While Apple continues to convince the world that they actually need every new generation of their phones (a disconcerting feat that may signal the demise of mankind), they’re always busy bringing something else to the table to wow and captivate even more. It’s manifested this time in a campaign to involve everyone in a worldwide augmented reality experience.

Marketing Genius

Marketing is the key to convincing consumers they “need” something, and Apple has led the pack in that arena for decades now. What better way to persuade the masses that they need AR in their lives than to engage them in an actual experience and monitor the feedback?

Apple joined forces with the New Museum in New York City to create two-hour [AR]T Walks at six of the more than 500 Apple stores around the world. Each walk is identical regardless of the location, and each was created by renowned artists, including Cao Fei, Nick Cave, Carsten Holler, Nathalie Djurberg, Hans Berg, and Pipilotti Rist. From start to finish, the walks took a year to conceive and implement

The Walk

Each walk is the same, with the only variant being the cityscape in which it takes place. In San Francisco, the walk starts at Maiden Lane, a street devoid of any vehicles. The first piece the walkers encounter is from Nick Cave. Cave’s inimitable wearable “soundsuits” appear on each participant’s phone screen in the form of whirling virtual soundsuits that they manipulate with taps and swipes as they go along. At the street’s end, a gargantuan transparent sign displays all the patterns and images created by the participants.

Of course, this magic doesn’t happen by itself. Two members of Apple’s staff are on the walk helping create the illusions. One uses an iPad to direct the private [AR]T Walk app each walker is given by Apple at the onset of the walk. Another employee directs the crowd on exactly how to generate the fantastic details of the AR experience on their apps.

The walk is roughly a mile and a half long and includes two other amazing experiences ranging from capricious to austere. In Cao Fei’s “Trade Eden,” an intricate web of conveyor belts carrying unmarked boxes occupies a plaza, creating a bleak view of global trade and its pointlessness. Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg’s “This Is It” uses a succession of speech balloons to lure participants into a beckoning grove of trees that flashes admonitory messages as they go.

The Apple Store Experience

Since the actuals walks are so limited, Apple is offering a less magnificent but still impressive AR experience at all its stores. Every outlet on earth will have an [AR]T installation for customers to explore and learn how to create their own personal augmented reality experience, with expert staff on hand to help out.

Rumor has it that in the not so distant future, Apple associates will be phased out altogether, since you’ll be able to just pop on your AR headgear and have all the details of their products transmitted directly into your ears.