This blog has been adapted from an article by Steve Deitz, President/Creative Director, 900lbs of Creative, and keynote speaker at the 2014 Print Leadership Summit, June 2–3,Dallas, TX.

Remember when companies first began talking about applying augmented reality to printed materials? What seemed like science fiction is becoming, well, reality, and providing some uniquely creative, engaging marketing pieces for companies.

If you’re not familiar, augmented reality adds new layers to the traditional print campaign. Using their mobile device, a reader scans a flat, 2D marker. The result is 3D virtual content that appears, simultaneously, layered on top of the 2D marker and the physical world. It also adds an additional layer of interactivity and creates a visual, tangible storytelling experience.

Basically, it blends the user’s physical world and digital content into a single, multidimensional image.

But does augmented reality really work in the real world? Well, try feeling the sensation of driving over rugged terrain or the experience of redesigning your homes—all through print!

Here are a few campaigns that showcase how companies are successfully marrying this technology with traditional print campaigns.

  • Drive a Land Rover

    How would you like to experience the adventure of driving a Land Rover vehicle? The car company designed a fold-out cover for the November 2013 issue of Esquire magazine that engaged readers with a white-knuckled virtual ride over rocky terrain. The cutting-edge spread featured three augmented reality-enabled pages that delivered a multi-sensory experience, including audio and vibration. Plus first-person perspective images gave readers the feeling they were in the driver’s seat. This campaign reached Blippar’s “Top 5 Most Liked/Shared” augmented reality experiences in history.
  • Try Before You Buy with IKEA

    No one enjoys buying a piece of furniture only to find it doesn’t fit in your house or go with your décor. IKEA created a solution. Using the IKEA app and their catalog as the marker, the company was able to let their customers “test drive” IKEA products in their homes before making a purchase. The results were thousands of customer-shared pictures posted on social media sites, and the campaign’s positive effects are still being felt today.

  • Imagine Your Lego Creation

    One of the first companies to put augmented reality into action, Lego created a package in 2009 that, when held up to a kiosk in their store, would display a 3D finished version of that product. The marker is the printed imagery on the front of the box. Today, kids and parents can get the same experience at home when they hold their mobile device in front of the Lego catalog and engage their imagination when they see what they can create. This feature has proven to be an effective sales tool for the company.

Looking toward the future, augmented reality is a reality for many companies, with uses from engagement marketing to displaying information about your surroundings, like Google Goggles (app available for Android and Apple) to staying connected with devices like smart glasses.

Whatever the medium, augmented reality applications will continue to expand. As printers this is an important trend to keep up on and discover ways you can use it to your advantage.

Learn more about Steve Deitz’s session, The New World of Experiential Marketing, at the 2014 Print Leadership Summit, happening June 2–3, in Dallas, TX.