Augmented reality (AR) technologies, which superimpose information from computers on real fields of view in real time, began to be actually used on streets in Japan.
For example, they are now being used for improving item description on digital signage, providing new features to show windows and helping shoppers find stores.
One of the Japanese companies that promptly employed AR technologies is Toppan Printing Co Ltd. It began testing a terminal that looks like a vending machine and features AR functions and functions to showcase products at three Ito-Yokado supermarkets in October 2009.
For example, consumers can use their mobile phones to read the QR codes that are printed together with sample product information on electronics fliers available on Toppan's Website. After completing member registration on the Website, they receive a QR code. When they show the QR code to the camera equipped on one of the terminals, they can get a sample product.
Furthermore, when the package of a sample product is shown to the terminal's camera, the display on the terminal superimposes the description of the product on a real image.
Sony Music Communications Inc (SMC) and Sky&Road Co Ltd are providing the "interactive show-window display using AR technologies" for offering shoppers new experience. When a person stands in front of the display, it superimposes a virtual image around the person in the real image by using face recognition technology.
"We are offering an experience like being drawn into a wonderland," the companies said.
The display was developed by using the AR development kit of Total Immersion, a France-based software solutions provider.
The display is exhibited in the show window and children's clothing department at an Isetan department store in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, from December 2 to 25, 2009.
(Continue to the next page)