Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

An App That Helps You Install That TV You Just Bought

Get out the hammer, the screws and the iPad.

A new app feature from Aurasma is aimed at taking the pain out of product assembly, by tapping into augmented reality and creating a visual guide for mounting a television — maybe that brand-new one you just bought — on the wall.

Despite being a slow year for TV sales, manufacturers got a boost over Black Friday weekend, and a recent report says one in five U.S. broadband-enabled households plans to buy a flat-screen before the end of the year. Not surprisingly, around 28% of consumers find the process of installing their TVs to be frustrating, according to Kelton Research.

Could a visual how-to help?

In order to access the step-by-step guide, consumers first have to to download the Aurasma app, then aim a smartphone or tablet at an Aurasma-created installation guide. The augmented reality technology, which gives interactive context through a phone or tablet by using GPS, video and other sensory data, prompts a sequential “how to” guide for installing a flat-screen display on the wall. (You can see how it works in the video here.)

An AR app is a nifty idea for those holiday gadget purchases, but right now, Aurasma only has “auras” for how to mount a flat-screen on the wall and how to install an HP router; the company sees more product-assembly instructions in its future. The Aurasma app is free and works on iPhone, iPad 2 and Android devices. It is also available as a free SDK for app developers who want to build on the AR technology.

Augmented reality isn’t new: The first AR project is believed to have been developed at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory back in the 1960’s, though it was years later before it was called “augmented reality.” It is commonly used in sporting events — to project ads or other graphics on the field during a football game broadcast, for example — and has been increasingly making its way into gaming as well.

In recent years, marketers have begun targeting augmented reality campaigns at smartphone users, who can use an app or AR-friendly browser on their devices. Users simply point their smartphone camera at a poster or product and receive a digital layer of information, which could include an ad, price point, instructional video or a where-to-buy option.

Aurasma, an augmented reality platform created by HP-acquired Autonomy and based in San Francisco, launched in June 2011 and has since reached two million downloads. The company says it is currently working with around a thousand brands worldwide to power interactive campaigns, including Panasonic, BMW, Universal Music, Paramount Pictures and Virgin Atlantic.

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