Augmented reality in the as-a-service model has been launched in Australia by News Corp backed Melbourne start-up Plattar.
Dubbed ‘the world’s simplest AR creator’, a beta version of the the app builder and content management system has already been trialled by a number of customers including Australia Post, UNSW, Red Bull, PWC, Real Estate Australia (REA Group) and Swinburne University.
After receiving $1.1m pre-launch seed funding round in April last year – a proportion of which came courtesy of News Corp Australia’s first ever seed investment – Plattar went public late last month.
“Previously, users have found AR expensive to create, hard to manage and requiring a technical skillset. In addition, a big barrier to mass uptake of the technology has always been the need for hardware to be AR enabled,” said Plattar CEO and founder, Rupert Deans.
“With investment addressing this hardware compatibility and the launch of a platform such as Plattar, the impact AR is going to have on the day-to-day lives of millions upon millions of people is really difficult to describe; its applications are potentially limitless.”
One early-adopter, Sacha Alagich, founder of home d?cor retailer Escape to Paradise, said her business had achieved a 300 per cent return on investment through its Plattar-based self-branded app.
“I’ve always thought it would be amazing if customers could see how the product looked in their home before they purchase,” she told CIO Australia. “Of course I didn’t know how and I didn’t have connections or technology to make it happen.”
Plattar – made up of a 10 strong team based in Melbourne – approached Alagich about a year ago, and partnered to develop the ‘3D D?cor App’ over the course of a few months. The app allows customers to print out a marker page, then place a range of products – like cushions and bed throws – in situ in their homes. Users can then change the textile patterns through the app.
“All we did was just send [Plattar] images of our products and they created a 3D model from photos of our products and the dimensions. And then from there we just sent them the patterns that would be loaded onto the products. And it was as simple as that,” Alagich said.
Escape to Paradise gained a quick win with the app after sales teams used it as a tool to secure a major hotel deal.
“The hotels could actually see straight away how the cushions from our range go with their colour themes, making it much easier for them to plan the different products they will need to order for a refurbished project. It just really sets us apart from anyone else who’s giving a typical paper presentation. It gave it the wow factor, what we’re doing is so cool,” Alagich said.
REA Group – majority owned by News Corp – has been using the Plattar since last year to enable additional AR marketing materials that pop-up from newsprint ads.
Ahead of the curve
Augmented reality technology more generally has been used in a wide variety of use cases from The Royal Australian Air Force to manufacturing. The as-a-service business model, however, is relatively new to the field.
“One of the most exciting features of the Plattar launch is putting AR out to the market ahead of the curve,” said Deans. “Plattar makes AR easily accessible to SMEs, agencies and developers, which will eventually drive major growth in the field.”
The pricing model varies based on organisation size, number of users and number of apps. “DIY basic options start from under $2000 for setup including their own app and then price increases depending on your needs, number of users and amount of scenes etc. Monthly costs start from $99 per month” a spokesperson for the company said.
Augmented reality has seen enormous investment from the likes of Facebook, Google, Alibaba and Apple. The market is predicted to grow to $120bn by 2020.