The Evolution of Augmented Reality in Digital OOH February 14, 2019 | Augmented Reality

This first appeared in Digital Signage Connection on 12th February 2019.

Jon Jones, Creative Technologist at Grand Visual discusses the evolution of Augmented Reality in Digital OOH and the need for constant innovation.
OOH Augmented Reality: In the Beginning

Pepsi MAX AR Bus Shelter UFO

Augmented Reality (AR) has leapt from the pages of sci-fi novels, onto our phones and virtually to the streets we walk on. In just over a decade, the use of AR has blossomed across a broad range of business disciplines and markets. In the advertising world, it has certainly made its mark, with the likes of Snapchat and Pokémon Go helping to bring AR into the mainstream.

But away from handheld devices, Augmented Reality has also come to carve out an impressive body of Digital Out-of-Home work – where the digital meets the real world. On a grander scale, public, large-format AR executions can immerse the audience in the theatre and spectacle, where people gather to watch and take part. AR on a large scale can be responsive and lifelike, helping marketers to create an emotional connection with consumers.

Consumers can meet and interact with their favourite TV characters, explore new products or become the main protagonist of the story. The result is positive brand associations and better recall. So OOH Augmented Reality is perfect for both sales performance and brand awareness. There’s the social outreach too. With footage and UGC content gaining traction online, extending the life of the campaign and providing engaging content for online and social channels.

OOH Augmented Reality: Through the Ages

Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse digital OOH augmented reality

In terms of Out of Home Augmented Reality events, it all began in 2009 with Hand from Above. This was followed by Lynx Angel Ambush, the first large-format branded AR execution to run OOH. It was pioneering for its time and won widespread industry approval as well as being applauded by the public. Shortly after saw Disney Parks ‘Memories’ pushing the boundaries with live-action characters augmented into Times Square, with multiple participants taking part simultaneously.

Other notable examples through the ages have been Heineken in Taiwan 2011, Nat Geo in 2011, WWF in London 2014, The Walking Dead in Madrid 2014 Pepsi MAX in 2015, NTUC Fairprice in Singapore 2016 and Ocean Outdoor’s Emotion Triggered activation in 2017. All advancing different approaches and techniques, the success of these campaigns shows that there is still a real appetite for large-scale immersive Augmented Reality experiences.

DOOH Augmented Reality: Top 4 Tips

Coke Augmented Reality

Tip 1: Environment
Each environment is unique and tailoring your execution to each location is vital. There are many considerations from the available space, screen size, footfall, to light conditions and dwell times, and the list goes on. Depending on the size of the location there may be additional demands for floor vinyls, crowd control, and brand ambassadors. In addition, complications can arise in the form of fluctuating light levels and perspective breach. It is tending to these variations and the attention to detail that really makes the spectacle.

Tip 2: Technology
Every technical build is unique. The key to quality results is quality hardware and innovative implementation. More captivating experiences can be made by fusing different technologies, both hardware, and software, together for a big experiential installation. Keeping it streamlined, however, is best for a scalable roll-out.

Tip 3: Engagement
To make OOH Augmented Reality executions engaging and memorable; the more interactive, the better the results. For example, employing face-tracking software can greatly increase interactivity without introducing barriers for entry thus keeping it an easy to use, ergonomic experience. Again, it’s innovative thinking and development that’s key here; face-tracking is just one example but there’s a whole world of gyroscopes, accelerometers, 3D cameras, RFID and other sensors & software libraries out there.

Tip 4: Execution
The quality of Augmented Reality creative is a key factor in the impact and success of any AR activation. In OOH environments this requires a unique creative skill set, marrying and developing hardware and software solutions to tackle the varied challenges. This is a large part of a Creative Technologist’s role, and at Grand Visual we have a broad spectrum of creative, technical and coding backgrounds to draw from. For agencies that don’t have this internal resource, it’s essential to get a reliable partner involved to provide you with an experienced team to define what AR setup is the most suitable for the project requirements.

OOH Augmented Reality: What’s Next?

A Disney shadows augmented reality digital out of home campaign.

Over the last few years, OOH campaigns with Augmented Reality production elements have garnered increasing amounts of attention. Creatively and technically we are still at the tip of the iceberg, but over the next 12 months, we expect to see further developments and add-ons that build on top of augmented reality techniques, such as mixed or mediated reality and increased interactivity. Keeping at the forefront of cutting edge technologies is what makes all the difference to a successful campaign.

The hard work of introducing the technology to the masses has been done, the appetite from both brands and consumers alike is there – now the challenge is to continue to innovate whilst delivering quality events that resonate with the audience. It’s an exciting place to work and I for one can’t wait to continue pushing the boundaries of Augmented Reality in all its variations across the DOOH landscape.

Interested in finding out more?