What is the Attraction here: Star Wars or Augmented Reality?

By Norbert Hildebrand
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Christmas is over and Star Wars seem to have won in most categories. Of course, I am not talking about any TV, BluRay or DVD sales but the latest installment of the Star Wars saga at the movies. While the movie is available in a variety of formats including 3D, my take is not with the movie itself but an app that everyone can download from starwars.com, courtesy of Disney.

For the last six movies every fan who wanted to walk away with a photo with his or her favorite character from the movies needed a cardboard cutout to pose with. These cutouts were mostly available at theaters, and it was this photo opportunity that cost many viewers a better seat while waiting in line to have their picture taken.

StarWars cardboard cutoutSource: Firebox.com

While this is still happening in theaters around the globe, Disney has added a new option to create not only a once in lifetime picture opportunity, but also to allow fans to take video of the Star Wars characters in their own home. So far, only the First Order stormtrooper, flametrooper and BB-8 from the latest movie are available in the app, which is available from Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

StarWars ARSource: StarWars.com

The Star Wars app contains an AR button that allows the user to choose one of the characters and animations to have the character appear in front of the display screen. After the character has been downloaded and appears on the smartphone screen, you can take pictures and video to show that your PC is finally well protected.

Star Wars AR 2

Besides the cute idea, the application made me wonder what is really the marketing draw here. Star Wars has become such a huge attraction that many users may use the augmented reality feature to see more Star Wars. On the other hand, Disney added this feature to the Star Wars website to promote the movie in the first place. A very interesting situation.

While it seems that AR was added to promote the video, it may very well turn out that Star Wars promotes AR instead. If a successful movie like Star Wars uses AR to promote itself, many others will follow. Maybe the use of AR in the Star Wars app will have the same effect on augmented reality apps as Avatar had on the use of 3D in movies? One day we may look back at this time and see this as the start of the consumer’s acceptance of AR in their lives.

I know this sounds ridiculous; however these kinds of events are typically the starting pointing for shifts in consumer perspectives. And AR / VR needs a shift in consumer perspective to become a mainstream technology in coming years. – Norbert Hildebrand