Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. AR has become common in sports telecasting (think the yellow “first down” line seen in television broadcasts of NFL games). The real-world elements are the football field and players, and the virtual element is the yellow line, which augments the image in real-time. Brands have begun using this technology to generate awareness, effectively engage consumers and create brand loyalty by creating more impactful relationships.
Nike’s Jordan brand used this technology to increase awareness for the launch of Carmelo Anthony’s new basketball sneaker the Jordan Melo M8. Nike hosted an event at Pier 54 in New York City using projection imaging of Carmelo Anthony’s explosive game over the Hudson River.
Also, to increase engagement with consumers, Nike created an iPhone app where consumers could learn about the product, find store locations and basketball courts in New York City and use AR technology. By using the camera on their mobile phone, consumers can place digital images of Carmelo Anthony on real locations and share through Facebook and Twitter.
With augmented reality, marketers can take the physical world and combine it with the digital world, giving both users and brands the ability to connect even further with a product before, during and after making a purchase. It will be interesting to see how brands and sports marketers will use this technology to build a deeper connection with consumers. Hey, if the NBA collective bargaining negotiations continue as is, maybe the owners can replace the real players with projection imaging.