February 5, 2017

Augmented Reality Bites – AR is going mainstream

Lisa Kerrigan - Client Services Director

Augmented Reality is going mainstream – and heading for your daily life!

You would have to live high in the hills to avoid the inescapable force of nature that is Pokémon Go. Not only did it add billions to Nintendo’s market value overnight, it propelled us into a new perspective on our reality. Such is its popularity, that one day as I stood at the office window musing over a new client strategy; I spotted one of our obsessed digital team members darting around the car park trying to catch one of his colourful virtual buddies…

Keen to capture and capitalise on the excitement of such an interactive experience, there’s been a dramatic increase in interest from clients keen to include Augmented Reality apps into their digital marketing mix. Most of our clients know their audiences are now digital natives and, in response need to apply the newest digital technologies to achieve the highest levels of engagement.

For many of Switzerland’s largest companies and organisations, the question for 2017 is how to use leading-edge digital tools to make communications more memorable, more unique – and to bring audiences closer.

Over the next decade, literally every company will compete on the basis of experience. In fact, they already do – most just don’t realise what that really means, what’s at stake, or how to do it well. -Forrester

Augmented reality (AR) apps are not about creating a new reality, they are about working with and enhancing what already exists. When the virtual is combined with the physical and visually interacts with it, that’s when AR magic happens. As opposed to virtual reality, which immerses you into a different world, AR intertwines virtual, interactive visual elements with the real world.

It’s estimated that this growing industry will be worth over CHF120 billion by 2020, and that’s despite the minimal investment needed by audiences to experience augmented reality! All you need is your smartphone, your tablet or computer.

I do think that a significant portion of the population of developed countries, and eventually all countries, will have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day. It will become that much a part of you -Tim Cook, Apple CEO

The crucial part of advising on AR is whether or not it brings value to your audiences. Most of us – in this all-consuming digital age – don’t want gimmicks and games and we all get tired of scanning brand logos and watching ads. But would it be useful to hold your phone above a magazine advert and immediately experience how a new sofa might fit into your home?

Chris Shiels, Head of Technology at Media Frontier shares his passion for the future of marketing with AR apps; ‘The possibilities for businesses in Switzerland to improve their interactions with audiences and customers are endless. I would love people to be able to point their phones at a building or business park and see the available recruitment opportunities, or to hold your phone to a new product and have it explain itself and its benefits. We as consumers are a pretty savvy lot. We don’t just buy brands for what they are anymore, but for what they can propose to do for us’.

AR offers a leap towards the revolutionary in communication, interaction and information enhancement and could change the fabric of our day-to- day lives.  Augmented Reality – as an emerging technology that’s already here – has the potential to impact our future just as much as the smartphone has in the last few years. Let’s hope marketeers realise its potential for making their audiences lives a whole lot easier!


So how can AR become part of your daily life without becoming irritating? There are a surprising number of ways that don’t just involve rushing around collecting little Japanese digital creations (although the same colleague did lose 4kg of weight in a month with all that running)!



I’ll never forget arriving in Colmar for my first French exchange experience armed with my pocket Larousse. While it’s a fond memory, Google Translate would have solved all my worries. But why does it need AR? Open the new app and hold your phone up to a public sign or notice board. You’ll get a full translation without typing anything.



One of the biggest requests we get is how to make brochures, annual reports or products more engaging. This is where the MF team gets excited. Hold your phone over that static graph or map and see it magically come to life – making it more understandable and memorable. Allowing AR to bring life to static text and images is one of the easiest new opportunities for improving audience experience. Favourite fun AR app? Scan a Vespa ad and test-drive a little two wheeler across your desk!



Switzerland is blessed with fantastic museums and galleries, many with great audio tours and displays. But if you limit the experience to what you can see and hear, it’s only part of the picture…Look at the AR trend at the London Science Museum for a glimpse of what the technology offers.



Avoid Saturday shopping and see if that new sofa works in your living room. IKEA has been using this fun and hugely time-saving functionality for a while now.



Colouring with crayons is a rainy day activity for children everywhere -but wouldn’t it be nice if those pages actually did something? Enter Crayola Color Alive.

This free app literally takes your drawings off the page. Scan coloured pages into the app, and kids aren’t just creating a colouring page — they’re making animated characters that move and interact!



If arriving at Zürich central Bahnhof with zero Swiss German has you breaking into a sweat (like me …) check out an app to make your public transport life that bit easier. Point your phone towards the nearest stop and see relevant destination information overlaid into the real world! Plus real-time updates on arrivals/departures.

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