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The Wonders of Augmented Reality


While I was at Mobile World Congress this year, I spent quite a bit of time looking at augmented reality solutions.

The idea of augmented reality (AR) is that it does just that - it augments the reality that you see. The reality is augmented by a mobile device - smartphone or tablet.

The AR system knows when and how to augment the reality because of “trigger images”. These can be images created for the purpose, like the poster for a movie or an advert for a type of car. Or, the trigger can be something real like controls of a car or the connection ports of a complex router.

I saw a number of examples of the use of AR at the show …


  • Using AR to give car owners or car renters information about how the controls of their car work. And, should a light illuminate on the dashboard, what to do about it, right down to augmenting the reality when the customer opens the bonnet/hood.
  • Using AR to operate devices. The example I saw was an HP router. The AR system recognized the back of the router and augmented reality, showing the customer how to wire up the device. How many device manuals have you lost - or own, and not know where they are?
  • AR for shopping. In a clothes store, the AR system tells you what you might pair with a jacket, what other colors the jacket comes in, and so on. Or, in a car showroom, you could see the equipment and color options for each model.
  • In adverts. AR can make the adverts come alive. I saw an AR for a Spiderman movie where our hero came alive and slid (is that the right verb for someone as super-hero as Spider man – it sounds a little passive) down a spider’s thread
  • For demo stands at shows. I’ve frequently helped customers near the HP demo area at shows because they need help navigating our demo stations. The issue is that depending on your role in your organization, you want different things out of the show. So an AR experience, triggered off your role, would be ideal
  • For travel. Point your mobile device at an historic building and AR will tell you things of note in and around the building.

One of the key themes HP used at the Mobile World Congress was the idea that, in 2020, mobile solutions would “create an engaging experience to help humans”. We expand on this in the “Mobility 20/20” chapter of our Enterprise 20/20, crowd sourced, vision of the world in the year 2020.

I think that AR is very much a step in the direction towards “helping humans”. Today, however, most AR experiences are oblivious to the habits, preferences, the current state, and the current desires of the user. What I think we’ll see as we move towards 2020 is use of the user’s habits and preferences and their current state and their desires to tailor the AR experience.


(I also think that mobile devices will soon have “AR accelerator” chips in them that speed up the AR triggering and graphics rendering.)

I’m a big fan of AR, but a colleague of mine offered a word of caution as I did a hypothetical, “things you could use AR for” mental exercise as we walked around a conference center in Prague this week. He said, “I hate AR. I hate Sat Nav. These technologies stop people thinking for themselves”. Maybe - but the last time I hired a car, it took me 30 minutes to get the thing to start. At that point, I would have loved AR assistance, even if it had meant a little less thought on my own part!!


 aurasma Bon-Jovi.jpg





This is the artwork for a Bon Jovi album. AR causes the artwork to come alive.









aurasma Mercedes-A-Class-BROCHURE.png






This Mercedes A-class brochure comes alive thanks to AR.







aurasma Maidenform.png







An instore AR experience - point at this image for an augmented shopping experience.


 Author : Mike Shaw

Mike Shaw
Director Strategic Marketing

linkedin.gifMike Shaw

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About the Author


Mike has been with HPE for 30 years. Half of that time was in research and development, mainly as an architect. The other 15 years has been spent in product management, product marketing, and now, strategic marketing. .

Jan 30-31, 2018
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