Augmented Reality FAIL

Last weekend The Times was running its first augmented reality campaign, as part of a sponsored supplement to promote the DVD release of the family film ‘Night at the Museum 2′.

Night

Was it just us or did the hype surrounding the ‘first augmented reality campaign’ spectacularly fail to live up to the reality?

Apparently The Times was going to include a pull out supplement in the Nov 6th edition so, being huge AR fans, we all dashed out and bought copies only to find that the promised supplement was going to be in the Nov 7th edition instead – FAIL #1

So, the next day we wasted more time and money on The Times. By the time I got around to looking at it my better half had already thrown the tacky looking insert in the bin. Much verbal banter ensued as we trawled through the rubbish bin to find and uncrumple it.

Next we visited http://www.nightatthemuseumcomestolife.co.uk (haven’t they heard of short urls?) and downloaded the required ActiveX plug-in (which the small print assured me was going to work on my Mac running Snow Leopard). Then we quit Safari, installed the drivers and eagerly booted up again waiting to see the tiny miracle of some sort of living T. Rex on my desktop.

Pressing the big red ‘See Rex’ button bought us nothing but a big black rectangle to stare into. We waited and waited… and waited some more. Maybe there’s a problem with the web cam? So we opened up Photo Booth only to find that the web cam was dead – no signal at all… Damn, reboot the computer, check that the web cam is working now (it is) back to Safari, back to the site with the really long url and… nothing. Again. FAIL #2.

By this time we’ve invested enough time and money into this to really want to see this bloody dinosaur cavorting around on my desk. Maybe Firefox will work? Download the latest build, install, reboot everything again just for good measure and back to the site. Now things are looking more promising – there’s a progress bar in the black hole where something interesting should be happening. But it’s stuck at about 20%. Nothing’s happening. Has it crashed? Restart Firefox and a new progress bar appears and says ‘Initializing’. The bar fills up and then… fills up again… and again. After filling up about 10 times Firefox crashed. FAIL #3

So, we re-launched Firefox which gave as a very cute ‘well, this is embarrassing – something seems to have gone wrong’ dialog. I couldn’t have put it any better myself…

We still haven’t seen any augmented reality dinosaurs and the whole sorry thing left a bad taste – I’m just glad we didn’t have a bunch of disappointed kids to deal with afterwards…

On last gripe – I’ve now installed a bunch of useless ActiveX drivers into my browser which will probably do more harm than good and cause all sorts of problems in the future. Guess what, the installer didn’t have an ‘uninstall’ option either… FAIL #4

Did anybody get it up and running and if so, was it worth it?

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