Augmented Reality: Combining Digital with Analog

Originally posted on Twine.

Prior to joining Twisted Rope, my first introduction to Augmented Reality was through PokémonGo, a location-based augmented reality game developed by Niantic.

I thought once the craze died, that would be the last of augmented reality for me. Who would’ve thought that augmented reality would come up again but in my professional career?

Augmented Reality (AR) is an enhanced version of reality created by the use of technology to overlay digital information on an image of something being viewed through a device (such as a smartphone camera).
— Merriam-Webster dictionary

Fast forward to a year later, I’m sitting in a sushi restaurant with Greg Norton, Twisted Rope’s president, and the first thing he shows me is how there was more to his business card than just ink and paper.

 
Back of Twisted Rope's business cards. The Twisted Rope logo is a "trigger" image.

Back of Twisted Rope's business cards. The Twisted Rope logo is a "trigger" image.

 
 
 

Hidden throughout the card were “auras,” which are visual augmented reality (AR) experiences that users see when connecting digital assets to real world images or objects. To view the auras, I needed to download the “Aurasma” app on my own smartphone, an augmented reality platform which allows you to see and interact with the real world in a new way.

I was hooked. I wanted Aurasma to become our most used tool in our marketing arsenal. But, how? How can we introduce this new app to our audience and get them on board? Creating an aura isn’t the hard part, it’s convincing people to try it.

After thinking about it for a few weeks, I realized I was asking the wrong question. I was focused on trying to understand why people didn’t want to use it. The more accurate question was, “how can I make others want to use augmented reality?

Solution: We needed to think about the user first. The tech needed to come second. Once we understood that, we could devise a better process for introducing users to augmented reality.

What We Learned From the Process:

1. Stop assuming users knew what augmented reality was.

We’re still learning as a company what augmented reality can do and how we can incorporate this tech into our work. We also must remember not everyone knows what it is and needed to stop assuming our audience knew what augmented reality was.

This was tough. We immersed ourselves so much into the new technology trying to understand everything that we forgot others aren’t quite as up to speed.
 

We needed to take a step back and remember we needed to educate others as we learned – which leads me to my second point: make it easy.

2. Make it easy.

We learned the key to this was to keep it simple and find a clear way or concise, standardized set of instructions to how to view the content.

We knew we wanted our audience to download the “Aurasma” app and follow the “twistedrope” account to view the auras, but hadn’t yet articulated any easy steps to do so. We found an effective way to communicate this is through icons and simple instructions.

We simplified the instructions to 4 easy steps:

 
Aurasma Instructions
 

One of the issues we ran into with “making it easy” was finding the right words to make the instructions clear. To fix this issue, we took the instructions for a test spin during our Twisted Rope Happy Hour, asking our family and friends to download the app. We learned a lot from seeing how everyone interpreted the instructions and refined the wording.

3. Make it fun.

People are going through all this effort to see your awesome new content. Make it worthwhile and fun. This is a chance for the business world to deliver an experience we hadn’t been able to do before. It’s a new way to communicate with users and make it memorable. We’re still getting started with our interactive experience ourselves at Twisted Rope and it’s already been fun brainstorming with our team on creative ideas to engage others.

 
 

Augmented reality is still brand new and we’re learning a lot as we continue to delve into the technology and create more experiences.

As part of our rebranding, we wanted to incorporate non-traditional methods of marketing as part of our digital strategy and, so far, it’s been a hit and terrific learning experience for everyone involved.

We’re excited to use Aurasma as a platform to showcase our work while also delivering an immersive experience for anyone new who is following Twisted Rope.

We’re always interested to hear what other companies are doing when using new technologies as part of their plan or what other people have seen that’s new and wild.

TwineAnnette Wong