What is Augmented Reality? 5 Video Examples


Almost nothing can beat the look on someone’s face the first time they experience augmented reality (AR). It’s like watching a kid in a room full of puppies. Because I’ve been surrounded by AR for years now, it’s easy for me to forget that for someone who’s never seen it before, AR can seem like magic.

But what is augmented reality and how can you apply it to your business? Here are five examples of how we’ve used AR in marketing.

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The award-winning and whimsical Ticonderoga Mill Storybook Mailer tells the story of the Ticonderoga mill, its unique location within Adirondack State Park, and Sylvamo's dedication to sustainability.

Let’s break down the AR knowledge we’ve gained by developing countless AR marketing campaigns for ourselves and our clients. We’ll start with the basics and then get into the nitty-gritty of what marketing, design, and print professionals need to know to get started with this interactive technology.

First of all, what IS augmented reality?

Augmented reality uses a device, usually a smartphone or tablet, to augment the real world. Think of it as adding an extra layer onto your physical surroundings. That layer could be an animation, a 3D model, or any combination of images, sound, and video that together create an immersive experience.

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The Sylvamo Accent TV was a hit at Adobe MAX.

What is the difference between augmented reality and virtual reality?

It can be hard to tell the difference between augmented reality and virtual reality (VR).These technologies are often grouped together because people who are interested in one are often interested in the other. Trekk is a case in point — we’re also really into VR

Whereas AR helps to enhance reality with the help of computer-generated visuals, VR is a full-on immersive experience. Here’s a video example that explains the similarities and differences between each:

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Virtual reality involves tricking the mind into experiencing a completely alternative world, one that is not really there. Today’s VR usually involves a wearable — a headset or glasses that you put on to block out the real world. Many of these headset experiences have an audio component to more fully immerse the viewer in the virtual world.

With AR, on the other hand, you’re still looking at the real world… just an enhanced version of it.  

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This augmented reality children’s book was written in partnership with Accent Opaque to tell the story of Apollo the Spacedog. 

One of the important differences between AR and VR is that augmented reality can be used as a bridge between the physical world and the digital one. When implemented with a marker — usually an image on a print piece — AR acts as a catalyst that moves the viewer from that print piece to a digital channel. To see what I mean, check out these postcards we created for thINK.

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A gamified AR experience creates a connection with live event attendees using an app so that the conversation can continue post-event.   

We call this our “paper to pixels” approach and we use it as part of our clients’ multi-channel marketing strategies. In a world of smartphones and on-demand e-commerce, it’s one of the best ways we’ve found to seamlessly transition a potential customer from print to digital in order to keep the conversation going.

Seems cool, but is it useful?

AR has infinite use cases across industries. Our prediction is that we’ll see it more and more frequently in healthcare and navigation, and just think about the applications in education. Developing a training manual? Imagine bringing the printed piece to life with augmented videos, 3D models, and voice instruction. It’s the multi-dimensional way that people experience most media these days, so why shouldn’t educators be able to harness this technology to reach more learners, with their unique learning styles?

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What if you could train people on flight technology in a hands-on way, using 3D models and videos that they could launch at any point during the experience?

We use it most often to help our clients reach a larger audience across more channels. When we’re all constantly connected via our smartphones, augmented reality is a way for marketers and printers to meet customers where they are.

How do I get started?

Our AR concepts are first and foremost about the communication strategy — what’s the message we want to deliver, and what’s the action we want the audience to take? Once we decide on that, our developers and designers work to bring the experience to life.  Want to dive further into AR? Learn more in our AR blog series right here:

Have yet to experience augmented reality? Download our Paper to Pixels app for iPhone or Android and experience the magic for yourself.

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