Scrubbing ads from augmented reality

04 Aug 2011

Augmented reality is projected to be one of the next big trends in mobile apps, particularly in the mobile advertising space. Inevitably, some people are using the same technology to opt out of ad-space … sort of.

Anti-advertising group Public Ad Campaign has developed a beta iPhone/iPad app with AR developers The Heavy Projects that replace ads in public spaces with art, reports PC World [via sister publication Computerworld Hong Kong].

Open the app, point the device at a billboard ad or a poster, and this happens:

The moment the app identifies an advertisement … it replaces the content showing on your mobile device's display with a piece of art created for the app. The art often mocks the advertisement it replaces. For instance, a parody of old Marlboro cigarette ads can replace the ads for the new film Cowboys and Aliens.

The app does this replacement dynamically whenever it sees an ad. So as far as the viewer is concerned, the real ads don't even exist.

Of course, it’s mainly symbolic – you can still see the ads in real life, and other AR apps designed to officially enhance the ads with offers, bonus content or whatever would work as normal.

Still, it’s interesting to see this kind of pushback from within the apps developer community. But I doubt the advertising sector (mobile or otherwise) is in any danger.

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