See It and Believe ItPosted on April 30, 2015 by
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” ~ Albert Einstein
About a year ago, British Airways created an amazing billboard and put it near an airport. When an airplane would take off at the airport, the billboard would detect it. On the billboard, a little kid would follow the plane, pointing at it, until he ran past the end of the screen. When the plane was gone, he would run back into view. The billboard actually interacted with the world outside.
How did they do that? I have no idea.
If you’ve seen that billboard video, you’ve seen an example of “augmented reality.” (If you haven’t seen the video, you can find it by Googling “British Airways interactive billboard.”). Essentially, augmented reality adds digital content to real-life objects. The object could be an ad in a magazine, or it could be a famous painting, or it could be a house you just passed on the road. The essence is this: Point your tablet at it, and stuff happens. That stuff could be a link to a phone number, a video or animation you can watch, or other statistics about the thing you’re looking at. In the case of a house, it could tell you the price, square footage, and comps for the area. It could even give you a tour of the inside of the house.
If you want to get a better idea of what augmented reality means for real estate marketing (it’s almost impossible to get a good feel for it without actually seeing it), just search for “real estate” and “augmented reality” on YouTube. You’ll find some very cool information. I like James Dearsley’s videos – they’re short and very helpful.
Right now, augmented reality is in its infancy, at least as far as it’s used in marketing. It’s still a little clunky, and I’ll bet you that in ten years, what we see now will seem very crude. But things are moving along.
Is it time to dive into marketing your business through augmented reality? Probably not quite yet. There are sophisticated apps like Homespotting that are designed for real estate marketing, but availability is still limited. I would wait to buy expensive software. I would recommend, instead, that you begin experimenting with some of the simpler, less expensive applications like Layar or Blippar that allow you to create simple augmented-reality content for your real estate ads. The basic software is free, and you can experiment with creating ads for little or no money.
In the meantime, here are some fun applications you can try – it’ll get you used to using augmented reality, and maybe you’ll get some ideas of how you can eventually put this technology to use in your business.
Layar and Blippar, which I mentioned above, are pretty basic. These apps allow you to view or add simple content to printed advertisements or products. Not all the content is inspiring, but you can learn plenty about marketing from ads that aren’t very good. The software is free, and both are available for both Android and iOS.
Google Goggles is another free app. This one allows you to point your phone or tablet towards an object, initiating a Google search for information about that object. Want to know who painted that painting, or what that historic building is called? Check it out on Goggles. You’ll get lots of misfires but sometimes it’ll give you just the information you want.
And here are two more, just for fun: SkyMap lets you point your smartphone to the night sky and identify constellations and specific stars. And SpecTrek is a game that gives you points for zapping ghosts in your surroundings.
Someday these apps will probably look like Atari Pong looks to us now. The next generation will wonder what we saw in it. But in its day, Pong was pretty close to miraculous. Augmented reality gives us a new chance to experience the impossible. Don’t wait until it’s perfect. Enjoy it now.