The recent announcement of developments in augmented reality (AR) for the world’s leading mobile AR platform, Layar, will make it possible to tag reality with links to information discovery that will allow us to fully interact with the objects around us.  The digital marketing implications coincide with the developing strategies used for QR codes, but with AR there is no need to affect the ascetics of the image itself to incorporate a readable format.

The AR technology referred to as Layar Vision operates like Google Goggles where smartphone users can scan an object and receive information linked to the object.  The difference is that Google Goggles will direct the user to a Google search engine results page where Layar Vision provides an opportunity for developers to present a deeper experience with the object, such as launching audio, video, a 3-D overlay, or even special promotions when an ad, article, publication cover, etc. is scanned.

Layar technology is already available on 10 million mobile devices and the Layar Vision features will be added to iPhones and Androids in Q4 with the Layar Playar program.  The developments that Layar is introducing for augmented reality will transform AR from an intriguing technological toy to a utility that will revolutionize information discovery because it will change the way the world engages with its surroundings.

For an object itself to be a tag that is recognized by the Layar browser, the object must be registered in Layar’s database. With any new technology there are issues of how the general public is going to be aware of, and utilize, its existence.  I was recently reading the Fast Company article written in response to Layar’s AR developments before meeting a friend for lunch.  When I was discussing the article with my friend I used QR codes as a means of comparison to explain the functionality of the new technology for advertising and was surprised that he did not know what a QR code was.  Luckily it took all of 15 seconds to flip through the magazine and show him an example of a code and he revealed he had just seen a commercial with 3 QR codes displayed on the screen available for various smartphones.  Even with their recognizable attributes and expansive presence, the codes themselves are still clearly under-utilized.

Although QR codes can be a clumsy way of initiating engagement between consumers and advertisements, the fact that they are recognizable is an asset.   With AR the benefits of being able to make any object interactive are drastically reduced by the simple fact that it’s impossible to know if an object has been registered with Layar.  The consistent increase in social media engagement may be part of the solution for associating an object with AR.  Or possibly incorporating a reference to AR on an object until the technology takes off.  In any case, the benefits the AR revolution could have on digital marketing is clear, but until there is a strategy for alerting consumers to Layar Vision’s link to an object it would be a waste of digital marketing spending.