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Augmented Reality billboard puts passersby in a street fight

May 21, 2010 | Chris Payatagool
By: Barb Dybward [From Mashable ("The Social Media Guide")]

We've seen a number of creative uses for augmented reality recently, from Iron Man to virtual pets and even tattoos. An interactive billboard in the Netherlands brings a powerful new example to the category by putting passersby in the middle of a virtual street fight.

The Dutch government created the billboard to address a pressing problem for public employees, who are often the targets of aggression and outright violence when performing their daily service duties. The problem is compounded by Dutch citizens' reluctance to interfere in others' fights.

The goal of the PSA is to encourage citizens to stand up for public workers in violent confrontations. The augmented reality billboard, placed above a busy intersection in Amsterdam, shows a real-time view of the street below but superimposes a green screen-filmed street fight into the otherwise empty curb space. As passersby stop to stare at themselves on the billboard, they are confronted with a tense altercation occurring right in front of them.

The Dutch government hopes the ad will provoke a feeling of shame by showing citizens what they look like when they ignore such situations. It's an ambitious and complex emotional experiment that injects AR into daily life. It's also inspiring intense interest from Amsterdam pedestrians.

Check out the video and let us know what you think. Is an augmented reality street scenario jarring and strange or is it the future of advertising? Or both?

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