How augmented reality is redefining entertainment

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AR apps and media interaction

Besides being an efficient tool for smartphone users and offering an innovative experience for gamers, AR can also use a camera to interact with other types of media, something we’ve previously seen in the Junaio Augmented Reality Web Browser.

The Junaio browser made headlines last year when German TV station ProSieben used it for a show called Galileo. Viewers with smartphones and the Junaio app could become active participants by pointing their smartphone cameras toward their TV screens in order to answer quiz questions. They could then compare their progress with that of other participants live through the app.

The company described it as the first interactive TV broadcast, and ratings shot up 14 percent thanks to the show’s use of AR. More than 40,000 unique users took part in the quiz, and Junaio became the number one app in the German App Store for three straight days.


Broadcasters have found other uses for AR besides quizzes and surveys; for some companies it can also be a great advertising tool. According to branding company Serviceplan, the SyFy TV channel is using AR for just this purpose: SyFy started an ad campaign where users point their smartphone cameras toward physical and outdoor display ads, and then see different images pop up on their screens.

Ads such as this can be made a lot more interesting with the help of digital technology and AR. They can also be made interactive with users taking pictures or using their devices to make choices related to the ads. There is great potential for AR to change the face of advertising.

SyFy TV ad

AR on the bigger screen

Although AR is currently being developed for a broad range of uses, it’s still in its infancy. This is particularly the case when it comes to AR on the big screen or in home entertainment centers. Imagine an AR app that shows you where the TV cameras don’t go, to give you a true behind-the-scenes view. Imagine movies or TV shows that use AR special effects to add content projected from the TV set to your living room (think of “The Ring”). For instance, AR cameras could register walls and other real objects and display content upon them for you to explore virtually. Another potential use of AR is to virtually incorporate your rooms into the show. For example, a scene from your favorite TV show could take place in your bedroom, using information sent via the mobile camera.

In the future, TV networks could integrate viewer feedback to create new TV episodes or change content. The show could change depending on popular demand from viewers voting using AR technology, or a movie could have different outcomes and endings depending on the choices viewers made through their AR-enabled devices. Users could dictate the future of content.

Apple could be in a unique position to truly embrace AR for TV consumption and home entertainment if the company actually released its oft-rumored connected TV. If and Apple TV set came with a fully functional OS/iOS, many of the above ideas could become commonplace—and those applications could even start incorporating stereo 3D for a truly mesmerizing experience.

Mind-reading headsets integrated with AR

Although AR as a term is generally reserved for apps that allow your device’s camera to alter reality or the on-screen image, it goes beyond this implementation. The future of AR may mean being able to go inside virtual worlds or scenery while your mind controls the augmented objects around you. There are already apps and headsets available that allow you to control apps and aspects of apps—such as a character's movement—with your mind alone.


Google isn’t the only player in town when it comes to AR headsets. Some competing headsets, or the ideas behind them, also have the potential to redefine entertainment. There are a growing number of apps available for mobile devices that provide a great experience and show the potential of augmented reality. By itself, AR is interesting stuff, but its true potential will be seen when it can be combined with other technologies. The adoption of AR technologies may move us closer to true virtual reality, where users can enter an entirely different world. Mobile apps today use AR in incredible ways, but we’re getting increasingly excited about what it will mean for the technology of tomorrow.

This story, "How augmented reality is redefining entertainment" was originally published by TechHive.

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