Exploring the potential for augmented reality in NZ business

Had the urge to jump the ditch to Aussie lately? Over the past month we’ve given over 1,000 people the chance to do just that, with our immersive AR experience that instantly transports people to Australia via a smartphone.

Standing on a large map of Australia and using the latest iPhone X, people could step through one of three virtual doorways into an immersive 360° video of an Aussie cityscape – whether that was a buzzy Darling Harbour view with Luna Park and the Opera House in the background, a bustling downtown scene in Adelaide’s Rundle Mall, or a sparkling vantage point from Perth’s iconic Queen Elizabeth Quay Bridge. From there, you could move the phone around to explore the full environment, or try stepping into another city.

The experience was devised and brought to life by digital agency YoungShand in partnership with Roam Creative, using Apple’s ARKit, - Apples set of software development tools which enable developers to build augmented-reality apps for iOS. This new technology, which was enhanced in Apple’s September 2017 iOS release, means you can build detailed virtual reality content on top of real-world scenes.

The magic of AR apps are that they can recognise the spaces around you and then place virtual objects on horizontal surfaces. (Another example is Ikea's iOS app, Ikea Place, which allows you to position virtual furniture around your house. Closer to home Freedom offer a similar app.) In our case, the tech finds horizontal and vertical planes in any room or space to place virtual doorways to Australian cities. The footage from Australia was captured from 6 GoPro cameras, then digitally stitched together to make the 360* videos that people experience when they step through the doorways. The app also makes use of the camera’s sensor to apply realistic lighting to the virtual objects, making the experience completely immersive.

Within the business community AR is already enabling new ways of remote collaboration, training and education, showcasing products or even for tours of properties and spaces. In many ways, AR has the ability to change the way we do business, with exciting applications that promise to streamline communications, operations, and improve the bottom line.

Whether AR will significantly change things for NZ businesses any time soon is yet to be seen, but there’s no doubt there’s potential gains for anyone willing to take the plunge. Our experience working with AR to showcase a new product was definitely a positive one. It allowed us to communicate the ability to use your mobile phone plan in Australia in an innovative and new way whilst engaging with and entertaining customers.

Watch how we did it: