Weekly Highlights: Mercedes-Benz, Shazam, Ikea, IAB and more

I write this from a hotel room in Munich, where Ive spent the last couple of days at Metaios InsideAR event.

Like a lot of other people in this industry, I feel conflicted about Augmented Reality. The potential is huge, but thats not often harnessed into real, useful examples. While Ive seen my share of gimmickry this week, Ive seen some great applications of the technology too, like Ikea, which had the sense to actually ask what AR could help it achieve before diving in. 

 Overall, its helped to somewhat restore my faith in the future of AR. Except Im beginning to suspect that future might not actually be on mobile, in the traditional sense. The two biggest devices at the event werent smartphones and tablets, they were smart glasses and (stretching the definition a little) cars.

The number of car manufacturers showing their wares at the event was remarkable, and theres some great competitive one-upmanship – and an obvious practical use case – in the automotive industry, which should help drive the technology forward. You can find out what Mercedes-Benz is currently working on here.

Meanwhile, trying out Vuzixs wearable devices and speaking to vice president Dan Cui, it became apparent that the future of smart glasses doesnt sit entirely on Googles shoulders. The M-100 is aimed at a very different market to Glass, but that should free people up to experiment with it in a way that doesnt currently look possible – at least officially – in Googles closed ecosystem.

Elsewhere, the headlong rush towards years end continues. The IAB hit us with two sets of H1 ad spend figures this week, from both the UK and the US, sharing a common message – the marketing dollars going towards mobile is finally catching up with usage; while Twitter partnered with Comcast for TV content; and MasterCard further expanded its MasterPass mobile offering, already live with 20,000 retailers, with a solution for publishers looking to sell directly from the pages of their digital magazines.

Finally, I recommend Kirsty Styles interview with Shazam executive director Andrew Fisher. As well as hinting towards a forthcoming IPO, Fisher talked numbers – like the 2m new users Shazam gains each week – and how the company sees itself as Facebook and Twitter start to get serious about TV marketing.

Thanks for reading and, until Monday, auf wiedersehen.

Alex Spencer

Online Editor