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What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality is not a new concept, but its applications in the world of business are still in a developing stage and are on the edge of seeing tremendous growth as far as their frequency and types of uses. You’ve likely heard of virtual reality, but fewer people are familiar with augmented reality. Both are used to enhance a person’s perception of reality, but their interaction with actual reality is what differentiates them.

Virtual reality creates an artificial, computer-generated simulation of a real-life environment for a user. It appeals to a person’s senses including vision and hearing to make the person feel like he or she is in an alternate situation than the one he or she is actually in.

Augmented reality, on the other hand does not create an entirely artificial environment. Instead, it integrates digital elements with a user’s actual environment in real time. Augmented reality takes an existing real-world environment and overlays artificial, computer-generated information on top of it. The information can appear in the form of video, graphics, sound or other data.

The term “augmented reality” was first coined by Boeing researcher Thomas Caudelll in 1990. He used it to describe how the head-mounted displays that electricians use when assembling complicated wire harnesses worked. One of the initial most recognizable forms of augmented reality was the yellow first down line that started appearing on televised football games in the late 1990s.

How is it triggered? Augmentation is delivered in real-time and in context with triggering elements such as still photographs, building architecture or art installations. A triggering element can exist on a brochure, poster, computer screen or as a real-world three-dimensional object. These trigger images or objects can launch video, sound or other imagery.

The way we trigger images for our clients is through the use of custom apps. After creating a custom app for a client, we will then key and host images and corresponding assets to allow augmented reality to work. A user simply has to download a business’ app, and then through that app he or she will be able to hold it up to a trigger image or object and watch it launch into another form of media.

The best way to understand how augmented reality works is to see it for yourself. Check out this example that created for our client, Southwest Paper:

  • Download the PackageAR app. It is available for free on iOS and Android.
  • Visit
  • Scroll down to “click for a demo” on the right of the screen and click.
  • In the PackageAR app, click “view now.”
  • Hold your phone or tablet screen so that you are looking through it to the Southwest Carton image.
  • The image should trigger into a video. If it will not trigger, you may be holding your device too close to the image. Try pulling back a little.
  • Experience augmented reality in action!

Augmented reality can be a creative and innovative way to engage your clients while standing out as a technological entrepreneur in the eyes of your competitors. In next week’s blog, we will explore the specific ways that you can use augmented reality to enhance your business. Stay tuned!

For more insight into the world of digital marketing and advertising, continue to follow the McNutt & Partners blog. To get in touch with us, visit our contact page!


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