Disruptathon event in Tysons Corner, VA, I saw another level of 2D code use. Until this point, we have been seeing 2D codes that are all the same, thus featuring the same media - very creatively, but still a mass production. Ven Chava of AirArts has taken this to the next level with his company's TalkingTag products. With patent pending technology, Chava has created a system for producing unique 2D codes which then allow for very personalized use of the codes to create UGC media as an augmentation to whatever you want to stick a tag onto. This enables voice, photos, video and other data of ones own making to be added to anything that has this unique identifier - like a post note or notebook page. All you need is an
Take TalkingTag's technology and put the tags on Hallmark cards and you have a whole other level of personalized greetings. On the simple level think what this could mean to direct mail, books, magazine and newspaper articles. Add the TalkingTag fingerprint-style uniqueness and imagine how cool it would be if we could embed 2D codes in a tweet and other social media communications. Configure a photo with a 2D embedded watermark and add vocal commentary or any other additional media. As you can see, I think Chava is on to something quite big. Check out the TalkingTag store for products with which you can create your own augmented reality experiences.
Now if you want to hear more about Esquire and from some of the thought leaders in this area, walk fast and be ready to stand at the SobelMedia Augmented Reality panel breakfast taking place at the Samsung Experience Store in the Time Warner Building in NYC tomorrow, Thursday morning. Come bright and early at 7:30am to hear from David Curcurcito, Creative Director for Esquire; David Polinchock, founder of the Brand Experience Lab [with whom I saw the first iterations of this technology at Siggraph oh so long ago]; Doug Dimon, Creative Director/Broadcast Design at Creative Bubble/NYC and Adam Broitman, Ringleader of Circ.us. And with digital media visionary, Richard Carey, as moderator.
I'm always interested in hearing more about cool uses of 2D codes and experiences and explorations into augmented reality. So please do write in and send links to cool things we should take a look at.