If the world of apps, mobile websites, and mobile email aren’t enough to blow your mind, then Augmented Reality (AR) and the new functionality it is bringing might do just that. AR has been used for years, but not until recently has it hit Australia, and opened up the world of mobile marketing in a totally different way. Combined with GPS technology, your smartphone’s camera and built-in compass, AR is turning everything we knew about mobile marketing on its head.

Okay, what on earth is AR? It allows you to see a real time view of what’s around you using your smartphone’s camera, and then overlays content on top which might highlight certain elements, or allow you to find more information about what you’re looking at.

Companies all over the world are tapping into this technology to build custom apps, or enhance the experience of their current apps.

Here’s 3 examples:

CommBank Property Guide app (pictured – probably one of the first that really started people talking) – this app allows users to point their phone at a property and it overlays live images from the device’s camera with information including the property’s sales history, current listings and recent sales. CommBank extended this concept by developing an 3D augmented reality press advertisement – users had to view it through their phone’s camera to unlock its content.

Urban Spoon iPhone app – this international restaurant guide app provides users with a list of restaurants near by to them, and they can shake their phone to have the app randomly select one they should go to (like a slot machine).

Pizza Hut iPhone app – directions and distance to the closest Pizza Hut store are overlayed on the users screen, and change depending on what direction they are facing.

The coupon trend (which I blogged about previously) has also started to meld with the world of AR, with several providers now offering an app that provides ‘as-you-go’ deals and coupons – in other words, as you walk past a store with your phone’s camera on, a deal will pop up for that store. It’s not huge in Australia yet, but it will be.

Location-based marketing (i.e. Foresquare, Facebook Places) is already making a big impact in Australia and it won’t be long before AR is linked via mobiles, social media networks and more.

It’s an exciting technology that has heaps of potential, for every business. Watch this space!