I may have been caught out in one of my predictions for 2009 and it might be worth me starting with a possible mea culpa.
In January 2009, I kicked off the year with a post that made five (adjusted to six) predictions for 2009.
The most controversial of these was that 2009 would not be year for mobile.
My theory was that in a down economy the bigger players (ie OTAs and suppliers) would be too busy shoring up their business and improving packaging and cross-sell to a “bet” on an investment in mobile.
The counter argument led by Norm Rose was that smart phone penetration was so high and rising so fast (led by Blackberry but with iPhone on the charge) that it was irrefutable that mobile has jumped from a side-bar to a fully fledged distribution channel for travel.
I still think it is clear that booking by mobile is not for 2009 (except in Japan and Korea).
But 2009 is certainly the year that mobile technology got sexy – real sexy.
I am talking about Augmented Reality.
Wikipedia defines Augmented Reality as:
"...a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are merged with, or augmented by virtual computer-generated imagery, creating a mixed reality”.
In other words put reality and technology together and stir.
Mashable has a great page carrying video demos of Top Six Augmented Reality Mobile Apps.
There are two my favourites I want to share with you.
Nearest Tube gives reality based directional guide for Tube stations in London (a similar New York version called Bionic Eye is also very interesting).
The second is Wikitude. It inserts point of interest information and background into the real time experience of a traveller. Videos for both below.
Beyond threatening my prediction, Augmented Reality is an exciting transition technology.
It is part of the shift from input based to search to intuitive and contextual search.
Prior to Augmented Reality a consumer had to type in search boxes the parameters they are interested in searching.
Phrases like “tube stations in W1 London”, “hotels near the Opera House” and “history of the Eiffel Tower” needed to be typed out using fingers or thumbs and answers sorted and sifted through care of Google (or Bing/Yahoo if you are in the minority) if you wanted to get destination specific and (hopefully) timely information.
Now that technology can marry the context (ie the time relevance and your location) with application specific requests to give targeted, specific and unique answers.
The consumer selects the need (tube, point of interest, service need, information) and the context and application will do the rest.
This changes search and will change marketing.
It is another step in our industry’s ability to development a specific and targeted recommendation of one based on the unique combination of desires, needs and interests of each individual at any moment in time.
The concept I am calling EveryYou over at The Boot.
The combination in the change in technological capability for search and mobile plus the social movement of consumers desire to share information is the great promise of Augmented Reality.