Sometimes we come across a technology that is so innovative, with such endless possibilities, and is so generally “cool” that we can’t help but share it with everyone else – Augmented Reality (AR) is one of those technologies.
What is that you ask? Utilizing web cam & 3D modeling technology, you can think of AR technology as kind of like a computer-aided hologram – a way for you to manipulate digital information in the real world – all of which is controlled by a simple “marker” image which is recognized by your computer web cam.
Need some examples? Check out this advertisement for the Mini Cooper by BMW, which let users interact with a virtual Mini, or this ad for GE’s recently launched “Smart Grid” technology which lets you interact with a virtual environment powered by green technology.
The reason I mention this technology is the opportunity it brings to engage consumers in a fresh and interesting way, and ultimately bring them online where you can market to them more effectively. Considering the fact that print advertising is still a major component of many real estate professionals marketing plans, what is stopping you from sending out a postcard (perhaps from a fantastic service like Expresscopy) with an AR code which directs consumers to your website where they can interact with your advertising and messaging?
Sure, this might alienate those consumers who do not have access to the technology (read: web cam) needed to participate, but I would be willing to bet my bottom dollar that the conversion rate for those consumers who did participate would more than make up for it.
So how can you make your own AR advertising pieces? For beginners, you can create your own AR scenes with Google Sketch Up, the free 3D modeling program, and a plug in called AR-media which lets you manipulate your creation in physical space. Check out this sample below which I was able to cobble together in just a few minutes! For the more adventurous, you can create your own “marker” images here, and use this guide to create your own embeddable AR scenes using open-source software .