Immersive tech start-up pioneers first-of-its-kind AR app
Liverpool start-up AR Independent has pioneered a first-of-its-kind augmented reality (AR) app six months after launching, following support from the Activate programme.
The immersive mobile app ‘Aug-It!’ – which is set to pave a new era in food and nightlife culture – enables businesses to promote their brand through bespoke augmented and mixed reality experiences, in a cost-effective way.
By working in collaboration with project partner Liverpool Business School’s Research Developer, Amanda Ordish, AR Independent was able to access free bespoke consultancy, as well as specialist equipment and technical expertise to design and test the feasibility of the software.
AR Independent is one of the first companies to partake in Activate, a £5m project part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund that supports digital and creative businesses across the Liverpool City Region, by providing access to emerging technologies and expertise, to help accelerate the develop products and get off the ground.
The collaboration has landed AR Independent its first client, Dockside Dining, which is now set to become the city’s first fully immersive dining experience when it opens its doors on Liverpool’s Mann Island later this month, as well as a London based restaurant chain and festival.
By downloading Aug-It!, customers will be able to take a fully immersive experience of over 15 restaurants within Dockside Dining via the AR ‘pop-up’ menu on their smart-phone, giving them a real-world look at what’s on offer. The app will enable customers to interact directly with the restaurant brands by uploading messages and photos to virtual bubbles and balloons, which can then be shared on social media.
Aug-It! is now undergoing further development to integrate gaming and product recognition functions, as well as virtual location tracking.
Anthony Hagan, Creative Director at AR-Independent said: “The idea for the Aug-It! hatched when I was living in California, and I got to see the sheer scale that AR is being harnessed in sports and events for brand engagement, and I wanted to bring the same technological advances to the UK.
“Through Activate, the company has leapfrogged from a blue-sky idea to a commercially available product, and it has happened much faster than I ever imagined. Even without the access to the grant funding, it would have been worth going through Activate solely for the business support.”
Jonathon Clark, Business and Technology Manager, LCR Activate, said: “AR Independent is a perfect example of a company within the digital and creative sector that had a ground-breaking idea but lacked the business support to get off the ground.
“We are thrilled at how AR Independent and the ‘Aug-It! app has grown over the past six months as emerging technologies such as augmented reality (AR) have so much potential to transform the consumer market.”
LCR Activate provides support and funding to help digital and creative SMEs in the Liverpool City Region grow using emerging technologies. Help provided includes bespoke 1-2-1 support, workshops and grants. It enables businesses to launch new products, promote them effectively and sell them to new markets by unlocking barriers.
The overall aim of the programme is to boost business growth across the Liverpool City Region. It is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), led by Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and run in partnership with the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT) and the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LCR LEP).
European Regional Development Fund.
The project is part-funded by the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.