Comment & Opinion

The democratisation of location-powered AR for developers and marketers is underway

Verve's Mark Ollila discusses augmented reality tech with GoMeta's Dmitry Shapiro

The democratisation of location-powered AR for developers and marketers is underway

Mark Ollila is General Manager, Devices at Verve.

Augmented reality is upon us. In a post-Pokemon GO world, the next wave of AR innovation is percolating.

Game developers, location-powered marketers and brands are reaching for the next generation of tools that will add augmented reality to their consumer-facing strategies.

But how will organisations build the AR experiences they want to share? Does every marketing shop need a studio of technologists to code each iteration, or will there be user interfaces that help marketers and brands - and everyone else, for that matter - get the job done?

Answers are already evolving. In this article, one instalment in a series of conversations with leaders in the location-powered game and marketing space, we turn to Dmitry Shapiro, Co-Founder at GoMeta, which, at the seven-month mark, is building an authoring environment that allows developers and marketers to create and deploy augmented-reality experiences.

Mark Ollila, Verve: What is GoMeta building and how will it help developers, brands and marketing build a future rich in geo-aware AR experiences?

Dmitry Shapiro, GoMeta: Our platform is called Metaverse. It allows it allows non-technical people to quickly author geo-aware, interactive experiences, taking what are basically the atomic units of location-based annotation - experiences, or sometimes we call them points - and gluing them together into what we refer to as dimensions - similar to channels on YouTube.

For example, we've covered San Diego State University with geofences and then, algorithmically, we draw on a database of around 16,000 trivia questions, associate them with a character at a specific location, and create an on-screen experience.

In this dimension, if you approach the point and you get the trivia question right, then you get a San Diego State coin. That coin can be used to play a virtual slot machine, spinning the wheel and find out if you won anything. We have over 400 businesses that have contributed over 30,000 prizes to this dimension’s game.

Take us into another example; has there been a location-powered brand effort that’s recently served its consumers an AR experience via GoMeta?

One experience we recently worked with is a demo campaign we did with Edelman for Taco Bell at South by Southwest - the “Taco Crunch Challenge”.

Basically, the brand put a chihuahua in the recently opened Taco Bell Cantina in downtown Austin. Then we took five other points - nearby music venues - and we put taco ingredients in each of them.

We provide JavaScript sandboxes for each experience that allows for infinite customisation of the interactions.
Dmitry Shapiro

Users collected the ingredients to build a Double Stacked Taco. You went and you found all the ingredients and walked into the Taco Bell where the waiting on-screen chihuahua used them to make you a taco.

And the taco became a redeemable one-per-customer gift certificate - a voucher for a real taco at the Guadalupe Street store. This one took eight minutes to build for Sean, our main tech guy.

What are some next steps developers and marketers can take in terms of these kinds of engagements?

Let’s look at what you can do with dimensions. We can gate them, for example, requiring users to pay, or we can make a dimension only available during certain hours, or we can only open the dimension to people that subscribe to a brand’s newsletter.

You can easily key off anything. Non-technical folks can do sophisticated things with the platform, but mildly-technical folks with basic JavaScript knowledge can do even more.

We provide JavaScript sandboxes for each experience that allows for infinite customisation of the interactions.

Looking at these examples, there’s something powerful about access, and rewards, in both the location-powered gaming and marketing worlds, isn’t there?

From an entertainment stand-point there's the storytelling piece. There's then the augmentation of entertainment, the interactive element that lets you now take an experience along with you, allowing it to spawn around you.

Then there's obviously the element of, let's get people back into retail locations with entertainment. I think these factors demonstrate a few things. Take the Taco Bell demo: every time you do it - and it still happens to me - I want the taco.

Collecting those ingredients, coveting the reward, making an effort to get to the goal… these actions inject into the psyche that this is valuable and this is good. That's brand marketing, if you will.

We have also done a lot of experimentation with getting users to come into retail locations by giving them a digital voucher that can be redeemed at a store, or by creating a digital loyalty program. Both of these game mechanics work extremely well to influence user behaviour.

Thanks to AR, we’re at a new digital crossroads of technology and experience, activation and consumer loyalty.

In the next instalment of this series, we’ll look at additional examples of platforms that are making it easier for developers and marketing to reach consumers in the augmented-reality space. regularly posts content from a variety of guest writers across the games industry. These encompass a wide range of topics and people from different backgrounds and diversities, sharing their opinion on the hottest trending topics, undiscovered gems and what the future of the business holds.