Traditional printed leaflets can often be inaccessible for those with sight impairments or who have English as a second language, such as British Sign Language (BSL) users.
Hard copy marketing materials are particularly useful at conferences and exhibitions. But can be wholly ineffective if key areas of your target audience are unable to read the information.
Augmented reality (AR) technology, which enables a user to access additional content via a reader app on their smartphone or tablet, is a great solution.
AR enables you to create hard copy, written communications, such as leaflets, prospectuses and catalogues, and then add content such as a filmed BSL version or voice over.
Firstly, you need to create the additional content and upload it to the web, either on your website or, if it is a film, on a YouTube channel or similar.
When designing the leaflet, you need to create and embed the AR code. You could even just use a QR code although it is not as pretty.
Once the publication is printed, users need to download the app. There are many free versions available. So far I have used Aurasma and Layar as well as a basic QR code reader. Once the app is downloaded on their device, users just need to hover their phone or tablet over the content and they will automatically be directed to the additional content you have created. This could be anything from a BSL or voiced over version of the leaflet to a filmed example of what you are describing.
This technology is still in its early stages, so it is good practice to include some information explaining what users need to do to access the additional information within the hard copy. You should also include a url of where the additional content is, for those who are unable to access the app. A user may wish to access the content via their computer without using an app.
One of the downsides to AR is that in order to access the information, you need to be in an area with access to the internet, ideally Wifi, although 3G can cope.
However, I'm really excited about the possibilities AR provides to bring previously inaccessible communications to life and help organisations ensure they reach their target markets.
I'm particularly excited that the technology is not just restricted to print. You can use AR to bring all sorts of things to life and there are applications for enabling your buildings to be more accessible by embedding AR codes onto signage and more. But that will be covered in a future blog post...