Foursquare's already a technology to keep your eye on if you're interested in geotagging, augmented reality, social gaming, and hyper-local ads, but it's just added a new attraction just in time for the Holidays: Charity, for New York players at least.
In a blog post today, Foursquare's team note that they are "super excited" about the new deal. For about a month the company has been looking for a sponsor for its New York City leaderboard—the table by which New York-based Foursquare players work out how well they're doing compared to the other players of the location-based pseudo-AR game. Now they've teamed up with Pepsi, but there's an unexpectedly sweet pay-off from what sounds like just another business ad-sponsorship scheme.
Simply put, every time you log into a Foursquare location and add a point to the NYC leaderboard scores between now and midnight December 13, Foursquare and Pepsi will together donate $0.04 to charity. The chosen recipient is CampInteractive—an organization that, appropriately enough, tries to "empower inner-city youth through technology skills" as well as mentoring. It's a generous move by Pepsi—a name that you could well argue doesn't really need any extra PR, and it's got such potential for generating cash (as the official blog post puts it "things can tend to get out of hand with foursquare") that there's a ceiling of $10,000.
And that is actually the most promising thing about this move: The potential implications for the future of charitable donations. For years charities have been trying to get more money out of the pockets of the generous public by co-opting new technology into their cause. And geotagging and AR are clearly future tech that could have massive potential for charities. Imagine a geocached/geotagged AR game that would reward the users with fun and sponsoring charities with hard cash if the users were required to, say, go stand in front of a particular billboard in some sort of flashmob event, or shop at a particular store. That's not so much more sophisticated than Foursquare's deal with Pepsi—but it's potentially way more fun. It's also a much more wholesome use of the clever AR tech than personalized, localized AR advertising placements.