Augmented reality, coming soon to a Coke can near you

Now that the super-animated almost-real movie Avatar is about to roll out (in theaters 12/18/09), here come the advertisers with spectacular new types of techno-toys to accompany the flick. For instance, if you hold a tricky Coke Zero can up to your webcam, it sprouts a controllable helicopter. Click the frame above to see a video of that. Hey, this looks like fun. This augmented reality (AR) juju will, be plastered on 140 million bottle-shaped cans, some 30 million fridge packs, as well as bags, bottles, popcorn bags and fountain drink cups.

You'll also be able to pick up a card at McDonald's that you hold in front of your webcam, and when you go to an Avatar-branded website, out pops an animation that looks like a real mechanical toy. There will be playable games associated with these controllable 3D animations, offered as bonuses with Big Macs and Happy Meals at the Micky-D fast feeder.

So that's what they mean by augmented reality. We've seen some crude AR before, first with a lame Best Buy ad, where if you held the company's brochure up to your webcam you could move around a 3D laptop. But this goes way beyond that. Whether it sells more big Macs or Coca-Cola, or makes more people go to James Cameron's film remains to be seen. But just think of the possibilities for this augmented reality. Wow. Here's a video of the Avatar card:

Via Variety