Augmented reality (AR) is a new technology that adds a digital layer of information on top of objects and places in the real world. By pointing a smartphone or webcam to a QR code or any other AR-enabled object, people can engage and interact with various types of experiences created by other users or brands.
At first, many augmented reality based executions relied solely on the novelty of the experience rather than offering a practical use for the participant. Early AR experiences typically included a QR code that users could download, print and hold up to their computer's webcam to view a figure or animation on-screen.
However, AR has followed the Gartner hype cycle perfectly and, in doing so, has started to show its true importance in the real world. A number of brands have created executions that reflect this trend, including USPS, Pioneer, Moosejaw and H&M.
USPS created an AR app in 2009 that lets users determine which Priority Mail Flat Rate Box they need to ship items. This offering not only demonstrates that the brand is forward-thinking, but also benefits the customer by eliminating guesswork and potentially reducing time spent in-store.
Additionally, Pioneer created an AR-enabled, see-through display for cars that serves up info on road hazards, upcoming points of interest, directions and more. An app on the driver's smartphone connects with the laser display via Bluetooth to display the information on topof the road.