Japan has always been quite ahead of its time in many ways. The mobile revolution basically happened here, when the majority of people were using their phones to make payments and take and share pictures as far back as the early 1990’s. Broadband penetration has always been huge, usually placing Japan within the top three markets globally to have the highest penetration. And don’t forget the toilets. The rest of the world has not adopted the science fiction-like toilets you get in Japan, the ones that are operated like the captain’s chair of a space shuttle, and very welcomed during winter. All these innovations are deeply penetrated throughout the country and are quite the norm nowadays.
However, another technology that has not been understood and therefore not adopted is AR (augmented reality). But this is slowly starting to change. Below, I highlight three recent clever uses of augmented reality that are starting to make waves in Japan.
The Tokyo Newspaper: Creating an Engaging Read
As in other parts of the globe, the print world, of which newspapers dominate, is suffering massive declines in readership. In Tokyo, the largest ad agency, Dentsu, was trying to figure out ways to make the paper more engaging and generally fun to read, especially for children as a way to enhance their education. They came up with an augmented reality reader for kids, designed to make the paper a bit more lifelike. You focus the app on certain articles and it creates an AR version of the article that is kid friendly that breaks down complicated stories on the economy, politics, and more into a format that is understandable with kids.
University of Tokyo: Fighting Obesity
Researchers at the University of Tokyo created a special headset equipped with a built-in camera that makes the image of your food appear bigger than it actually is, thus tricking your mind into thinking that you’ve eaten more than you did. In preliminary results, the researchers said that when the food was magnified 1.5 times, the amount eaten decreased by about 10 percent. When they made it two-thirds its actual size, the amount eaten increased by about 15 percent. They claim that solutions like this could potentially work for anyone who is struggling with overeating.
Sony: Holding a Music Festival
In the heart of Shibuya in downtown Tokyo, people who wear headphones, or who are interested in trying them out were treated to an AR music festival put on by Sony. It was created using Sony’s proprietary 3D augmented reality technology called “SmartAR.” Sony contracted four local best-selling rock groups who created original videos that could only be seen in the AR environment. You download the app, and hold your phone up to the poster on the side of a building to view the concert.
The use of AR will most likely increase as brands start to find more innovative ways to capture people’s attention while simultaneously bringing them into the experience. How we connect the real world and the digital world will become more important and technologies like AR that enable us to make these connections will be an essential toolkit for advertisers who want to stand out in what is considered to be a super cluttered environment.
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