Marvel & Paramount releases a new augmented reality site / application today powered by Total Immersion technology that lets you see what you’d look like wearing the Iron Man / War Machine helmets or go inside the helmet to see the internal Heads Up Display. I’ve written before about Total Immersion AR for the work they did with Tops Baseball Cards and this new Iron Man AR experience is just as interesting as that was one. The big difference between the two is that this new Iron Man experience doesn’t require you to have a baseball card or print out a marker for it to work. You would think that would a huge step forward but it comes with a different set of problems. First is that you have to go through the dreaded plug-in download which is only around 5MB but we all know how prohibitive that simple step can be for people. Next is that I found the plug-in initialization took a really long time. I launched the site, clicked to start the experience and it took me over 5 minutes on my insanely fast FIOS connection to have the plug-in initialize and download the content. During that time I was treated to only a spastic loading bar which felt like a missed opportunity to sell tickets, market a promotional partner or pretty much anything but making me look at that load bar. The plug-in finally came online, I picked my webcam and a few second later the video came up with an open Iron Man helmet popping over my face. After a second or two the helmet snaps shut to give you the full effect of the helmet. The helmet is able to track with your head pretty well and would only consistently lose position if you the turned part 45 degrees right or left. After trying it a few times I found it struggled with how big to make the helmet and it would either make it too small so I had red hair sticking out the top or too big so it would make me look like a bobble head. You can record all of this which is a great idea to make the content viral but yet again I found it crushed by technical problems. I hit the record button, played around with the helmet and when it was done I hit OK hoping to be able to post in this article. The first times I wait 30 minutes and got nada. Tried a third time and waited and hour and you got it – nada. The ‘Processing Video’ message was the only thing I was treated so sorry but you get the generic YouTube video instead.
So while you can see how augmented reality technology is advancing in this site the technical problems are just too much overcome. If they can find a way to create this experience more in line with the older embedded web site technology and lose the install and initiation time then I think it will be moving into an area where we can start creating some seriously interesting experiences.