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Pastguide - guide app to run and witness full 3d reenactments of the past events in the heritage place on your mobile device

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Pastguide (Pastguide - guide app to run and witness full 3d reenactments of the past events in the heritage place on your mobile device)

Reporting period: 2014-11-01 to 2015-04-30

Wave is coming

We have recently observed the proliferation of new hardware in the AR/VR industry. With Facebook having recently invested $2B in Oculus Rift and Google who put $542M in Magic Leap we certainly see where the business seems to be pivoting right now to focus on experiences that are reaching far beyond desktop and mobile interfaces. Advanced Virtual Reality with highly realistic graphics and Augmented Reality based on easy to mount wearable interfaces is going to revolutionize many business sectors in years to come. Techcrunch estimates that in the 2020 AR/VR industry will be worth $150B. Paul Graham, head of the Y Combinator Accelerator from Silicon Valley has included AR/VR in his preferred startup categories and indicates that the wave is certainly coming.

Challenges of the Augmented and Virtual Reality Sector

It seems that the biggest problem in this industry is still the willingness to use this technology by the ordinary people. We see that businesses happily invest in AR for some time now. Advertising is the key here as big companies like IKEA or BMW deploy their AR apps to make their purchasing or post-purchasing experience more useful and effective. Both AR and VR has seen it’s false starts in the nineties and early 2000’s mostly due to problematic setup and not satisfying results when the gear was finally initialized. Now both with easy to use hardware and AAA graphics already available for mobile interfaces the time is finally come to try out something serious in this space. Pastguide was born from the motivation to deliver memorable and easy-to-access experience built on the belief that the hardware and software has finally reached the required maturity status. The confidence we had is backed by data from the first sites who attempted this path and achieved great results. Augmented reality in the form of static guide apps is present for some time and when introduced properly can double or triple the footfall to target destinations.

Heritage context

European heritage is one of the richest reservoirs of cultural content on the planet. Year by year we observe the largest wave of tourists flocking through the gates of most popular heritage sites. Unesco steadily reports that nearly 40% of the global tourism depends on heritage sector. It is also a welcoming ground for new technologies and actually one of the earliest attempts to use augmented reality in meaningful way was taken in the archeological sites in southern Europe in early 2000’s .The choice to build our software platform in this space seemed natural to us.

Our main objective is to deploy a software platform that will make it easy to upload own content and then deploy it to a multitude of AR/VR devices that are currently emerging on the market. Right now we target mobile devices and VR googles but we also have ambitions to reach next-gen interfaces.
With the platform ready we will be able to complete set of industry-specific objectives such as providing a tool for heritage sector to augment tourist visits in interesting historic locations. Building and AEC industries will have a tool to properly visualize the future look and construction nuances of buildings still in construction. Advertising and media industry can benefit by deploying event and location based games and visuals. All in all we aim to have a platform that will target b2b industry as well as more institutionally driven heritage sector.
We have completed all designed objectives and gained following results:

Test-drive of the app prototype with the b2b client - heritage site in our case - surfaced many challenges that we have learned a lot about so far. Attendance to multitude of events, meetings, pitches and conferences added a lot of sensitive data on how we should shape our marketing message, benefits for the partners, how the team should be organised and the technology timeplanned.
We have pivoted our idea from a single industry app to a multiindustrial and multiplatform solution and thanks to participation in SME programme we have been able to raise our reputation and expertise and then share it with the market and meda.
Coaching session helped us materialize the pivoted idea and prepare for 2nd stage investment pitching as well as gaining ground in the London startup scene and registering a sales office in UK required for crucial business contacts,
We have evaluated our technology, validated additional technology track and made our business idea much more precise with a clearly defined business model and market entry strategy
Our prototype was validated with users online and onsite as well as modified a lot with the feedback from investors and dealmakers in mind. Thanks to this we have got new leads.
Pastguide is not a toy and while it looks a bit like a game it should be really seen as the educative tool that helps to bring valuable interpretations to places that so far had great stories but they weren’t entirely sure how to “sell” it and create memorable, cognitive experience. While it helps heritage sites differentiate with new technologies it is also instrumental to tell site’s stories and educate the visitors. We expect the final platform to have even more reach and impact on education through wide usage in classrooms, on class tours and on-site. Cultural institutions and cities can finally tell their stories without the risk that they use a technology that is niche or alienates people. Imagine having interactive walk in Pompeii before the Volcano blew up or having a walk in London with Sherlock Holmes. Content doesn’t have to be necessarily historic - any educative, cultural content e.g. expressed in literature can find it’s place on our platform.

Looking at the wider usage of our platform in other industries we see a number of potential ripples this technology might create. In Construction industry people often point to a fact that buildings are often not visualized properly and it’s hard to imagine how the specific builiding will look until it’s finished. We are hoping to solve it by giving a tool to easily visualize building on multitude of platforms such as Android, iOS, Google VR or Hololens.

Research we have concluded during feasibility study given us extraordinary data on how promising results the AR/VR technologies are capable of creating. For example examples we have from Croatia and Spain showed that AR has great response even amongst the groups that are traditionally mute when it comes to mobile apps usage such as seniors (60+). The augmented reality guide introduced in Sibenik was compared by the local population to the introduction of electricity in the town.

Pastguide in it’s feasibility study stage has received a very warm reactions and feedback from the media and as such we hope it can be one of those meaningful tools that leave something behind in the heads of users and helps content creators and owners get the message that leaves real mark and not just another mobile app in the myriad of others in the app store. This is our ambition.