Edited by  @SimonCocking

At the Dublin Augmented Reality marketing event we met the prolific and always opinionated Tomi  Ahonen @tomiahonen. Author, consultant and motivational speaker; the biggest social media slut in mobile. A mAd vidiot, F1 fan, globetrotting digital gypsy & 007 wannabe. Originally from Finland, exNokia, but currently Hong Kong based, as he aims to work and live his way around the world. Tomia is highly entertaining character with some acerbic and invariably on the money observations on major global mobile trends. Here is his take on the Dublin event from his own blog Communities Dominate Brands 

Augmented Reality Marketing Conference in Dublin, Lotsa Cool Ideas and Great Updates

This week the Augmented Reality Marketing conference was held in Dublin Ireland where I had the pleasure of also presenting. Its always fun for me to attend AR events as the AR technology is so ‘magical’ in its abilities, but now combining the most magical tech with the most creative industry – advertising and marketing – this was going to be something quite special indeed. So a summary blog about what astonished or amazed me (in roughly chronological order of the event)


My good friend Alex Gibson of the Dublin Institute of Technology was our host for event and did some opening remarks. He mentioned the Lufthansa promotion of their new Premium Economy Class seat that is being introduced on the Airbus A380 aircraft. As this is obviously a larger seat with more legroom, better recline than economy class, plus better food, bigger video screen etc, that can be explained yes, but how to communciate that to the average traveller? Augmented Reality works there very well. They created the AR seat-tester by which any flier can see the seat in their own living room or hotel room, in life-size through a smartphone or tablet screen. Lufthansa also created some games to play with the seat idea like how many jellybeans would fit into the seat, that kind of thing. The Lufthansa AR seat gets 6,000 downloads per month which is pretty good for a branded app in the AR space, (PS I tested that seat on my trip from Asia to Europe and back, its very comfy, roomy and has electriciy too, the Seatguru description is not accurate BTW..)

Next up was another of my friends, Steve Dann of Amplified Robot out of London, who had a very well stacked presentation of tons of examples (not unlike my presentations, haha, loved it). So Steve talked for example of AR on bus stops, projected onto the glass of the bus stop shelter enclosure. They had for example a Pepsi campaign with some monsters seeming to appear right there on the street, but visible only if you looked into the right direction through the glass, obviously there was nothing, so you could be safe just by shifting a bit to the side and seeing that in reality the streets were normal.

Steve then showed the L’Oreal AR magical mirror app Makeup Genius which turns the smartphone into a magical mirror where women (and why not men haha) can pre-test makeup before putting it on. It also is the Makeup Genius so it also recommends suitable shades of color and of course you have the ability to send pictures to your friends to comment before putting it on..

There are several clothing stores that now do AR trialing, Steve showed American Apparel and the Converse shoe AR testers which let you try virtualy, and change models and colors easily with the flick of a finger on the screen. Meanwhile Moose Jaw has taken the popular opposite direction, fully-clothed models that you can undress with their X Ray AR App, always a sexy gimmick to this type of clothing magic.


Steve Dann gave us an update to the famous Ikea AR app that also I have often discussed in my presentations in the past and on this blog. So the Ikea app lets you place the Ikea catalog anywhere in your room in your home, and then on that spot, display any Ikea furniture that you can then see through your smartphone or tablet. The furniture can easily be moved (move the catalog) and turned (just turn the catalog on the floor) and you can see from the phone screen how it would suit your room including your carpet, other furniture the colors etc. And easily swap to see other alternatives to pick the one you want. Obviously you can take pictures with the virtual furniture seemingly in your room and have your kids interact with them, which has turned into a family game of refurnishing. So the big news is that while Ikea thought going digital with their famous print catalog would reduce print runs, the opposite has happened. The print run has increased and currently Ikea has to print 5 times more catalogs than it did in the past, as consumers interact far more with the Ikea catalog than before (isn’t this a magical technology?). Oh, and a smart addition – the Ikea AR app now also measures your room(s) so you know if the given Ikea furniture will actually fit. Thats smart. A virtual tape measure embedded into the AR app.

Then if you remember the AR virtual butterflies called iButterfly I’ve talked about in the past, that came out of Japan and we have here in Hong Kong and lotsa places now. Steve told of a similar concept used in some shopping malls in the UK and Ireland where they have virtual balloons in the mall, for consumers to hunt and like the iButterfly, you get coupons and offers if you find and catch the balloons.


Steve talked of AR and VR (Virtual Reality) uses in travel. And let me just pause here briefly, many of my readers will know the distinction but others won’t. So Virtual Reality replaces what we currently see or experience. It typically has those goggles you can’t see through, that transport you to another place or time etc used for intensive gaming, training etc. Augmented Reality takes the reality you do see directly in front of you, and enhances it in some way, so typically AR includes devices you can see through like Google Glass type of devices or say a smartphone or tablet using their camera and you ‘see through’ to reality, but they then add something into reality. So VR replaces reality, AR adds to reality. Now with that distinction, lets return to our story. Travel.

Marriott Hotels in the USA have done a tour of their hotels with a virtual tourist travel setup using the Oculus Rift, and then they built various ‘human sensor fooling’ kind of tech around that experience, so the ‘gaming stand’ where you experience this travel can actually rise and fall, giving the virtual tourist body the sensation of say rising in an elevator. They have some fans creating the sensation of wind and some mist so you get the sensation of say humidity. And these combined with the immersive Oculus Rift goggles on your eyes blocking all other views, created dramatic travel experiences to exotic locations – obviously locations where Marriott also has a hotel nearby. But trips to mountains, to beaches, to skyscrapers and towers, etc. Pretty cool. Merrell Shoes did a similar virtual travel experience also with Oculus Rift but they constructed ‘problematic’ walking surfaces that the virtual tourist would have trouble getting over, without the proper footware…


Then we had Gaia Dempsey of Daqri showing an enterprise/corporate use of AR in industrial uses. They have built a safety helmet (the kind you have to wear in construction or factories of heavy manufacturing etc) that has added an AR visor. The visor is retractable, so you don’t always look through it, only if you need it. But if needed you can have the AR view added to what you see. So imagine a construction worker on a building location, needing to bring in the electrical cabling. Rather than use a tape-measure and measure the distance from the corner to some point on the floor, then up the wall, then avoid that beam and past that air conditioning vent, etc etc etc, where is the wire needed for the lowered ceiling panels, to bring in the lighting fixtures? Far easier, and far faster, and far more accurate is have the AR system display the lights exactly where they would be, in this room that has no walls even yet built in. The AR environment takes the exact blueprints, then displays an Augmented Reality view to the room when it is finished. And now the electrician can pull his wires exactly correctly to where they are needed..

Gaia told about the research they are doing with detecting brain activity and can currently already measure things like stress levels, so imagine a crane operator on a high-rise building. If that guy is having a bad day, you don’t want him hoisting expensive items of steel up into the sky. Lets measure his mental state and if he’s agitated, give him a break and put the other guy in, rather than cause an accident and break things..   Oh, Gaia said they want eventually to use the brain measurements to let us guide things and control just by our brain waves. At a very basic level this can be done already today in the laboratory but this will be a direct interface where we can get rid of the touch controls, maybe even display directly to the brain so we don’t need the projections to our eye retinas etc.

Same with any problems, these are connected, so the construction worker can call up the architect and they can have a shared view of what is the problem and fix it before there is a problem, rather than the very expensive fixing after the mistake has been built in and has to be undone. Etc etc etc


Then we had Matthew Key from Engine Creative, who had several good examples of AR to share. He talked about the Tesco AR platform that has been used to add AR to Tesco’s consumer magazine but also used in over 40 collaborative projects with various brands. So Tesco did a campaign with Coca Cola around football (ie soccer) and another with the Spiderman 2 movie launch. A pretty clever one was by Tesco and Disney for the movie Frozen. This was a bit like the concept of the ‘Advent Calendar’ if you are familiar with this Christmas tradition. So the December days leading up to Christmas, every day the child gets to open one door of the poster-type printed Advent Calendar, and there is a nice picture behind that door and sometimes even a little gift like a piece of chocolate. Now with Frozen, when you shopped Tesco, you got one sticker. Collect the stickers to the Frozen collection album/booklet and each sticker would link to a specific AR page that featured a flim clip or one of the characters from the movie. Kids love stickers, now there is a way to play with those stickers even more with the AR app. And the movie gets promoted, and kids want to accompany mom to the store, to make sure next time mom doesn’t bring back the wrong sticker we already have…. Tesco gets happy family customers..

Over the 40 campaigns run on the Tesco AR app, they have had 250,000 app downloads in total, 66% for smartphones, 34% for tablets. The average user spends 7 minutes interacting with any one campaign they are attracted to (obviously most do not engage with all 40 campaigns haha)


Next up we had Neil Driscoll of vStream who made the obvious point but still very good to be reminded – long before the rest of us were exposed to AR, the Japanese were doing it in their home market, as it is so advanced in mobile and digital. Neil showed the Jameson whisky bartending game on AR. It is designed to work with coasters that have unique images. The AR app recognizes each coaster. The game will assign a ‘drinks order’ from an imaginary table The gamer has to assemble the correct drink order in the correct order onto a tray. Then viewing the assembled drinks (ie the coasters) through a smartphone you can see what drinks were assembled and get the points on how well you did. Its a pub game against the clock that obviously gets ever harder the more drunk the players get along the way…

Neil showed the promotion at the Aviva stadium of Ireland that allowed fans to get to experience the stadium (rugby and soccer/football) and also be virtually inserted as the new player onto the team. The fan could have his/her face scanned, which then was inserted digitally into footage from the game and various commentary would discuss you, the new player, in your first game. You could see the player locker room with your name on your locker, etc.

vStream also had a booth at the event with a gesture-controlled hologram. This is like ‘Minority Report’ the movie with Tom Cruise but still at table-size scale. The hologram was about the size of an old CRT style ‘box’ TV set, a large one, on a table. Or say a big microwave oven if that doesn’t ring any bells. And you look into it, you see its just a box and you see through it. Then they turn it on, and Princess Leia the hologram kind of experience from Star Wars appears but inside that box. Very life-like, whatever object you want (that has been shot obviously with 3D cameras). Now the magic. Without any gaming console handsets or any connected smart gloves, you just step in front of the box, and you reach out your hand, into air, and the system recognizes your hand, and you can grab the item inside the box, the hologram, and turn it, twist it, flip it.

Its still a hologram inside the box (there is a glass, its a hologram projection onto glass, that is inside the ’empty’ box. And yeah, you can only view it from the front, I went to the back to see, there is nothing visible behind the ’empty box’ haha… But this is soooo coooool. Very realistic hologram object that you can now manipulate without any expensive digital gloves etc, just with your hands.


Then we had Dustcloud the AR game in real life. Howard Hunt talked at length about how the game was constructed and run in Prague. So imagine paintball in a live city so you have all the real world elements of people, cars, police etc. The game is a variation of ‘capture the flag’ but in this case its ‘capture the briefcase’. The game initially has a woman spy carrying the briefcase with two bodyguards. Then the teams stalk the woman and attempt to kill the guards and capture the briefacase. The briefcase is digital and shows the color of which team currently possesses it. And then kill the bad guys. All gamers wear an early prototype version of a Sony AR goggle set (simliar to Google Glass, so you see through it). And the gun – and your life – is called a ‘Duster’ and its a 3D printed plastic gun with some electronics. The ammunition has to be bought from Dustcloud and is delivered via USB stick like an ammunition clip to a handgun. When you die, the assassin who killed you takes also your remaining ammo. Note this is not a game that promotes continuous shooting as each round of ammo is paid for by you and there is a limit to what the Duster ammo clip can hold. So this is far more the ‘silent assassin’ (like James Bond) than Rambo-style spraying with bullets…

Each gamer performance is measured including shots fired and accuracy etc. Gamers play in teams. Capture the flag. But the guns, while white and plastic and small, do look like guns and you can imagine the Prague police being less than amused when adults run around their town pointing these white plastic guns at each other while wearing weird eyeglasses like some android killers from the future…

So if you liked a ‘first person shooter’ videogame like say Doom or Quake or Wolfenstein etc and wished it would be in the real world, this is that game. IF you liked paintball but preferred it to be on city streets rather than the painball farm or basement, this is your game. If you played capture the flag but thought ‘this should be done with guns’ haha, thats now your game. And anyone liking a bit of spy stuff in a live outdoor game, gosh Dustcloud is a pretty awesome package. BTW Howard Hunt did his takeaways from the event in this excellent slideshare.

My friend Dave Lorenzini of EventFX spoke next. They do aweome things at events like the Dallas Cowboys games with their fans so for example they have the audience at a live game participate in various quizzes playing one section of the audience against another. This in turn helps promote the audience members to convince others near them to also download their app and join the game, so that audience sector becomes the winner and everybody in it gets something like a t-shirt.


(then I did my keynote. I spoke about smartphone numbers, world has 2.1 Blllion smartphones in use, so this will be for the near term the primary interactive tech that AR will be deployed on. Smartphone migration rate will pass 99% of all new phones sold by 2019 ie essentially all new phones sold then will be smartphones. I talked about the 221 times per day stat, then showed some examples of what the advertising/marketing industry is doing with mobile and how they may related to AR, especially the AR shopping that will come soon. And I showed a few examples of my faves recently in the area of AR such as the Tissot watch-tester, the use of AR by dentists in Finland and Sephora’s magical make-up mirror. I then did the update of my forecast that AR will hit 1B users by 2020 and found that based on the latest numbers out by Tractica in March 2015, we are on track to get there. I also gave some case examples of how new media can discover now revenue models such as George Lucas did with Star Wars merchandizing, how Saunalahden Serveri (later Jippii Group) invented premium SMS business model with ringing tones. And the lesson from Rovio that Angry Birds was not an instant success, Rovio had attempted 51 games before Angry Birds finally was their first hit game.)



Next up we had Keith Jordan from iTagged with cool ideas of using AR with the car industry. Range Rover is developing an AR projection to your windshield which uses cameras underneath the car, to display the road underneath your car hood/bonnet. So you kind of see through the engine bay. On a tall car like an SUV, especially if you drive off-road, that is a good thing to have, to see right through the engine to the ground underneath the front of your car. Projected with AR tech onto the windscreen in front of you as you look ‘down’ where the engine hood/bonnet is. And similarly Mini is developing AR goggles to wear while driving that show the normal view to the front, but if you turn your head and look inside the car to the passenger-side door, you ‘see through’ the door, because there are live connected cameras on the outside of the door. So this would help for example in parking.

Next up we had Richard Ferraro from Catchoom who said their AR app already has 40 million active users (a number which well supports my estimate based on the Tractica numbers that the world has 81 million total AR active users). Richard said that when they ran an AR stickers game related to the FIFA world cup they had 100 million scans of the stickers (obviously those playing scanned several stickets on average).

Then my friend Richard Tisdale of Happy Finish showed how Mercedes promoted its new Citan van before the vans had arrived from the factory, by creating an AR life-size vehicle demo where the vehicles could be viewed on tablets.

And we had Dr Kavin Andi form St George’s Hostpital in London showing how AR can be used in cases of cancer treatments (and showed some truly gory images of advanced stages of cancers)

Irish Tech News also did a nice summary of the event with lotsa pictures (including one of me both without my hat, and wearing my hat, in the same picture… nice)

So there is a nice update to the ‘8th Mass Media’ opportunity that is now emerging beyond Mobile as 7th Mass Media. If you want to see myTEDx Talk about Augmented Reality as 8th Mass Media, if you are not yet convinced, that highly popular video has over 30,000 viewings already.


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!