Rafi Leigh

Rafi Leigh is MD of Special-FX, a supplier to the shopper marketing sector and a provider of stage and other special effects. After training at the AAA, he specialised in film and special effects in the UK. He founded Special-FX in South Africa in 1996 and started providing experiential marketers with interactive sets, props, scenery and displays. Contact Rafi on tel +27 (0)11 493 9666 or email .

[SIGGRAPH 2011] Day 1 – augmented reality

10 Aug 2011 14:27:00
VANCOUVER, CANADA: So here I am, in Vancouver, Canada, for the 38th annual global SIGGRAPH conference and exhibition, researching 3D film and gaming technologies and writing on emerging technologies and the potential applications for the South African retail sector. I’ll get to the point. Retail will never be the same again.

Why? Because my clients in the retail sector and their customers at the point of purchase are just as capable of downloading an app as am I; they have the same access to smartphones and iPads as I do; and they are seeing what I am seeing.

What does the customer want? The rapid developments of gaming, smartphone and filming technology have created a level of expectation among consumers that retailers are struggling to meet. App development and instant information, delivered anywhere, are driving a new type of consumer interface. Customers can, and do, expect much more.

This interface, central to SIGGRAPH this year, is ‘augmented reality’ and the players are challenging the status quo.

Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or an indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. By contrast, virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one.

There is a sense of commonality, and urgency, here. How do we deliver information to the customer, as well as the marketers and brand managers, in a meaningful way and thereby augment their daily experience? Who gets the mix right first? AR can only become meaningful once marketers and brand managers become in touch with AR in the retail environment in order to enhance customer engagement.

So, what am I doing here? I am looking to consolidate these nebulous technologies so that my clients in the fashion retail sector will be able to keep pace with their customer’s expectations – and even exceed them.

The SIGGRAPH convention is anything but conventional. This is a meeting of the world’s best minds, tracing a way forward, imagining a time after that. The thinking here is loose and ready - which is what we all need to be.

Read tomorrow’s blog for less on ‘what’, and much more on ‘how’.

To read more on the emerging technologies presentations at SIGGRAPH 2011, go to www.siggraph.org/s2011/for_attendees/emerging-technologies and Twitter (#siggraph #etech).

[10 Aug 2011 14:27]

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