Augmented and virtual reality tech is growing more popular by the minute. The difference between the two — if you don’t already know — is one takes place in a completely digital world while the other merges digital elements with that of the real world. Unlike VR tech, augmented reality devices allow you to interact with the real world in unique ways.
Take modern AR apps for smartphones as an example. Yelp Monocle uses a combination of the device’s GPS and an internal compass to display nearby attractions such as restaurants, stores, bars and more. Google’s Ingress is one of the most creative AR games available and allows players to interact with game-world elements that are projected into the real world.
AR can be much more practical than that, though. The Singapore Post showed all of us just how practical the technology can be by unveiling limited-edition augmented reality collectors’ stamps.
Augmented Reality Stamps, What Are They?
The Singapore Post — Singapore’s postal service — released the limited edition Special SG50 Collectors’ Sheets on July 1, and they use augmented reality to display various elements. The sheets can be scanned with a smartphone application — on Android or iPhone — to display unique Singapore videos. The videos that play include Home and We are Singapore, two montages that pay homage to the country’s roots. This marks the 50th anniversary of independence for Singapore.
The app called MARC, available for free, will allow interested parties to watch the video montage after scanning the appropriate area of the stamps. The stamps themselves can be kept as unique collectibles, no doubt becoming a commodity over time.
Peggy Teo, the assistant vice-president of philatelic and stamps at SingPost, said the company is releasing these unique sheets to “reinvent” themselves.
“SingPost is always trying to reinvent itself, and we are always looking out for new, novel ways to make stamps more interesting. ”
Teo went on to say the reason SingPost decided to create augmented reality stamps is because:
“This year is a very special year. We wanted to bring history to life through this small piece of stamp. Using the augmented reality, we then could have the history of Singapore […] told through this tiny little stamp. And with the video, […] basically the whole Singapore story comes to life from these sets of stamps.”
Okay, So What About the Real Stamps?
In Singapore, stamps are a large part of the culture. Stamps there have a social, economic and political impact.
Stamp collecting is a big form of business for investors, too, because they hold such value in Singapore. In fact, a large part of the state’s history is memorialized and told through stamps. If you happen to be in the area, you can attend the SG50 stamp exhibition from Jul 21 at the Singapore Philatelic Museum. A tour will take visitors through the history of the state and introduce them to rare stamps on display in the museum.
Back to the collectors’ sheets, they will also be sold alongside two different stamps, which will cost five Singapore dollars each. The first stamp is the 1960 National Day, and the second is the 1961 National Day.
The 1960 National Day stamp features the Singapore state flag and was the final release in a set of four, which commemorate the World Stamp Exhibition that’s being hosted by Singapore in August 2015. This is the first time the exhibition has been hosted there since 2004.
The original stamp was issued on June 3, 1960, for the first anniversary of National Day. The 1961 National Day stamps — which are similar — were launched in August 2014, and they are the third set in the entire series.
More limited-edition sheets will be available at the Singapore Post Office, including two imperforated collector’s sheets, one of which will cost $50, while the other is $88 and has golden serialized numbers on it.
Will We See More AR Stamps?
Now that Singapore has done something like this, it’s likely other countries may follow suit. I find it hard to believe no one else would use AR in a similar manner to create limited-edition stamps or even coins of some kind.
What do you think about AR stamps? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Image by La Melodie