If you're looking to stay slightly ahead of the Digital Marketing curve and wondering if virtual worlds like Second Life are going to make a comeback, Augmented Reality could well be "what's next" and a huge skip past virtual worlds.
What is Augmented Reality? According to Wikipedia: "Augmented reality (AR) is a field of computer research which deals with the combination of real-world and computer-generated data (virtual reality), where computer graphics objects are blended into real footage in real time. The term is believed to have been coined in 1990 by Thomas Caudell, an employee of Boeing at the time. At present, most AR research is concerned with the use of live video imagery which is digitally processed and 'augmented' by the addition of computer-generated graphics."
Basically, you can now use your mobile device or webcam to enhance (or add to) a real-world experience. Sounds very science fiction. It's becoming very real.
While there will be advertising opportunities in some of these Augmented Reality environments, some of the initial marketing possibilities look to be either product placement or the actual creation and development of an Augmented Reality brand immersion. One of the more popular moves in Digital Marketing in the past few years has been away from the click (or action) and more towards a fully-immersive brand experience for the consumer. If that's the case, Augmented Reality could well deliver on that promise.