When augmented reality technology emerged, it became the king of all buzz in certain marketing and technology circles. And while its earlier applications—on toy boxes and baseball cards—tended toward the gimmicky, with the potential of newer developments like Google Glass, it's clear that digital layers on the physical world will be a more regular part of our everyday reality.
Designer and filmmaker Keiichi Matsuda has gained a profile by envisioning that future where AR and the Internet go well beyond screens and devices to become an overwhelming part of our physical world. Three years ago, during his architecture studies at The Bartlett School, he made two short web films that showed how our entire fields of vision could become interactive interfaces. The projects garnered a lot of attention when they launched, but Matsuda knew he'd someday return to push these ideas further.
His latest effort is a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for Hyper-Reality, a series of short films set in Medellin, Colombia that eschew the usual jetpacks-and-flying-cars vision of the future to focus on ideas around and consequences of smart cities, super-social media, and ubiquitous augmented reality.
"Hyper-Reality is much bigger and more ambitious," says Matsuda. "It's a more refined critique, and a fuller sense of place than the previous films."
While his previous projects have incorporated brands and the ubiquitous nature of digital advertising into the narrative—at times feeling like Minority Report crossed with The Greatest Movie Ever Sold—this time out Matsuda is inviting marketers in as partners, to help fund production and make his vision of our impending techno-future more realistic.
"An inevitable consequence of the Internet mingling with the physical world, is that advertising and commercial environments would become an even bigger part of our cities," he says. "I'm really intrigued as to how this would affect our experience, so I'm planning to create some innovative and visually arresting branded environments within the film."
Brand opportunities range from logo placements to having entire scenes shot in a futuristic version of a sponsor's retail space. Matsuda says the first film in the series has already sold out of top rewards. "Having real brands involved strengthens the films' post-modern appeal, and it's an ironic nod to the very systems that the film critiques," he says.
While the films' aim is to highlight the possibilities of the future, they're also meant to temper blind optimism and look closer at the darker consequences these advancements could have.
"I want to use the film as a platform for debate to anyone who is worried about where technology might be taking us," says Matsuda. "By creating more visions, and talking about them publicly, I believe that it's possible to influence the people who are involved in developing these technologies in the first place."