We love female authors here at GoMo News and here is an excellent article from Yanna Sigenlaub from LTU Technologies.
There have been a lot of discussions in the media and elsewhere lately about the best ways to create print to mobile experiences. The battle between QR codes, NFC and image recognition is in full force and the weapons are loaded, but hopefully once the dust settles the consumer will emerge as the real winner.
Print to mobile means making print materials and physical objects interactive by allowing consumers to scan, take a picture or simply hold up a mobile device to access more digital content. This could be product details, promotions or coupons, ability to buy, share on social networks, watch a video, sign up to get a sample or some kind of branded entertainment experience via augmented reality. Anything really that can be delivered through the mobile device is possible.
There are different ways to enable print to mobile including QR codes and tags, digital watermarks, image recognition and NFC. And there are many differing views on which technology is most effective. In reality, all of the above can and should co-exist. The real challenge is creating relevant and valuable experiences that will drive consumer adoption of the print to mobile action.
When faced with the choice of which technology to use to deliver print to mobile, marketers should first consider who they want to reach and what they want to accomplish. In many instances it may make sense to use a mix of QR codes and image recognition.
A retail brand may choose to use image recognition to ‘activate’ their print catalog to avoid cluttering their pages with codes for each product featured. This especially makes sense if they already have a branded mobile app and a loyal customer base. Adding image recognition to an app is extremely easy and can be done in a matter of hours without having to reprint catalogs for it to work. The same company, however, might opt to use QR codes for their print advertising to reach those users that have yet to download their app. Since multiple scanners can read codes this makes sense to reach a larger audience. The action after scanning the code could even be automatic download of the branded app that includes image recognition.
Others are working on using QR codes with image recognition as the second search layer. Imagine scanning a code on a piece of clothing, getting more information and then using image recognition to search for similar objects or colors.
Marketers also need to carefully consider objectives and target audiences when deciding whether to develop campaigns that include augmented reality. The lines between augmented reality and image recognition can be somewhat blurry. In most cases image recognition is the component of augmented reality that enables the matching of visual content to trigger a digital overlay on the device. Speed is a key factor when developing an engaging augmented reality experience. This can be accomplished by processing the image recognition part on the device itself. The limitation then becomes the number of images that can be included in the campaign. For a catalog retailer with thousands of images this is not a viable option.
Augmented reality offers the opportunity to deliver some very amazing digital experiences, but for the less mobile tech-savvy consumer holding the device over content and waiting for something to appear can be a bit awkward. We are so familiar with the action of taking a picture and actually clicking the button is second nature. This is why some prefer to implement image recognition as an extension of the camera action – point, click and get a result.
In essence, there is a time and place for using QR codes, image recognition and delivering results as augmented reality. The real question should not be what technology is going to kill the rest, but rather how they can work together to drive widespread consumer adoption. Technology vendors should focus on improving the technology to be as fast and easy to use as possible and work together to create universal applications that can process all technologies.
Of course technology is not the sole driver of adoption. Linking print and the offline world to digital content will eventually become the norm, but to get to that point we need to start by creating experiences that are meaningful and relevant to the consumer. Activating an object or page without any instructions or incentives is not likely to motivate many people to partake in the action. Likewise, linking to content that has not been optimized for mobile does not result in a pleasant user experience and is not likely to encourage consumers to try again.
The Holy Grail for mobile will be when the camera replaces the keyboard and we can just point at anything to get more content. For now however, our responsibility is to make our technology as good as possible, work together and ensure that the user experience makes sense.
About Yanna Sigenlaub from LTU Technologies
Yanna Sigenlaub is vice president of marketing for LTU technologies and directs all global marketing and corporate communications efforts. She is responsible for helping to cultivate opportunities in new and existing markets and also oversees partner and developer relations. Yanna has been critical in guiding LTU technologies direction into mobile marketing and for the mobile visual search solution, pixlinQ.