Augmented reality is changing the way we look at marketing and advertising.
If you didn’t know already, augmented reality (AR) is the technology that expands our physical world, adding layers of digital information onto it. You’re probably already familiar with AR - have you ever used a filter on Snapchat or Instagram?
This year more than any other, brands are utilising AR experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic to give their consumers interactive and engaging experiences, wherever they are.
A bit of history - the first AR technology was developed in 1968, but the first commercial use didn’t appear until 2008. This groundbreaking use of AR came in the form of a printed magazine ad of a model BMW Mini, which, when held in front of a computer’s camera, also appeared on the screen.
We’ve come a long way since that first use of AR, and since then, hundreds of brands have been experimenting with AR technology.
Here are 10 cool examples (in no particular order) that we found from this year!
Amazon | Baby Laser Tag
Starting off strong - have you ever wanted to shoot bad guys with baby laser vision? Earlier this year, Amazon Prime Video gave fans of its dark superhero series The Boys a chance to blast villains with its augmented-reality game app. The game, called Baby Laser Tag, is based on the plot of the series’ second season. Players can take on agents of the villainous corporation at the center of the show and its corrupted superheroes while collecting objects central to the story of the new season.
There is only one objective: “Survive as long as you can and just blast everything.”
Laser Baby Tag is available on the App Store and Google Play in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.
Gucci | Shoe Try-On
Are you a baller on a budget? AR met fashion earlier this year when Snapchat and Gucci launched their first global sponsored augmented reality shoe try-on lens. Snapchatters were able to “try on” the Gucci Ace, Gucci Rhyton, Gucci Tennis 1977 and Gucci Screener, bringing luxury street style into the digital world.
Later this year, Snapchat partnered with luxury brand Dior to introduce its new B27 sneaker. Snapchatters who accessed the lens could “try on” six different pairs of Dior sneakers via AR to see how they looked wearing them, and they could also purchase the items via the brand’s Snapchat profile or website. Snapchat showed that AR is a great way for everyone to experience new technology and high fashion using just their smartphone!
Print Cakes | AR Cupcakes
Did this innovation get the attention it deserved at the time? Absolutely not. But it’s butter late than never! UK company Print Cakes teamed up with Aircards to create the world’s first app-less augmented reality cupcakes. Who wouldn’t want AR treats at their next event?
Hungry party-goers could scan the printed edible discs with their phone camera, which took them to a website where they could see the cupcakes in AR. While this example was intended for corporate events, we think there is huge potential in the realm of AR desserts. We’ll definitely “knead” these at our next party!
Ford | Expert in 0-60
What’s an unexpected yet surprisingly perfect use for augmented reality? Luxury car tours! Earlier this year, Ford launched a series of 10 short Instagram videos that allowed users to superimpose the Ford Mustang anywhere. Ford engineers then gave viewers a tour of its Mustang Mach-E electric vehicles from the comfort of their homes. The campaign, called “Expert in 0-60,” was produced by BBDO. We’re ready to get on board!
New York Times | The Truth Is Essential
AR isn’t just for entertainment - this technology can make a huge political and educational impact. The New York Times teamed up with creative agency Droga5 and media agency Hearts & Science on its first ever Snapchat lens aimed at targeting the U.S. presidential election. Their election-focused content was a continuation of their ‘The Truth Is Essential’ campaign. When users opened the lens in world view, they were immersed in a 360-degree AR photojournalism experience, where they could explore 25 images and tap on them to access the Times content. The filter was a dynamic way for U.S. citizens to stay informed.
Sportsmanias | Lebron James Dance
In celebration of the NBA Finals earlier this year, fans could root for the Los Angeles Lakers with AR! Fans superimposed LeBron James doing some of his signature dance moves on their photos and videos and shared them in Facebook Stories, Instagram Reels and Instagram Stories. We guess you could call this campaign... a slam dunk.
Tim Hortons | Halloween Filters
Canadian fast-food restaurant Tim Hortons became the first brand to take advantage of Snapchat’s new 3-D full body tracking technology for AR lenses. They launched two lenses in time for the spooky holiday: a 3-D full body AR lens that made it look like you’re wearing a box of Timbits, and a lens that looked like you had a bunch of Timbits on your eyes. Tim Hortons gave Snapchat users the chance to trick or treat yo' self!
Google | Baby Yoda - 3D Search Results
Baby Yoda was the latest addition to come to your Google Search! In the spring, Google added anatomical, biological and NASA models to its collection of 3D objects, which joined a bunch of much-loved AR animals like tigers and cats. More recently Google also included dinosaurs, but Baby Yoda was probably the most talked about addition yet.
On your phone, search for "Baby Yoda," "Grogu," or "The Child" on Google using a mobile device and tap “View in 3D” to rotate or zoom in and see it up close. You can then bring the 3D object into your space with AR and adjust its size to understand how big it is in relation to the things around you. Crank up the volume and you'll even hear Grogu's signature gurgling noises!
Central Saint Martins | 5G Fashion Show
At London Fashion Week 2020, British telecommunications and internet service provider Three, in collaboration with Central Saint Martins, produced the world’s first 5G mixed-reality runway. With the help of spatial audio, haptic feedback, a 46-meter projection for the runway, and a set of aromas, the guests of the event heard, felt, and even smelt the scent of the collection. In the show finale, Vogue cover star Adwoa Aboah walked the runway as an AR model! Way to strike a pose.
Pot Noodle | Virtual Career Fair
Right now, employment is the first thing on a lot of people's minds - especially for recent college graduates. While physical career fairs are not currently a possibility, Pot Noodle partnered with Gradbay, a marketplace which connects students and graduates with businesses, to host a number of virtual careers fairs in May and June. These career fairs could be accessed through web-based augmented reality. They even featured an animated DJ booth with music playing!
So which AR example from 2020 was your favorite? Are there any examples that we didn't include that you loved from this year? Please let us know! #PlayBeyondReality