Those of you following the crop of mobile Augmented Reality tools out there will be pleased to know that Munich based Metaio officially released an update to their Junaio browser. Actually, the app update soft-launched over 10 days ago so in that respect the new version isn’t really “news”. But it is still a nice update containing a significant GUI upgrade and some location filtering. Receiving the press release about version 2.5 (which I had already updated but just didn’t realize it) caused me to ponder some of Metaio’s recent ventures and what they mean, strategically.
The company has lately created a bit of buzz with their “targetless” Augmented Reality approach, requiring no 2D barcode-like marks for tracking and mapping their augmented content and overlays. They have more recently begun extending this concept to print ads by making interactive content visible over the ad when it is viewed through their Junaio browser. While the print ad integration is sexy in the short term and is no doubt filling the minds and fueling the conversations of marketers everywhere, I confess I am not sure that augmented print ads are practical in the long term, at least not with the current viewing mechanisms. But whether or not the masses will latch on to looking at print ads through small mobile device viewfinders is not really what I am pondering here. The greater concept of augmented overlays and super-information is powerful and sound. Augmented print ads, gimmicky or not, are another great example of a “prototype-as-product” strategy for quick market entry by getting usable, timely, proofs-of-concept into production. That is the good thing they are doing. I could be wrong, but the google-esque approach of “develop first, ask questions later”, is definitely one way to innovate and I think it is serving Metaio well.
By saying this I am not trying to insinuate that Metaio are not strategic in their methods. On the contrary, I think creating a new category of advertisements that fit in with a still very large segment of media (like they have done with their print ad augmentation) makes good business sense. Also, their SDK approach is smart and forward thinking. So what am I saying? I’m saying that despite how I feel about one or two of their executions, overall, the technology category they have selected as a medium—and in which they are making great strides and investment—is a good bet. I’m also impressed by the speed with which they are creating actual, live concepts to keep AR technology visible and I hope they can continue this work. Augmented Reality’s potential is undeniable and Metaio’s concepts, I think, are part of the puzzle. I am always watching to see what they, and their competitors, are thinking of next.
In any event, they have a bunch of good ideas and their little Flickr slideshow here is a great snapshot of some current and future concepts.