There’s been lots of talk about augmented reality (AR) over the past couple of years and, with the rise of the iPhone, 2010 has been identified as the year it could really become a mainstream proposition.
For those of you who don’t know or understand the concept of AR, quite simply it’s adding extra information and features to your field of vision to enhance your understanding.
An example that’s already in use on TV is the virtual yellow line that was used during swimming events at the Olympics to show the current world record time, compared with the race you’re watching.
So far, augmented reality hasn’t gone properly mainstream, but this week’s Grazia magazine has taken a large step in that direction.
Using cover star Florence Welch from Florence and the Machine, you can download an iPhone app or use your webcam and see her come to life and start singing on the cover. Then there are further ‘augmented experiences’ inside the magazine.
The idea is ambitious and the fact that’s it’s one of the most popular women’s magazines on the market shows a willingness by the usually-slow offline publishing world to embrace new technologies.
Clearly, they have an eye on expanding revenue streams in the future, yet it’s basically a direct rip-off of something US Esquire did back in November 2009.
What’s interesting, though, is that it’s not really augmented reality, as we’ve come to expect it in the tech world. In Grazia and Esquire’s case, it’s more behind the scenes video. The whole joy of AR is to superimpose something onto your natural view.
The new Get London Reading campaign has done this brilliantly with an iPhone app that floats relevant book covers onto the London street you’re standing in, eg Sherlock Holmes books, if you’re in Baker Street.
Taking things one step further is the amazing work done by Bing Maps and showcased at this year’s TED conference back in February.
Blaise AgÃ¼era y Arcas heads up the team at Microsoft, who have created the wonderful AR technology that is possible via Bing Maps, and his talk, below, left many onlookers breathless.
This kind of functionality is only the beginning and, while Grazia’s move is a bold one for magazines, it shows the gulf between different markets’ perception of what augmented reality really is.