a promotion they produced for Samsung which gave users a unique look at a new device from the company. With thousands of people flocking to Vancouver for this year's Olympics, the games have again taken to augmented reality for some unique and immersive marketing opportunities.At the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, digital advertising development studio Inition brought augmented reality (AR) to the games with
Yahoo! and top AR development house Total Immersion have teamed up to provide an interactive information kiosk at the "Yahoo! Fancouver" exhibit. The experience involves a three paneled screen with sections for news, weather and medal counts, along with a camera pointed at the user. Depending on where the user is standing, the AR software will place various hats and accessories on their head; ie: a press hat for the news section, or hats with country logos on them for the medal count section. The weather section places various weather related accessories on the user, such as wool caps, visors, sunglasses, and goofy umbrella hats.
Vancouver-based social media blogger, author and speaker Shane Gibson snapped the video below demonstrating the interactive AR display which is located in Yaletown, a borough within the Canadian city.
The experience, which also supports some brochure tracking features, is an entertaining way to draw the attention of the event's attendees while also providing them with useful information about the games. Facial tracking is nothing new for Total Immersion, who provided similar services for a Transformers promotion that placed a robotic helmet on users' heads. Others AR developers have used facial tracking for applications as well, including metaio's hockey mask promotion at the Xcel Energy Center in Minneapolis, and FittingBox's "virtual mirror" for Ray Ban Sunglasses.
The thing I like about this example of facial tracking AR is that - like the Ray Ban promotion - it provides a practical service along with the entertaining and interactive aspect. Users aren't simply walking up to a screen an having a 2010 Olympics hat stuck on their head, much like the Transformers or hockey mask promotions. Yes, the hats and accessories are a bit silly, but the addition of news, weather and medal count information makes the use more practical. The AR draws the attention of passers-by with its fun and gimmicks, but rewards them with actual useful information to take with them. A user walks away knowing what countries lead the medal count and what the weather will be like based on the AR hats that were placed on them.
I wouldn't be surprised to see a hat manufacturer like NewEra take note of this promotion and provide an interactive way for potential customers to model their various hat styles with either an in-store kiosk or with an at-home web-based solution. Facial and body tracking is an excellent use of augmented reality for fashion retailers, as we have already seen applications for users to try on sun glasses, shoes, clothing, jewelry, make-up and hairstyles. Imagine the private dressing rooms at department stores being replaced by AR "virtual mirrors" for a faster, more social way to try on new outfits. The possibilities are endless, but what or who will be next?