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Put on your sneakers and explore a virtual world

By on January 14, 2010

Augmented Reality seems to be the catch phrase of the year considering how often I've been hearing about it and reading articles covering the topic over the past year. While we've seen the innovative use of AR by Lego to help the consumer experience the completed design once built, I just ran across a new offering by Adidas that enables you to experience a fantastic virtual world via your sneakers. See following Wired.com for full article.

So, the question is...what's next?

Adidas Turns the Sneaker Into an Augmented Reality Device

By Priya Ganapati

Can’t find your Nintendo DS? Try one of the new Adidas sneakers instead.

Adidas has created a virtual 3-D world that can be accessed using an upcoming line of five men’s sneakers in an idea that ties into one of the technology trends of the year: augmented reality.

“The foundation of augmented reality lies in adding a layer to the real world,” says Chris Barbour, head of digital marketing for Adidas Originals. “That’s what we have done. We have taken a real world item and added a fantastic virtual world on top of that”

All users have to do is go to the Adidas site and hold up their sneaker, which has a code embedded in its tongue, in front of their computer webcam. A virtual world then pops out in front of them and they can navigate it using their sneaker as a controller.

“We are not trying to mimic a real-world look, we have a more stylized, pop-up book creative approach,” says Barbour. “The neighborhood is displayed on a two dimensional computer screen, but you can use your shoe to control the angle and depth of view and zoom in and out, giving a 3-D sense of perspective.”

Over the next few months, Adidas plans to introduce three augmented reality games developed by game developer xForm into the virtual neighborhood. The sneakers will then serve not only as the key to get in, but also act as the controller for the games. Among those available will be a skateboard game, where the sneaker acts as the controller to navigate the virtual city’s alleys, a Star Wars-like game with the sneaker and a music-based game.

The shoes with the augmented reality codes will cost between $65 and $95 and will be available starting February.

Sure, a large part of this is a marketing gimmick and Adidas is not the only company to try out augmented reality in its products. But that doesn’t take away from that this is an idea that makes an ordinary physical object fun and injects some technological pizzaz to it.

Christina Arbini is the Public Relations Supervisor at Hornall Anderson. Contact her at c_arbini@hornallanderson.com or follow her on LinkedIn or Twitter @PR_ChristinaA.

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