While virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have been discussed at PRINT in the past – they took on new importance at this year’s show. So much so, that PRINT added a new Virtual Reality area to the event that allowed attendees to experience the inner working of a production press using a virtual headset. The show was also full of printed campaigns that incorporated a mobile experience.
After a few days at the show, these are my three takeaways:
1) Brands are looking at AR applications that drive revenue. The marketers and brand managers we met with at PRINT have been following AR for years. They are familiar with AR for gaming, and are interested to see how AR applications can drive business value. Marketers see AR as a way to bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds and engage with customers in new, meaningful ways. They are looking at AR as a way to educate and inform key audiences –customers, internal sales, remote service professionals and partners. Looking at the opportunity in this way, AR becomes a business asset not just a game. A great business example of AR is the Xerox Iridesse Production Press Augmented Reality experience which was on display in the Xerox booth. Using a mobile device or tablet with the Solimar AR app (download at iPhone and Android app stores), customers can learn about the Iridesse Production Press features and virtually see what it would look like on-site in their facilities. This AR experience not only supports the sales training process, it is a great way to engage print service providers. It brings the Iridesse Production Press to life without having to visit a demo room.
2) Incorporating personalized and location-based data into AR Marketers and brand managers want personalized campaigns. Smart direct mail, billing and transactional print campaigns as well as packaging include personalized, variable data. Marketers want this same capability in an AR platform. They are not looking for static AR applications. They want data-driven, personalized or location-based experiences that are specific to individual customer’s needs and preferences. Solimar Systems, one of the busiest booths at PRINT, is leading the way with variable data / personalized augmented reality experiences. Solimar has partnered with RealityBLU and is using the BLUairspace Platform to deliver relevant and personalized AR experiences that are trackable. At the booth, companies from various industries including financial, banking, insurance, healthcare saw demonstrations of how they can extend customer communications with personalized digital content about new services, offerings, training, coupons and more. Booth visitors also learned about location-based AR and how one AR marker can trigger an endless number of different mobile experiences. This is perfect for the implementation of location specific content. It is also ideal for local, regional or global applications where location might determine the nature of an AR content experience.
3) Print Service Providers are embracing AR Print service providers (PSPs) are in a competitive market. Many were reluctant to evolve their business and embrace digital marketing 15+ years ago and have been playing play catch up ever since. PSPs don’t want to make that same mistake with AR. AR is a viable business application and adds a direct connection from any printed material – label, sales collateral, credit card bill and more – to a mobile device. Print services providers are in a unique position to expand their value proposition by integrating AR into their existing offerings and workflows. Print18 was the ideal place for PSPs to see AR platforms and campaigns in action. In addition to Solimar, companies like Konica Minolta had areas dedicated to helping PSP understand and capitalize on the AR opportunity in print. The PSPs we spoke with at the show saw the immediate possibilities AR could provide their business and customers. The RealityBLU® Advantage At PRINT18, attendees saw a real-time, personalized demonstration of the BLUairspace ® Augmented Reality platform. The experience demonstrated how printers and their customers can combine AR with print to generate new customer interactions and revenue-generating opportunities. BLUairspace is a cloud-based platform that aligns with current production workflows and is highly scalable allowing a company, agency or PSP to manage one or hundreds of accounts, campaigns, and experiences. After seeing the BLUairspace platform, a large PSP commented, “I can see so many opportunities (for BLUairspace) that will support my sales reps and ultimately our end users.” Interested in learning more? Watch my PRINT18 video with David Zwang from 'WhatTheyThink'. Or contact RealityBLU for a demo.
M.J. Anderson is the Chief Experience Officer, RealityBLU. Contact the team here.