Lego: Toying with Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) tools are changing the way consumers visually interact with both the real and virtual world. Today, users can place 3D animations directly into live video streams, integrate images from the external user environment, and essentially connect the digital to the physical experience. AR is being used in everything from video games and Iphone apps, to military training programs and mechanical maintenance.

Lego has been experimenting with this technology for the last year or so as it has rapidly become a popular interactive marketing tool. The mega toy company has been using “Digital Boxes” that superimpose a rendering of the fully-assembled and functioning Lego model sitting on the product’s box when it is held up to the screen. The Digital Box was designed by Metaio for Lego, and is currently in select toy stores and Lego shops all over the world.

Lego has been pushing Augmented Reality in their packaging as well as at point-of-purchase displays and stands with the ultimate goal of increasing in-store sales. The ability for consumers to see what the fully-assembled toy will look like as well as how it can be used creates an entirely new and unique mental and emotional purchase process. Consider the kid that did not intend on buying one of these toys that is featured on a digital box: If he can actually see himself playing with it, maybe he can see himself playing with it… even though he might not have considered it beforehand… if that makes sense.

The already-limited attention span of today’s youth has been cut down even further by new and competitive technologies like this. Simply holding the toy box, looking at the pictures and imagining yourself playing with it hours later after you get home doesn’t cut it anymore. The new challenge to toy companies, their creative agencies and marketing professionals, is to create an individualized and increasingly-interactive user experience from the first moment the consumer comes in contact with the product.