National Geographic’s embracing of cutting edge augmented reality technology should serve as a model for any classic company transitioning into this new tech age
By Daria Gaioshko
Augmented Reality as a promotional tool has grown in popularity to the point that it feels like a new Augmented Reality (AR) campaign springs up every week. However, while some can be very impressive quality like, such experiences are limited to those who own smartphones or tablets and are, at best, passive experiences. Keeping this in mind let’s have a look at campaigns from National Geographic.
It’s always been about audience engagement for Nat Geo
Maybe the most famous augmented reality campaign from National Geographic was launched in Hungary in 2011. The campaign consisted of a digital screen and high-powered camera in front of an AR marker that were placed in a big shopping mall. As people stepped onto the marker, the content came alive on the big screen in front of them. Through an AR setup, it allowed shoppers to see themselves interact with anything that came up on screen (wild animals, dolphins, dinosaurs, astronauts and experience thunderstorms).
The same kind of experience was later introduced in South Africa and at Terminal 1 transit area in Abu Dhabi International Airport so people from different continents could learn what augmented reality really is.
The campaign removed the barrier between consumers and AR campaigns, mainly the requirement of a mobile device. Another important factor was that it allowed people to interact with what they saw in comparison to many other AR campaigns, which tend to be quite passive with regards to user interaction.
In order to convert customer engagement into sales, they could’ve left promotional posters of National Geographic subscriptions at the site for people to access the offer.
Another application of augmented reality that was introduced by the National Geographic took place in at The Science Center of Iowa as a part of “Earth Explorers” exhibit.
The exhibition’s theme was the exploration of dangerous and remote parts of the world (e.g. deepest depths of the oceans, Poles, dense rain forests, mountains, etc.). To engage “explorers” and make their experience memorable there were compass shaped AR markers scattered through the exhibit that visitors had to track down and find on their own personal devices. Once found, the markers revealed an inside look at animals related to that part of the world. Additionally, finding a marker rewarded the visitor with a trophy – a tool used by explorers in that part of the world to better explore their environment. After all the trophies had been collected, a final Earth Explorers special trophy was given out for completing the quest!
Scavenger hunts are a great way to engage young audience in learning or getting to know something. Placing the markers in the different parts of the Center made “explorers” move around and explore the whole collection of exhibits.
At first artificial light conditions of the museum made tracking of the markers a bit challenging, but adding direct spotlights helped to deal with this problem.
Embracing a new educational paradigm
National Geographic does not stop here. They have already announced a launch of an English textbook series in collaboration with Cambridge University Press that comes with an e-book version and footage from the channel as well as have more plans on working on educational traveling exhibits together with AR-Zoo (subsidiary of Geomedia Inc.). The company is doing pretty good job in adding augmented reality component to education and hopefully they will come up even with better campaigns soon.
Did you hear about other applications or campaigns that NatGeo released for the past years? Write about it in comments, so all readers can learn about it.
This post was originally published on the Augmented Pixels blog