One of the really wild things at Museums and the Web 2007 was a demonstration booth from the National Science Museum, Japan. At the booth were a series of paper pop up dinosaurs. By themselves the dinosaur popups were impressive but once a consumer grade webcam was pointed at the paper cutouts they came to life as proper 3d models on screen.
The technology was written up in their paper over at Archimuse.
Fast forward a year and the Wellington Zoo in New Zealand have used a very similar technology in a recent advertising campaign. AdForum has a short overview and a short video about the project. In short, a newspaper advertisement is transformed into 3D animals by pointing a mobile phone camera at it.
The article is scant on the details of its success other than saying that the zoo reported a 32% increase in visitors. What would be interesting to know would be the number of downloads of the required mobile phone application needed to ‘view’ the 3D models (delivered on request via MMS), and also the number of animals viewed this way. The Zoo, of course, will also have built its customer database too. Everyone downloading the application and viewing animals, no doubt, will have consented to being added to the Zoo’s contact database for future follow up.
As the AdForum piece, and the Japanese research points out, and as we have already learnt from looking at QR codes and their use in advertising especially in Japan to deliver multimedia content, these are the very early stages of mass adoption of mobile augmented reality tools.