[By Alyson Linke]

Say what you will about Pokémon Go – since it debuted this July, the app has been easily one of the hottest (and most hotly debated) apps of 2016. Part of what made Pokémon Go such a big draw is that it took a beloved piece of millennial nostalgia and quite literally brought it to life. This is a fantastic example of augmented reality; a technological phenomenon that is not exactly recent but has lately been gaining serious traction. And since the proverbial Pikachu has been let out of the bag, the world of PR and communications has taken notice.

Augmented reality differs from virtual reality in that instead of immersing the user in a simulated environment, the user experiences simulated elements within the real world. We recently discussed the Microsoft HoloLens and its implications on the communications landscape, but other brands and firms are rushing to capitalize on this fresh way of engaging the public as well.

Never one to back down from the spotlight, Snapchat just added an augmented reality feature called World Lens, which essentially plays off their innovative filter feature, except this one is for the back-facing camera. The various filters can be projected onto whatever landscape you wish to film and include snowflakes, hearts, and a customized confetti filter for the presidential election. Snapchat’s slightly less cool older cousin Facebook has plans to introduce a function called Style Transfer which will allow users to transfer the representation of an artistic style onto an image filmed in real time.

Does this mean we’ll be seeing media releases being broadcast through filters? Probably not. But the advent of augmented reality allows for user and community engagement on an unprecedented level in communication. Many businesses took advantage of the success of Pokémon Go by partnering with the app to draw attention to themselves as sponsored locations, and this idea is something that many brands and organizations can emulate. This exciting new technology is poised to usher in a new world of communication where the sky is truly the limit.

(Photo by Mimzy via Pixabay)