Augmented Reality Is Content…
Augmented Reality and by extension Virtual and Mixed Reality are the new content. Content is king. We’ve all heard it and read it multiple times over the last decade.
Content about us or our brand has an impact both positive and negative, often spreading virally.
Augmented Reality presents new challenges in how we manage and maintain our brand or reputation.
Augmented Reality is often location based. Just look at Pokemon Go, Snapchat / Instagram Location Based Stories and others. In the past, if content was written about you, your brand or physical site of your company, it was all about where it was hosted (blogs, social media, even video or Yelp reviews) but the big change with Augmented Reality is that the content is at your location and short of banning the use of apps or smartphones onsite, anyone can create AR content that is tied irrevocably to your location.
Museums and art galleries are experiencing a reality where anyone can add digital content to them. Imagine the scenario where someone either creates an inappropriate or unwanted AR. Control of the ether has flown the coop.
Some see this as a positive transformation, but the big question is, how do you curate this content? In fact, can a museum, gallery or any other private or public entity claim ownership of the location base for the content added as an AR?
Does a museum etc even have any direct redress opposite the app developers to have reputation damaging AR removed? Imagine a politician running a campaign and his opposition creating an AR at his campaign HQ or his next speaking venue. What if the location is controversial and Augmented Reality added by visitors contains strong or equally controversial opinions.
The idea behind Augmented Reality as an immersive, additional layer of rich data that offers an experience we wouldn’t otherwise get is a powerful one. AR apps are not just about social media but also useful in industry, education and can contribute to a museum experience. With ARKit and ARCore our smartphones make it easier for us to create and consume AR content but with great power, comes great responsibility. Or does it in this case? Is the genie simply out of the bottle?
The Warptest POV
Instagram as an example is something we can be calmer about. In paying homage to Snapchat Stories, Instagram made this content temporary so the damage of a negative or unwanted AR is limited. Prior posts have raised the idea that technological disruption can swiftly become our Frankenstein’s Monster. I’m sure if you read the (example) Snapchat terms and conditions, there are clauses that indemnify the company and they clearly have guidelines for approving “lenses” and geo-filters. Snapchat are only one player in the AR market, Quis custodiet ipsod custodes?
Once again, legislation lags behind innovation. Can Augmented Reality content be considered intellectual property? Does ownership of the location supersede any right to create location base content? Is there even a way for a brand or person to easily monitor their AR reputation?
Museums and others like them will have to find solutions to this issue. This is a huge opportunity. An opportunity for the app creators to deliver a solution for searching locations for this Augmented Reality content. As for an appeal process for owners to claim their location and be able to request that apps take down hostile, offensive or other allegedly inappropriate content, search engines offer a similar solution so why not?
Third party developers may be able to develop a reputation management solution if these AR platforms offer an API that supports this.
The real opportunity is for us to use location based Augmented Reality constructively.
We seem to have failed somewhat with Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, let’s not fail with Augmented Reality.