2 May 2011 Last updated at 19:04 ET
Augmented reality goes beyond gimmicks for business
By Sharif Sakr
Technology of business reporter, BBC News
Augmented reality stunt: An angel moves among commuters at London Victoria Station
The people at Lynx cannot help but be pleased with the success of their latest deodorant.
Their new fragrance has emerged as their second-best-selling variant after just a few months on the market, thanks in large part to an innovative advertising campaign.
The campaign was fronted by Kelly Brook posing as a voluptuous fallen angel, but what made it unique was a stunt at London's Victoria Station, known by its orchestrators as Angel Ambush.
Commuters who happened to walk across a particular spot suddenly saw themselves on a vast video screen next to the departures board and, as they watched the screen, they discovered that they were not alone.
An angel, generated using augmented reality technology, fell to earth and appeared to interact with the unsuspecting humans, creating a stir and a viral YouTube clip that has since been viewed more than 750,000 times.
"We didn't know if it would work, either technically or in terms of how people would respond to it," said Becca Sawyer of Mindshare, the advertising agency that came up with the Angel Ambush idea.
"We just thought it would be fantastic if an angel could seem to appear in real-life. Augmented reality is all about creating a fantasy experience that people can interact with."
Although the stunt may have looked cutting edge, it was actually a relatively simple application of augmented reality: a technology that is a capable of more than just stunts.
Hold it, buy it
Some experts have commented that Angel Ambush was not 'real' augmented reality at all, because the virtual angel was just a layer of video manipulated by a human operator, rather than an independent 3D object.
According to Myles Peyton, UK Sales Director at tech firm Total Immersion, the true commercial power of augmented reality lies in its ability to let consumers virtually hold and interact with products that are fully and accurately modelled in the virtual world.
Video at link.