Top 5 London 2012 Olympics Mobile AR Apps

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London 2012 OlympicsMore than 3 billion viewers are expected to watch London 2012 Olympics during over two weeks of sport events and competitions. With billions of pounds poured into the biggest event on the planet there is no surprise that brands choose to integrate augmented reality in their marketing campaigns.  In order to get a final grip of what is left of AR’s decreasing novelty, big names such as Samsung or EDF have released interactive mobile apps that are expected to steal some ’mojo’ from the Olympics’ lucrative brand.

Below is a list of the best mobile augmented reality apps with the London 2012 Olympics theme.

London 2012: The Official Join In App

London 2012 Join In The official London 2012 Olympics app is maybe the only app in the list that is designed as a useful and valuable tool for Olympic Games spectators and TV viewers alike, without ‘secretly’ promoting a brand other than the London 2012.

With very limited augmented reality integration which is however used in a functional way (to provide augmented reality views within the Olympic Park and venues) the app is stuffed with information about the Olympic: news, medals count, schedules and many more. This might work great on the new smartphones and tablets but it is rather sluggish on older devices such as the popular Samsung Galaxy S phone. It also requires continuous use of the GPS and 3G network for a great user experience which not only drain battery life but may also ‘eat’ quite a lot of your monthly Internet allowance (if you have one).

Value for Customers: Medium
Value for Brand: High

The Sun London 2012 Interactive Poster

The Sun AR AppCommissioned by the UK tabloid The Sun and built on the Aurasma platform, the AR app uses a London 2012 Olympic Park interactive map (available only with the newspaper). Viewed through the AR app, the map unfolds into a 3D model of the Olympic Park with more information about Olympic events.

Taking aside the fact that the app is mainly developed as a promotional gimmick and very restrictive for users (can only use it if the physical poster is in front of the smartphone’s camera), it only works on the latest mobile hardware as SmartPlanet found out, alienating the high majority of smartphone users.

Value for Customers: Minimum (Very restrictive and highly contextual)

Value for Brand: Medium

Holiday Inn AR App

Holiday Inn AR AppThe PR team of the low-cost hotel chain has been very busy in the last few months weeks, brainstorming on how to jump on the Olympics bandwagon without being an official sponsor (only an official supplier) of the games. This is how the Holiday Inn AR app was born. Guests staying at the Holiday Inn London Kensigton Forum can ‘see’ BMX World Champion Shanaze Reade performing tricks in the hotel’s lobby or Nick Dempsey ‘windsurfing’ with a hotel’s sheet in their rooms.

Whether this had any effect on the hotel’s reputation or on the guests is too early to measure, but the press has surely played their game (with our without any incentives) promoting the link between Holiday Inn and the Olympics.

Value for Customers: Insignificant (Highly Contextual)

Value for Brand: High

EDF Augmented Reality App

EDF London 2012EDF Energy, a partner of London Olympics, has created an entire pavilion in the Olympic Park to strengthen the association between the brand and a sustainable and healthy living. Using an app developed on the Aurasma platform, visitors can take pictures of themselves next to digital representations of world-renown athletes such as Victoria Pendleton, the British cycling champion. They can also experience the research and development of EDF marine turbines through augmented reality. Developed as a light entertainment and awareness-building app that promotes EDF’s technology to the large public, the AR app does its jobs fairly good within the pavilion context.

Value for Users: Medium (Highly Contextual)

Value for Brand: High

Samsung Take Part 2012

Samsung Take Part AR AppOne of the biggest names in London 2012’s official sponsors list has not lost the opportunity to further promote their mobile business. Samsung’s Take Part 2012 is one of the more balanced London Olympics apps that provide an interactive user experience without over-promoting their products (i.e. Samsung Galaxy S3). Disappointingly, the app uses marker-based AR technology to allow user to ‘participate’ for their own country in various Olympic sports, challenge their friends and even win medals. This requires users to print a marker which has to be placed in front of the mobile device’s camera to trigger the AR experience.

Featuring 360o virtual tours of the Olympic venues, daily news and polls and some promotional material for their latest smartphone, the Samsung Take Part 2012 is overall a fun and interactive app that may get your attention for a longer time than any of the apps presented above.

Value for Users: Medium-High

Value for Brand: High

Using augmented reality in mobile apps is growing in popularity which can only be good news, however throwing AR in the mix only for short-term promotional purposes is equally bad. Disappointingly, none of the AR apps presented above provides a real value for users (within their augmented reality capabilities) although some of them have managed to integrate AR within the whole app experience.

If you know any London 2012 Olympics app that uses AR in an innovative way share it with us in the comment box below.

2 thoughts on “Top 5 London 2012 Olympics Mobile AR Apps

  • September 16, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Could you explain why you’re disappointed with marker-based augmented reality? Granted, we’d love the 3d objects and just surroundings to be augmented, technology is still not quite there, that’s why markers are needed. To make it more contextual, small markers could be placed on products, just as QR codes.

    • September 19, 2012 at 11:53 am

      Because it represents a very basic technology where the user has to look for the QR code (sometimes they are placed in very obscure and hard to reach places e.g. bottom of a poster in a bus stop) and it is very limited in functionality and visual appeal. It needs to be printed on something and it doesn’t say anything to the user if not looked at through an AR-enabled camera.

      On the other hand, AR technology that recognizes names, fonts, shapes and colours of the existing objects that surround us is closer to how we perceive things making everything more intuitive and simpler for the end user.


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