During the "App möter papp" ("App meets cardboard" seminar in 2012, open innovation arenas Packbridge and Media Evolution were given the opportunity to experience how the packaging industry and digital media can work together in a completely new way. Among other things, they were introduced to the concept of augmented reality by marketer Michaela Schmied from the company Augmented Event in Malmö.
– Augmented reality is a visual means of presentation that allows you to marry computer graphics with what you are seeing live through a camera. The easiest way to explain the concept is by example, she says, citing Lego's global project by way of illustration:
In a model world
Imagine an ordinary toy shop. You pick up a box of Lego and hold it up to a TV screen on the wall. You see yourself projected on screen with the box you are holding. Suddenly, an animated Lego City emerges from the box while a completed Lego Helicopter buzzes around your head.
You have just experienced augmented reality – digital life in a filmed scene.
– The camera scans the package you're holding, so you don't need to press a special button. Just by standing in front of the screen, you get to see what the Lego kit will look like when it's built, she explains.
Label turns into recipe book
Augmented reality is always experienced on a screen of some kind. And it can just as easily be on a computer display, mobile phone or projection on a wall. If you want to use the technology via the camera on your mobile phone, you first need to download the right app.
– There isn't a common standard for it yet, like there is, for example, with QR codes. But several major suppliers are jostling for prime position at the moment.
Heinz, the ketchup manufacturers, have launched their own Augmented Reality application for this purpose in the USA. With the right app installed, you can scan the label on a ketchup bottle using the camera on your mobile phone – and then see the label transformed on screen into a digital, page-turnable recipe book.
– When you talk to people in the packaging industry, you find they're always looking for something new. It seems to be an inquisitive industry that likes to forge ahead and be at the forefront of innovation, she says.
This is only the beginning
Augmented reality is really nothing new. However, as it was originally more advanced to produce, and therefore more costly, it is no surprise to find that the technology has been used for military purposes longer than for anything else: for example, a fighter pilot can view information inside his or her visor that is digitally imposed "on top" of the reality they can already see.
In 2007, however, the technology became cheaper and simpler to use, since when the concept has spread throughout the world.
– All this is only the beginning. Although it may become even easier to produce the technology, the concept of mixing digital images with reality will be developed into more and better services. Developments in general, both in terms of behaviour, marketing and technology, are moving towards more and more digital interactivity, says Schmied.
Ikea has used the technology to digitally furnish homes, a tool that allows you to try out furniture in your own home. Norway's Yellow Pages have also released an app where you can film the street you are standing on and then have directions, with arrows and information concerning the address or surrounding shops, imposed on to the real picture.
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