How we consume content has changed drastically over the last ten years. What we watch, how we learn and how we discover was once confined to books, movies, TV and radio.  You read it. You heard it. Or you watched it.  With the rapid advancement of technology through hardware, software, platforms, data speeds and access, our content consumption ability and habits have matured.  We are able to fit pockets of consumption into timeboxes as short as six-seconds on social platforms, and as long as 13-hours for streaming long-form video.  Platforms have been built (Netflix, App Store, Spotify) to meet this need and others have changed to meet this behavior (Disney, HBO, Comcast).  They are all successful because they meet our human desire and expectation for story-telling.  They also meet our human desire for connection.  Whether it’s at the concert, or the fan event or at the coffee shop, great content breeds connection. The magic is made when you can combine connection with an experience.

The fact is, Augmented Reality is the technology uniquely positioned and best suited to combine connection with experience.  Here are three defined ways AR is changing content:

  1. AR lets you overlay the digital world onto the real world, making the canvas for creativity unlimited. Snapchat Lenses let creators enhance communication and connection with friends and family by adding a digital layer onto selfies. It’s a great use of the front-facing camera enhanced by the sensors that map your face so well.  However, when we turn the rear-facing camera to the world, we open up the possibility for even deeper experiences.
  2. The content creation opportunity for AR lies in the people, places and things that can be transported across time and space.  American Express’s Outside In uses volumetric AR video, a technique in which a three-dimensional scene can be captured, to allow us to bring Justin Timberlake into our living room and experience the creativity he poured into his album for ourselves.  AR portals allow us to step into a virtual scene where we are the subject and digital characters interact with us through AI.  Beyond JT, Game of Thrones, Spiderman, Harry Potter, Pokémon and more have all tapped AR as a story-telling medium to promote their upcoming releases. AR has also transformed museum experiences by using exhibits to unlock educational experiences that lets visitors to go deeper into the history and stories behind the art and artifacts.
  3. While movies and television have typically been the best shared experience, the next generation of AR experiences will create more extensions of this connection.  This year, AR will bring a large-scale shared experience to devices around the world through “JFK Moonshot”  –  a first-of-its-kind AR documentary app to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch and 5-day mission. Available for download on May 29th, on what would have been President Kennedy’s 102nd birthday, the app invites users to time travel to 1969 with a the 30-story tall Saturn V Rocket. This will be an AR powered livestream experience over 5-days—the same length of the actual mission. Users will be able to take a deeper dive into President Kennedy’s vision for the moonshot and the space program with interactive AR games, archival video footage and historic artifacts from Kennedy’s time as President. This app will allow anyone to dig deeper to experience the incredible STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) that went into the mission by placing the virtual rocket and a spatial recreation of the trip from Earth to Moon right in their living room.

Bottom Line

As a content medium, AR is now on the cusp of moving from experimentation to scale with the very real ability to reach the masses as content takes a variety of forms.  In the US in 2019, it’s expected that 68.7 million people will use AR at least once a month, so what was once novel has now become essential.  We are already using AR to shop for furniture and cars, take augmented selfies and follow directions.  Pretty soon, we’ll have a much richer library of augmented reality experiences that we can launch from our smartphone or smart glasses anywhere and everywhere.

Read more insights from Digitas here.

Author: Keith Soljacich, VP/Group Director, Experiential Technology, Digitas