Augmented reality (AR) has been a dreamy buzzword but one for which few consumers have thoroughly come to appreciate the potential. The reason, of course, is that it’s a developing technology/industry. Every new app seems to offer a glimmer of something great…and then a week later…meh.
Last week I was thrilled to show the other editors here how I used an AR app called Aurasma
to connect my business card to a photo of me. Open the app, get my business card in your smartphone's camera view and then voila! an image of me (Jessica Biel) appears over the card.
Aurasma was cool—the clear potential at meetings, you ask? After the event you could hold your smartphone up to the business card of someone who has used the app appropriately and see an image or even short video of the person. But in the AR world, that’s so last week.
...Because last night I received an invite to the closed beta testing of Google’s massively multiplayer AR game Ingress. People started receiving invitations to play the game on Nov. 15, and there are somehow already more than 30 million registered players around the world and people are complaining about not having received an invite yet. Thirty million people in two weeks have adopted a brand new game that many of you have yet to even hear of. That's amazing in and of itself.
With Ingress, users select a side, the Enlightened or the Resistance (which is more important, enlightenment or freedom?). Then there are all sorts of geeky tasks that must be played out in real space—use the game on your smartphone to identify an enemy “portal” (often a piece of public art, architecture or other stunning landmarks and places of note all over the world) and then “hack” the portal to gain points, weapons and potentially to overtake it. Users are running around in the real world with bogus monikers; that person standing next to you at the bus stop might be an enemy…or perhaps an important leader on your own side.*
“That’s great Michael, thanks for the rant about smartphone games, but why should I care?”
Ingress wants you to get out there and start exploring your world. Sure, it’s wrapped in an outstanding game concept (and it really is outstanding), but wise CVBs and event planners will begin pushing this game once it’s open to the public and integrating it into the experience of visitors and conference attendees. While it’s not an info-filled tour of a city, it is a compelling reason to tour any city.
There are already decent AR apps to educate users about various places and things all over the world, but Ingress makes the journey a joy.
If you’re a meeting professional interested in how Ingress could be incorporated in your business, feel free to contact me as this is an AR tool with a great deal of business and leisure potential...a tricky combination...and it's got my attention. First, you may want to request an invite to the game (only for Android smartphones right now, but an iPhone version is said to be "coming soon").
*Philip K. Dick would love the paranoia to potentially develop from this…
Image: (CC) korafotomorgana