Augmented reality is now a reality thanks to Aurasma, a technology from Autonomy, an HP company. Aurasma is a platform that has its own free app, Aurasma Lite, which can be used on the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad2, the new iPad, or a similarly powerful Android wireless mobile device. By launching the app on a device and pointing it at a tangible object such as a building, movie poster, or newspaper, or an intangible object such as a symbol or digital image, a user is immediately presented with one or more layers of rich media content, such as sound, video, or animation, which relates in some way to the object. Static images are no longer static. The layers of rich media content can be updated as frequently as desired by the enterprises creating them for their customers. Ovum believes there are immediate applications for insurance claim adjustors, underwriters, and marketing staff.
Here’s looking at you, kid
Aurasma was created using technology that is capable of recognising images, symbols, and objects in the real world and making them more understandable. Using the camera viewer on an Apple or Android device, Aurasma combines image recognition and a conceptual understanding of the 3D world to recognise objects and images and seamlessly merge augmented reality actions with them to make them interactive. Ovum sees this as the concept of “presence” on steroids.
Peeking behind the curtain
The Wizard of Oz tried to persuade Dorothy and her friends not to pay any attention to the man behind the curtain, but enterprises wanting to use Aurasma for commercial purposes must pull the curtain aside. Aurasma seems like magic – it certainly did to us when we downloaded the Aurasma Lite app from the App Store on an iPhone 4S, pointed it at the flag on the back of a $20 bill, and experienced the seemingly out-of-nowhere sound and animation. However, there must be a person behind the curtain making the magic happen. The layers of rich media content that spontaneously erupt around, beside, and on the object being viewed do not come out of thin air.
Autonomy told Ovum that Aurasma is a platform that allows clients to create their own augmented reality experiences within the app. However, for more professional uses, it also has its own back-end content management system (CMS), which makes it easy for clients to create “Auras” – augmented reality actions – and build a variety of actions such as sound, video, animation, and web links that will be associated with a tangible asset such as a building, or an intangible asset such as a picture of a thing or a person. Enterprises using Aurasma can also refresh any or all of the layers of content so that a user (whether a customer or an employee) viewing an asset can see up-to-date information, such as a breaking news story layered on what seems like the same static newspaper article viewed several times during the day. Moreover, Aurasma told Ovum that there are “Super Auras,” Auras that are viewable by any user who downloads Aurasma Lite.
Aurasma can benefit insurance marketing, claims, and underwriting
All insurers, regardless of their line of business, could use Aurasma for marketing. An insurance company can create a set of content layers that, when fused together, provide agents or brokers with video and sound from the chief marketing or sales officer explaining a marketing campaign, its objectives, its start and end dates, the products involved, and the customers being targeted. Property and casualty (P&C) insurers could use Aurasma for managing claims, specifically automobile claims, by viewing a damaged vehicle and immediately “seeing” what the vehicle looked like before the accident. If there is an automobile accident and there are cameras which captured the scene before and during the accident, a claim adjustor could have a better sense of which driver was at fault. An insurance underwriter could view an underwriting procedural document and hear the head underwriter discuss changes to various acceptance criteria concerning one or more insurance products.
Potential future moves of the Aurasma visual browser
In the future, Aurasma might be available as an app embedded in a user’s glasses or contact lenses. However, before Auras move into eyewear, a user can double-tap on their device screen while an Aura is playing to move it to full-screen and continue the rich media experience without needing to hold the device up to the object. Regardless of where or how it occurs, each Aurasma “Aura” created by an insurer needs to be brief while simultaneously exposing pertinent information, if insurance home office operational, marketing, and sales staff are to be expected to use the app.
Barry Rabkin is a prinicpal analyst in insurance technology at Ovum.