Augmented Reality Greeting Card Takes "Happy Holidays" To New (Virtual) Heights

If you're looking for bandwagons that are heating up as the new decade gets set to begin, look no further than these two: 3D and Augmented Reality. The former has gained all sorts of industry support, from film producers to consumer electronics mainstays, while the latter is still building a loyal following underground. But at this rate, it won't be long before AR is a common word in the every day techie's vocabulary, and if we really want to take a wild stab at things, we'd say that MTV will be using this stuff on air (in a goofy manner, no less) within just a few years.

Predictions aside, Rosetta is looking to make that push towards the mainstream relatively early on by introducing an augmented reality holiday card. Yeah, a card that wishes your favorite people Happy Holidays now features augmented reality. How...futuristic! Rosetta is America's largest independent interactive advertising agency, and in order to demonstrate its prowess (or just make everyone else look like they're behind the times), it has decided to spice up this Christmas with a new greeting card. Said card combines motion detection and facial recognition elements and challenges recipients to collect a million digital snowflakes with their tongues, which will in turn benefit New Orleans youth.

If you're still wondering why you haven't heard of AR, or what it even is, here's a consise description from the company:
"Augmented reality is a term for a live view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are merged with (or augmented by) virtual computer-generated imagery, creating a mixed reality. For Rosetta's holiday card, the agency developed an algorithm that is able to detect, as accurately as possible, when a person's mouth is open and when his or her tongue is stuck out. According to Rosetta, this is the first time augmented reality technology has been able to distinguish a feature as intricate as a person's tongue against the background of a human face. Rosetta created the motion detection and facial recognition technologies using flash and combined the elements in a way that allows them to work in sync and form a game."

Rather than just singing a song or presenting someone with a worn out joke, the recipient of this card will be able to play an interactive game when they open it up, one that involves catching falling snowflakes. When a viewer hits "play," their webcam automatically boots up, and from there, the player is asked to stick out his or her tongue, and the new augmented reality technology tracks the player's tongue movements with his or her head and shoulder movements. Each time a player's tongue catches a snowflake on the screen, a point will be added to the automatically updated tally that shows how many snowflakes have been caught by all card recipients. When one million snowflakes are captured, Rosetta will sponsor a "snow day" for New Orleans children who have never experienced a snow day. The event will take place in a New Orleans' City Park on February 20th, 2010 and will feature games and activities, food and beverages and an appearance by "Frosty the Snowman." The festivities will be capped by six inches of "real" snow.
Rosetta emailed the holiday card on December 15th to thousands of clients and friends who are encouraged to pass it along. The card can also be viewed / downloaded at