It is safe to assume that many of you have heard of Pokémon Go. There are arguments both for and against this wildly popular mobile application which (according to pro Pokémon folks) encourages people to “catch em all” and get out, explore places they never would have, and meet new people with common interests. Others see it as just another excuse for people to walk around staring at their smartphones all day and missing the scenery around them. You may think that the technology behind Pokémon is new, but it is not. The truth is that Augmented Reality (AR) apps have been around for several years. In fact the USPS and companies such as IKEA have been successfully using AR apps to enhance their catalogs and other printed material since 2013.
AR is a live view of the physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, or graphics. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. AR adds graphics, sounds, and sometimes smells to the natural world as it exists. Everyone from tourists, to catalog shoppers, to someone looking for Pokémon can now benefit from the ability to place computer-generated graphics in their field of vision.
Augmented Reality can also be used with direct mail to seamlessly blend offline and online marketing. It allows mail to do more than simply deliver messages on a page. When combined with digital channels and the latest mobile technology it allows a quick scan, swipe, or tap of a smartphone to automatically connect recipients to your business and turns a mail piece into a gateway to personalized content, promotions, experiences and more.
Combining AR with print marketing allows anyone with a smartphone or tablet to transform the printed material into a live 3D video experience simply by pointing their webcam at it. AR draws consumers into a personalized retail experience by overlaying a new digital world onto the physical world. It turns 2D into 3D, giving consumers a reason to engage with and hold onto a promotional piece. AR can instantly transform a static direct mail piece into anything from a virtual shopping trip, vacation experience, swing of the bat, or the personification of the product simply by scanning an image, photo, or code.