AR takes hold


In this day and age when plain old reality is no longer enough for consumers, South African advertisers are beginning to venture into the realm of augmented reality (AR) campaigns.

“AR has not been seen much in South Africa to date as the challenge is the number of devices that are capable of viewing the content,’ says Brett Levy, MD of Rapid Blue Digital. “We have, however, done the most activations of anyone playing in this space, not only here but in Africa too.’

According to Levy, the premise behind AR is to help appease the continual appetite for content without having to do more.

He continues: “All consumers have to do is hold up a smart device and an entire world opens up to them. We have also used AR for training, verification and are even looking at banking applications too. So AR is definitely not only a marketing tool.’

Rapid Blue Digital was recently asked by Mediacom, Telkom’s media agency to come up with a concept that would allow customers to learn about Convergence, known as FMC (Fixed Mobile Convergence). This is when you get your voice, data and mobile connectivity from one supplier.

screen africa magazine – march 2013
The Rapid Blue Digital AR campaign picks up where the Telkom television commercial (TVC) ends. In the commercial the actor talks about Convergence and floating around him or her are spheres, each one representing an element of convergence namely Voice, Data, Mobile, Fixed Line and Cloud. The commercial ends with the spheres all coming together to show the Telkom Convergence logo.

“This campaign was a perfect opportunity for AR as the amount of information that can be added in virtual layers is endless. So, it was with this in mind that we conceptualised the experience. Another important aspect was that Telkom would be offering a first for South Africa with the introduction of Convergence, so we thought it would only be fitting to do a first too,’ explains Levy.

He describes the AR campaign as a continuation of the TVC that helps continue the journey from television to virtual reality.

The TVC plays in a loop on a large screen supplied by Pixel Displays. When a customer stands in front of the white wall – he or she covers the convergence logo that is printed on the wall. The camera is trained on this logo. Once it can’t see the logo anymore the experience starts. The TVC stops and the customer now sees him or herself in the screen with the convergence logo floating in front of him or her. He or she raises his or her arms (prompted by the arrows on the screen) and the logo splits up into the spheres again floating around him or her. He or she then touches them and they open a text bubble explaining what that specific element is, for example, Voice.

At the end of the touching, the screen clears and from all sides the elements or spheres start floating towards the customer in the form of a game and he or she needs to bump them away. They get faster and faster until eventually the customer loses and the logo regroups in front of him or her. The message is that you can’t escape convergence.

“AR is best experienced in full high definition (HD) so we used a 1080 HD web interface camera. Because you want to merge real objects or people into an experience they need to appear as if part of the experience, so it has to be true-to-life and this is only achieved through full HD,’ comments Levy.

Technology used by Rapid Blue Digital in the Telkom Convergence AR campaign was a combination of three different software programmes and “some secret magic sauce’.

The first activation of the AR campaign took place at Tygervalley Mall in the Western Cape, followed by Durban’s Gateway Shopping Mall, moving to Johannesburg’s Sandton City in mid-February.


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