As part of research for a feature on Augmented Reality, we spoke to Not to Scale directors UBIK in February 2009
Fired By Design: AR, what is it good for? Is it just a gimmick or are there serious applications? Where can you see it being used for practical purposes?
UBIK: It definitely isn’t a gimmick. And I think it is here to stay in one form or another. Whereas Virtual Reality, which was hailed as the future of the UI and TV and all sorts, has died a bit of a death as as an immersive technology, I think AR is here to stay primarily because it is not immersive, it doesn’t cut you off from the real world as VR did. So it has much more scope for real world applications.
FBD: What are the most exciting creative possibilities of AR?
UBIK:Not that either of us are experts, but the possibilities are pretty much limitless to a degree aren’t they? With GPS, Wifi, cameras and accelerometers in most modern mobile phones you could potentially add any content you can possibly imagine to the camera image.
For us I think its the mobile content that is the most exciting as it has the potential for on-the-fly, tracked moving content. Animations etc. that are overlayed and reacting in real time to the real world. The viewer will not be stuck in front of a webcam. Just imagine, in a few short years we will be able to roam around, looking slightly foolish, iPhone at arms length while we watch invaders from Mars take over the streets of Soho (fingers crossed).
FBD: How accessible is AR to creatives rather than developers? What design skills are required? What do they need to get involved?
UBIK:We’ve been batting this around for a while now – and I think the challenge for us (and indeed film-makers and advertisers in general) lies in finding a way of integrating AR into a film in a way that is appropriate rather than it just being a technique driven exercise. We’ve been writing an idea that hopefully shows off the technique as well as being a valid piece of film making.
From the simple tests we’ve done, it’s obvious that we’ll need a huge amount of collaboration with people much cleverer than us, in order to make our animation do what we want it to do.
FBD: How do you see AR bringing print and web together and is this a good thing?
UBIK:AR can not only bring web and print together but animation and film also. Billboards, and posters can and are being posted that allow the user to view animated and moving image content via their phones just by pointing their phones at them. I would guess that this would apply to websites too, where you could access ‘hidden’ or extra pages of a site, say for a movie, by going to the right poster and pointing your camera at it.
I can’t see how it is not a good thing, as it has suddenly opened up a whole new dimension of creative opportunities to achieve the holy grail of advertising: to make something original.