A parallel Worlds

Sunday May 8 2011 / Science & Technology - Art & Design - A Little Levity

An angel moves among commuters at London's Victoria Station in an augmented reality advertisement for Lynx deodorant.

And Lynx should be happy with the result as their new deodorant became their second-best-selling variant after just a few months on the market, large thanks  to this innovative advertising campaign.

The campaign was called Angel Ambush and the 'interactive' fallen angel at Victoria Station is Kelly Brook.  Commuters who walked across a specific spot suddenly appeared on a large video screen next to the departures board and, as they watched the screen, they soon discovered that they had company.

An angel, generated using augmented reality technology, fallsl to earth and appears to interact with the unsuspecting commuters. The result was a priceless marketing buzz and  YouTube clip that went viral and is fast approaching a million view.

Augmented reality creates a fantasy or enriched experience that people can interact with in real time.

Becca Sawyer of Mindshare, the advertising agency that came up with the Angel Ambush idea, said."We didn't know if it would work, either technically or in terms of how people would respond to it. We just thought it would be fantastic if an angel could seem to appear in real-life. Augmented reality is all about creating a fantasy experience that people can interact with."

And despite appearing to be cutting-edge technology, the Fallen Angle was actually a relatively simple application of augmented reality. Some experts have commented that Angel Ambush was not 'real' augmented reality at all, because the virtual angel was just a layer of video manipulated by a human operator, rather than an independent 3D object.

"We know that the longer somebody touches a product, the more likely they are to purchase that product. So by giving them a virtual product, it can drive and uplift sales." according to Myles Peyton, UK Sales Director at tech firm Total Immersion. "We're seeing augmented reality move from being a gimmick, to being a trend. It's going to explode."

The reason for such confidence in the future of augmented reality lies not from major leaps in the technology itself, but from the emergence of the smartphone . . .  so stay tuned and don't believe what you see.

Suggested by
Ian Skellern