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I recently read an article with an interview between iMedia Connection and Ray Kurzweil, renowned futurist, inventor and author of “The Age of Spiritual Machines.” Kurzweil shared his insight on the future of online and virtual marketing. His predictions about the future of technology and its effect on communications raise many questions for marketers and communicators.
We can already see evidence of the mobile trend: Smartphones continue to rapidly increase in popularity and evolve in capability. But Kurzweil talks about something we have not yet fully experienced: “the increasing realism of virtual and augmented reality.”
“Augmented reality has just started with a few iPhone apps in the last several months. In the future we'll be online all the time, the electronics will be in our belt buckles and woven in our clothing, and images will be superimposed on the real world through our lenses. This will create virtual displays (which can be three-dimensional), full-immersion virtual reality environments, or augmented reality…these virtual environments will be limited only by our imagination.”
I have to admit, I’m a bit intimidated by that statement.
At the same time, think of the possibilities. If society becomes a mixture of real and virtual worlds, it gives marketers an opportunity to reach people on an entirely different level than they do now. There will be many innovative ways to interact with a target audience—ones that don’t exist yet. What do you think is in store for the future?
I look forward to seeing what marketing communications will look like in a society that lives in an augmented reality, but I also think advances in technology will create some challenges:
The loss of personal touch
Kurzweil describes the world we will live in as: “A seamless blend of real and virtual/augmented reality. Our everyday reality will essentially be one encompassing interactive media.”
If that is the case, how will marketers and communicators maintain that personal touch that comes from face-to-face interaction? Will the personal touch cease to exist, or just lose its true meaning?
The loss of personal touch is already evident in today’s society. E-mails, social networks, Skype, webinars, etc. are great tools but they all contribute to this lack of personal, face-to-face interaction. Even phone calls are becoming less common. There’s no denying that technology will continue to accelerate and it will have an effect on the personal, face-to-face aspects of communication.
Differentiation when technology isn’t a hot new trend
A few years ago, just using social media made an organization different. Brands stood out amongst their competitors just from having a Facebook Fan Page, MySpace or Twitter account. Now brands have to use social media the “correct” way and provide compelling content to stand out.
But what happens when society becomes so used to technology that nothing fazes people anymore?
If we live and breathe technology so much that it’s embedded in our lives and it blurs the lines between reality and a virtual world, how will marketers be able to differentiate a brand? How can a brand stand out in a world like that?
The idea of augmented reality comes with many challenges and opportunities that I’m sure many of us haven’t even considered yet. At this point, all we can do is try to keep up with the trends. Marketers that want to continue to reach consumers have to adapt their strategies to fit with advances in technology. Hopefully technology does not advance too quickly for us to keep up.
This post was written by Jackie Lampugnano. Jackie is a media relations intern at Walker Sands currently studying Marketing and Public Relations at Loyola University.
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