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Augmented Reality to lead the way?

QR codes were a popular topic at the recent Packaging Innovations show in London, but in two separate seminar sessions, Blippar and m2end highlighted Augmented Reality (AR) as an alternative in value-added packaging. 

Simon Jobling, commercial director of m2end, explained: ‘Augmented Reality enables digital images/content triggered by a visual image to be seamlessly inserted into the real world through a smart phone, webcam or tablet.’ A fun example is reported in L&L issue 5 on page 48.

The technology is application applied, meaning it can be added to any picture, even one that has already been printed. It can also be programmed to allow the image to be scanned so it can be viewed afterwards, rather than having to hold the device over the image. This enables it to be used to demonstrate assembly instructions when building flat pack furniture or installing electronics – currently an untapped area.

Jobling summarized: ‘AR is still cutting edge stuff for consumers but many mainstream brands already participate in it.’ He believes there are no consumer barriers: ‘The growth of smart phones and tablets, etc, has to happen and this will only increase adoption.’ There is currently talk of standardization in the industry to introduce a symbol that displays the presence of AR on packaging.

For now, AR looks set to lead the way in value-added content, increasing interactivity at – and after – the point of purchase. It gets people talking, it is innovative and exciting. But is it sustainable? We will have to wait and see.

Carol Houghton, journalist, L&L