We Need More Discussion on Augmented Reality

We are starting to see more and more augmented reality (AR) applications these days. This is the case both in our everyday lives and in the project queue for printers.

  • When you scan the welcome card for a family travel destination, an animated character pops up, talking to you about the exciting adventures your family has planned and all the fun you will have.
  • When you scan the page of the children’s toy catalog, you can watch a video of children playing on an outdoor jumparoo and see exactly how it works and why it is so much fun.
  • When seasonal amusement park employees are sitting in the training room in January or February, they can take an interactive and experiential tour of the park as it will look when they are on site.

These are a few of the projects I have come across lately, and there are many more. It’s starting to be more common. As such, it’s something that printers need to be thinking about potentially adding to their marketing arsenals. But AR isn’t a one size fits all. There are many categories of AR, and in order to determine whether it’s right for you (and your client base), it’s important to understand the different buckets and how they translate into the types of projects you could produce.
Here are some of them:
1. Interactive search. We tend to think of AR as being triggered by images on printed documents or images on a screen. But they can be triggered by real objects such as landmarks and storefronts, as well.
Whether the person is scanning a page or an environment, the act of scanning launches a variety of content from images and videos to e-commerce sites, phone dialers, and push pins that jump the user to a second level of contact. While printers aren’t likely to be creating search apps, they may be able to help their clients develop the content that will be found once the AR marker is activated.
2. Immersive experiences. When we think immersion, we think of gaming. But immersive AR experiences can be used for training and simulation, too, and both are within the bailiwick of many marketing service providers. If you are already printing the training manuals, for example, why not develop an AR-triggered training video that can be launched from the manual’s pages to allow readers to go deeper if they desire?
3. Marketing. Many of these applications are similar to what we talk about with QR Codes except they offer direct access to the content rather than requiring that user to go through a browser. You can also add pop-up and immersive functionality depending on the level of sophistication. In one pilot logistics project, DHL Supply Chain used “smart glasses” to show task information during the picking process. This includes aisle, product location and quantity. Overall, 10 order pickers used the equipment and picked more than 20,000 items, fulfilling 9,000 orders within the given time frame. As a result, staff was able to operate much faster and error free. Wouldn’t you like to be the printer producing the labels on that job?
4. Document decryption. AR can be used to decrypt documents with secure information. Xerox is among the companies that has applied for patents on this process:
A document presentation system routes a document having sensitive data to various users, wherein the various users have different levels of permission to access the sensitive data. When any user displays the document on a display of an electronic device . . . that sensitive data is replaced with an augmented reality (AR) marker. The AR marker may include a descriptor of the class of data to which the sensitive data belongs. The system will also display an AR overlay for each AR marker. For each user, the AR overlay for each AR marker will include none, some, or all of the sensitive data corresponding to the AR marker. The amount of the sensitive data that will be displayed will depend on the user’s authorization level.
If you’re a financial printer, this is for you.
5. Product authentication. By using secure AR markers (rather than simple image recognition), manufacturers or users of manufacturers’ products can authenticate their products simply by scanning the packaging or label. This is a powerful way to help your customers to crack down on counterfeit products such as medications, cosmetics, auto parts, toys, and electronic components.
Augmented isn’t just for silly games or pop-up videos on table tents or fast food packaging anymore. It is a mature technology with tremendous commercial applications, many of which are applicable to printers and their customers. If you haven’t taken the time to really think about what AR can do for your business, it’s time to start.

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