The Three Cs of Success for AR with Zappar’s Caspar Thykier

Your company has access to AR technology. Great! …now what? Have you thought about how to effectively implement that technology to solve a problem? Or are you just planning to develop a neat digital gizmo, release it to the world, and hope folks will use it? Zappar CEO Caspar Thykier joins Alan to discuss his personal Three Cs for Success in AR, and how to think critically when developing AR solutions.

Alan: Today’s guest is Caspar Thykier, CEO of Zappar. Caspar has an extensive background in advertising and marketing, and has been lucky enough to work with some of the most successful companies with the biggest blue chip brands, surrounded by the best people. Now he’s spending all of his time in the new world of spatial storytelling — or augmented reality, as some call it. He’s helped so many companies get to market, but the one that he’s working on now that is at the forefront of all this technology is Zappar. Zappar is an augmented reality platform, and a creative studio, all rolled into one, and they’ve been doing augmented reality since 2011. Zappar are really specialists in augmented, virtual, and mixed reality and they’ve been leading the way for over seven years. They work with some of the biggest brands in the world, to meet their marketing and commercial objectives by adding a layer of interactive digital content to their products, packaging, point-of-sale places, and physical marketing collateral. Basically, they turn all passive print into always-on media channels that brand owners can control, which is pretty incredible and amazing stuff. You can learn more about Zappar by visiting them at Zappar.com. “Zed”-A-P-P-A-R dot com. Or, if you’re American, “Zee”-A-P-P-A-R dot com. 

I want to welcome Caspar to the show. Welcome to the show, Caspar!

Caspar: Thank you so much, and thanks for that introduction. Especially making a difference between the US and the UK pronunciation of “Zee” and “Zed”.

Alan: Well, I’m Canadian, so we share the “Zed.”

Caspar: There you go.

Alan: Well, thank you so much for joining me, I’ve been really excited about this podcast interview. You are literally a pioneer — not only a pioneer but a leading pioneer —  in this industry. Zappar, you guys have done work with Wal-Mart, you’ve done work with 7-Eleven, with tons of alcohol brands, with packaging brands, with consumer packaged goods. Let’s just list off a few of the ones — the highlights — that you guys have done recently, and then we’ll dig into what this technology does for a brand, how they can use it, and how they can get really involved.

Caspar: Absolutely. Yeah, that’ll be great. Maybe to preface that, I think how we’ve come to be working with such a diverse range of clients and partners really stems back to where we started. 

As you said, it seems a long time ago now, back in 2011, because we were a company that was self-funded then. When you think back then, you had to explain pretty hard to people what AR was, and we had to make sure that any of the projects we worked on were clearly revenue-driving, revenue-generating for the business. So at that time, we looked pretty horizontal and shallow across lots of different industries. I guess we looked into other black folks of contacts to see where we could fish first. That meant that we ended up exploring the opportunities for AR across entertainment – we did a lot of work with the Hollywood studios at that time, with Warner Brothers and others, both for theatrical marketing and consumer products — but then into retail. Working with retailers across the world, be it here in the UK with Asda, Wal-Mart in the states and 7-Eleven, or Woolworth’s in Australia, et cetera. 

Then into connected packaging, and that’s something that we certainly see coming to have to do more of in the future. But with brands like Nestlé or Unilever, etc. Learning, training, and development became another area of real interest for us. The amazing power of augmented reality to help people with active learning through doing, we saw that to great effect in the financial services industries, and indeed, healthcare as well. Then into work, we’ve done in education as well, and into conferences and events. And you’re right, that we really have gone across an awfully broad spectrum of different services and clients. And I think that’s because of where we came from.

Alan: “We weren’t just some VC-funded company that raised hundreds of millions of dollars and then built an entire tech stack that went sideways.” But we’ll leave it at that. 

I think one of the things that you guys have always done is looked at profitable ways to use this technology — and not just profitable for yourselves, but for the businesses that you consult with and make things for — and I think that is a really big difference. A lot of startups today are getting funding based on the demo, and they’re not really thinking about, “how do we actually make money with this?” And so there’s this kind of weird venture capital-backed scheme going on where it’s really not in the best interests of the business user as well because they’re trying to get users or whatever, but they’re not really trying to bring real business value. I think that’s what you do best.

Caspar: Well, again, thank you. I think that’s because we’ve always had this mentality of trying to live within what AR is capable of now, rather than what it’s capable of in the future. And I think the thing is that, again, even back in 2011-12, there were some amazing things that we could do with AR. In fact, there is still some of those demos that we show now, from back then, that still wow people. It’s living in that mindset that still, for the majority of people out there, they haven’t really experienced AR. Beyond, I guess now, I’d say Snapchat, etc. And it’s the small experiences that still surprise and delight, or can be used to inform and instruct. 

I think that process of living within what the technology can do, and really thinking about the moments of assistance for AR, is the important thing, rather than, “what is the future thing that it will be able to do tomorrow?” And the more that you–

Alan: That is a really, really good piece of advice. We all get caught up — especially the people in the industry — we get caught up in trying to push the limits of the technology. We actually build a platform for people to make AR quickly, and the thing that they did the most, which was shocking to us: They didn’t import 3D models. They didn’t import 3D buttons. They didn’t import anything. They literally just put videos overtop of their images. 

Caspar: Yeah, that’s it 

Alan: It was amazing. I mean, 99 percent of it was just videos on top, and that was mind-blowing for most people.

Caspar: Yeah, that’s it. That’s it. It’s understanding where people are in that expectation curve of those things. 

We have this really simple mantra that we talk about a lot, which is called the “Three Cs for Success,” but for AR. And funny enough, none of those Cs are really about the technology. They stand for: understanding the Context; the Call to action, and, of course, the Content. And actually, that context is really thinking deeply about that moment of assistance. That end user, what are they doing at that point in time, when you’re asking them to take out their phone and point it at whatever objects that they’re about to augment? And in fact, what’s happening at that time? What’s going on with the lighting and the audio? Do they have Wi-Fi network connectivity? Are they likely to have the right amount of time to really want to engage with this piece of content? And those things become incredibly important because they actually frame that moment of assistance — how people are going to interact with this piece.

Alan: I want to put a pin in there just for one second, because I think what you’re talking about, putting it into context:, if you’re going to do an AR thing in a newspaper or whatever, a printed piece, where people may have their phones in their pockets or they’re walking somewhere, I think you really hit it there. Because a lot of brands don’t think about that. That is the one thing that they’re like, “we’re gonna make a poster [in] AR,” and they don’t realize people are not going to pull their phone out to point it out a poster if they don’t even know it’s there.

Caspar: No, you’re absolutely right. I think that’s because it’s very easy to have the idea of AR come into a business, and someone be told to go and do this discovery piece to find out what it’s for. And I guess if you staff that perspective, you’re almost seeing AR as a strategy in and of itself, as opposed to a facilitating technology to solve a particular problem. That context basis is absolutely critical to get right from the very start. 

But then there’s the call to action, as well. It’s incredible how important that is. Unless you tell people really clearly what it is they’re meant to do, and what the value proposition is that they get at the end of this experience, they’re not very likely to do it, frankly. Again, when we first started out, this notion that you can scan anything, anywhere in the world with your device, and have things come to life, itself is a wonderful prospect. But unless you’re at the point where everything does that — does it accurately — then how do you know what things to augment and what things you shouldn’t? You have to use some real estate in order to prepare people for that action, and make sure that they do it right.

Alan: It’s interesting that you say that because… do you know the 19 Crimes wine bottle?

Caspar: Yes.

Alan: It’s this famous wine bottle, where you can download an app and point it at the thing… but the app, nowhere in the app does it say “19 Crimes,” first of all. You can’t google “19 crimes app.” Second of all, on the bottle, it doesn’t say anything anywhere, either. So there’s no call to action. Unless you are specifically looking for it, you’ll never find it. That’s a very good point.

Caspar: Yeah, it’s fascinating. That’s a case study that comes up a lot. And you know what? They’ve obviously had great success with it, and the numbers speak for itself. It’s a beautiful execution. I guess what I do take my hat off to them is, making sure that AR was in the thought process of the design of that entire product experience from the very start, and I think that really shows.

There are other nuances that, I think, are interesting to look at. As I understand it, the size of that app download is in the hundreds of megabytes, which is actually quite a chunk of data to ask people [to download], and then the load times are quite long. This is the thing with AR, is that there are many things to think about when designing it. And you need to think really deeply about not just these three Cs we’re talking about, but the entire AR ecosystem, and how you’re deploying it, and distributing it, and getting people to use it. We definitely see that call to action as – fundamentally — that important thing to get right. It’s not enough to just say, “scan here.” You do need to tell people what that value proposition is. What is the point for them? What is the value exchange?

Alan: So let me ask you a quick question. Typically, you guys have done everything from training and consumer packaged goods. You’ve done poster, you’ve done in-store activations. What is that value proposition, that really tends to resonate with consumers? Is it a free thing? Is it gamification? Is it taking a photo? What is the one — or two — things that really resonate with consumers?

Caspar: It’s hard to give you a single answer for that, because it’s totally dependent on the context; the audience, the sector, the engagement. But you’re right in that… I don’t know, let’s take something like 7-Eleven, for instance, is a good example. There’s a brand, actually, who has been incredibly innovative in their sector, and has embraced AR as this always-on camera function within the 7Rewards app and very much seen as a way to not only surprise and delight users, but also, to give them tangible value through valuable 7Rewards points that they can earn. So not only do they get these digital experiences that they can enjoy and share, but they also have the opportunity to redeem rewards points that they can then use on their next shot. So there’s a very interesting dual benefit there, with both a digital and physical value add, if you like. 

I think that understanding what the offer is, if you like, really does depend on what the execution is, and what you’re trying to achieve. I tend to find that the photo share element to something, that is sort of a ubiquitous feature, as opposed to an endpoint in itself because it’s just become something that is so prevalent and almost expected. That is just one aspect of it that’s there if people want to do it.

Alan: Unless you’re turning the Flatiron Building into pizza and throwing up rainbows. I mean, that’s just pretty cool. [both laugh] The stuff that Snapchat is doing is really incredible.

Caspar: Oh, yeah, yeah. You know, I think their tools are fantastic. And again, a great focus there on how that can work within a specific social network environment. The social play. They’re doing a great job.

Alan: So you mentioned three Cs; We spoke about context. What is the user doing at the time of activation? What are their mindsets? Do they have their phone with them? That sort of thing. Call to Action; what is the value proposition? How do you tell them about it? How do you educate them? What is the third C?

Caspar: Well, that content. The content piece is really just making sure that whatever you’re developing couldn’t have been easier for someone to get, had they literally just gone onto YouTube or something they could have got more easily going through a normal app interface or onto a website. Because if that’s the case, that is obviously something that people are very familiar with. And so to ask them to go through the process of either downloading an app or opening an app to get this experience, it needs to be something that warrants that level of input and attention. So I think that’s just about, then, thinking about, how do we use spatial computing, and how do we design the UX and UI in order to deliver this short-form, “snackable,” bite-size experience that people want to enjoy, and may want to share — and certainly, provide some sort of information, utility, or reward? One of the things we’ve done as a business is try to design the tools, in order to make sure those content experiences can be as expressive as possible. 

We have this platform called ZapWorks that allows people to do that. The way we’ve designed it is to make sure that it can cater for all the different types of context, and all the different types of content, that any brand, or business, or indeed, individual hobbyist might want to use.

Alan: So, let’s unpack your tools, ZapWorks, because I think this is something that… you guys are a content studio. You consult with brands, you figure out what they want, and you design and build it for them. But ZapWorks is a little bit different, in the fact that you’re giving the power to design these incredible experiences to the agency, or to the marketing people, or designers, or developers. You’ve created a platform for them to make the magic themselves.

Caspar: Yeah, that’s correct. Very early on, our driving mantra and passion as a business has always been about, how do you democratize AR? We all know that it’s been around for decades, but the inflection point was when it was available on these hand-held devices, so we could create that connection between the physical world and digital devices. And we always knew that there was only so much of that content that we could — or wanted to — deliver as a studio, and as a business ourselves. Much more exciting was to be able to put those tools in the hands of everyone, and understand what they might come up with and what that AR experienced might look like within their sector, in their area of expertise, and in their business. 

It’s always been important for us that we ensure that the exact tools that we use here as a studio are available to everyone else. Now, I guess we have a nice first step proving-ground of those tools, to make sure they’re solid before we put them out onto ZapWorks. But yes, they’re there for everyone to use. We tried to make it so that it can cater for people of all sorts of abilities. We have this very simple notion — very, very basic level that we call widgets — where you can literally just drag and drop your media files, whether that’s video, or photos, or links, or whatever it might be. That’s actually arranged within the system, and you can publish and preview that instantly. 

There’s a second level, which is called Designer, which, I guess, is sort of similar to PowerPoint, in that you can have a bit more flexibility around controlling the design of the target image that you’re looking at, as we would describe it. You could arrange the content around that, almost create slides, in order to move between them. 

The, at the most powerful end, we have ZapWorks Studio. ZapWorks Studio allows any designers and developers with experience to create some truly incredible AR experiences. It brings into being things like timelines, importing 3D models, and having actions for those. At this point, you’re making many activities and interactions. It really is a very broad range of capabilities. They’re designed for the fact that, within education, sometimes we go into schools and we do work with kids as young as eight, nine or 10, showing them and getting them interested in both computing and spatial computing at that stage, all the way through to these really gifted designers and developers who want to make these complex and deep and interactive experiences, but making sure that all of these things can be downloaded over the air, that they are small package sizes, in order that they can work on the majority of devices, wherever that might be in the world.

Alan: I think we were reaching a tipping point. You mentioned that the packages of data are being set pretty small, but also, the phones are becoming more powerful, and even older phones are starting to be AR-enabled. I read a stat that, by the end of this year, they’ll be close to 2-billion AR-enabled smartphones in the world. And in two years or something, like, 3.5-billion smartphones that will have AR capabilities. As this market literally expands exponentially, how do you see the market for AR across the board? Where do you see the biggest upticks in this? Is is going to be consumer packaged goods? Is is going to be education? Where do you see the biggest…?

Caspar: Well, I think there’s a couple of things happening. There’s always been a pretty enormous install base, to be honest, even over this last period in terms of the devices available on the market. It comes back to that thing that there’s an awful lot you can do with AR now that doesn’t require the absolute top-spec devices. Great that they’re adding these capabilities, and the camera quality is improving, and uses of CPU, GPU,  battery life, and network, and all these things are all great. But I don’t think we’re coming out of a period of darkness, if you like. I think more important we find is, there are a lot of campaigns that we have to deploy in many, many markets around the world. And really, what you need to be more aware of is just data plans that your audience are going to be using, and Wi-Fi connectivity. Making sure that whatever you’re doing isn’t data hungry and can be downloaded pretty quickly. A lot of the thinking and planning is more around that area. 

Having said that, I think one of the really big inflection points that are going to open up the market is the advent of mobile WebAR. There’s obviously a lot of talk about that at the moment. I think that is absolutely fascinating, and something that we’ll be making some announcements around very soon, actually. And that–

Alan: Is that a “hint-hint, nudge-nudge?”

Caspar: [laughs] Yes, it probably was.

Alan: “Zappar acquires 8i! Dominates market in WebAR.” I don’t know — take that with a grain of salt. But this is exciting. You guys are going to be working in WebAR.

Caspar: Yeah.

Alan: We’ve presented AR to hundreds of clients, and I would say out of all of them, about 60 percent of them say, “do we still need an app?”

Caspar: Correct. Correct. And look, I don’t think it’s the death knell of apps. There are clearly some that where AR very mature in a native app infrastructure, and it works incredibly well. And there are certain brands and businesses who can command having that real estate on someone’s phone. There are many that can’t. I think when you get into the area of specific connected packaging — which I think is an absolutely enormous market — I guess the way that we tend to think about that is thinking of the trillions of products that are both on shelves and in people’s homes and the fact that they are all, at the moment, passive. 

What you can do with augmented reality is turn that passive print into this always-on media channel that, as a brand owner, you begin to control. And indeed, you can have a one-to-one conversation and relationship with your end user at a point where it’s quite a black spot, in terms of data collection, from the point of purchase all the way through to the point of consumption and beyond. That is absolutely fascinating if you think of that holy trinity of owned and paid media. Now your own media channel, this passive print, can not only deliver both reach, but engagement; an incredible resource of data. WebAR enables that because, for a lot of household brands, people won’t necessarily want to have their app. But actually — and we’ve seen it through research that we’ve conducted, and with partners as well — people want to know more about products. We now live in a time when understanding a product’s provenance, and its authenticity, and actually knowing more about it, how-to pieces, instruction information — all these things are stuff that we expect. That’s something where we can really bring that to life, through AR, and WebAR will play a big part in that, I believe.

Alan: How do we, then… because you mentioned something earlier about the fact that only a small amount of things right now are AR-enabled. You guys have created what’s called the Zapcode; it’s like a QR code specifically for Zappar. What do you think about potentially creating a universal standard for the AR logo? So then, you can have a QR code-type thing that, anytime you see that QR code, you realize that something is AR-enabled. Whether it’s web or app, it doesn’t matter; open your camera, point it at it, and it automatically will take you to the website, or the app download, or whatever it is you need to enable that. What are your thoughts on that?

Caspar: Might be worth going back to why we came up with a Zapcode in the first place. In 2011 when we did it, I think everyone thought was such a backward step. “No! It’s all about image look-up! Why would I possibly want to put a code on this thing? What are you doing?” There’s some very–

Alan: All they have to do is go to China to answer that. Go to China for a week and try to not use a QR code.

Caspar: Well, this is it. Image look-up is great, but it’s more computationally expensive. You do have an issue if you want to look at something that ostensibly looks the same, which you come across a lot if you’re in the licensing world. 

Alan: If you’re a marketer, you’ve got 10 advertisements, they all look the same and have some different copy on them. 

Caspar: This is it. So, Zapcode was something that came out of Simon’s — our research director and co-founder — work about being able to do incredibly fast detection when you have things that are small in the camera image. Zapcodes really solved an awful lot of problems and meant that we could make custom codes around people’s brand identity. We did some work with Shazam around that, and when we supported all their visual recognition in the Shazam app. [We did some] work for Hasbro, and others around that. It really serves a purpose. 

But we’re pretty agnostic nowadays, about what it is that we’re going to scan. You mentioned this, the QR codes. They’re having their Joe Frazier moment, aren’t they? We’re happy to lean into all those things. Going back when we started, it was always this thought of, “which is the AR app that’s going to rule them all. And analysts and journalists would always ask you, “what’s the killer application?” I’m not sure that’s really asking the right question. AR is this facilitating technology. It’s a camera function. What we really need to start asking ourselves, as brands and businesses, is “what are the stories that we’re telling as brand owners, when seen through the camera? And how can AR enhance that?” 

Alan: So, what is the value to the end user, whether it’s entertainment or delight or functionality? What is the end user’s journey, and why? Why would they do this? I see so many things. I get emails from different startups all over the world creating AR. Great, but why would anybody pull a phone out to do this? What is the actual point of it? That’s what it comes down to your three Cs again — context, call to action, content. Without those three checkboxes, you just have something cool.

Caspar: Yeah, that’s that’s exactly right. But I don’t think it matters what people are pointing their phone at, at that point. I guess we’re not anti-QR codes, if that’s something that people are familiar with. I think the problem we’ve got with them — more in the west — is that the experience up till now has been pretty lousy. So how do we re-engage people with that behavior? I guess we were very flattered that, having done Zapcodes, you know, it wasn’t long before we then saw SNAP codes and Amazon codes and Spotify codes. At that point you go, it’s nice to see that we were in the right direction.

Alan: You and I will talk offline about this, but I have a plan on how we can standardize this, because I think there’s definitely confusion in the marketplace. If I have to open Zappar to point it at  Zapcode, that may be confusing. But if it’s just, I open my camera, and it automatically recognizes universal code? You and I will talk about it. We’ll figure out how to get The Cronos Group to make it standard.

Caspar: Well, that would be a good thing. Because you can now connectively, I guess, access and scan QR codes on iOS devices, and more so with Samsung through Bixby and Glens, et cetera. I think that’s the current de facto standard. But happy to have that conversation offline.

Alan: I’m going to move to something that I know is kind of a question that business consumers and business customers ask me all the time: what are the types of data that we can glean from these activities? You mentioned basically bringing print to life, and you’re filling in this black hole of data that, when you print something, you send it out there — you don’t know. Are people reading it? Are they’re looking at it? Are they going on the web? You have no idea, unless you put a coupon code and then, okay, well, we had 17 visitors from this or whatever. But with AR, you know where they are, how long they dwell. What are some of the data points that you’re able to collect and give to brands, and how are they using those data points?

Caspar: Well, I guess, as you know, we have to do this all under the auspices of the GDPL, which is now in full effect over here in Europe, and I’m sure we’ll be coming to many more markets soon. We do have to ensure, from a Zappar perspective, that any of the data we collect is not personally identifiable. That still means that we can see quite a lot of stuff from the anonymized data. 

We can obviously see a number of unique scans. What time of day, what region, what events occurred. So, if someone scanned our experience, did they play the mini-game? Do they take a photo? Did they receive the coupon? All those sorts of things. We can understand what we’ve done, and we can see their average dwell time. So we’ve got quite a lot of analysis that means that we can understand how a campaign is performing. Now, clearly, if that is then also integrated into a third party app, and they have got those permissions from end users? Well, then all of that can be tied to individuals as well. And then you can get very rich and personal data. But clearly, that has to happen in an infrastructure where someone has opted in. And I think those things are fascinating on both sides. Where we’re doing work with retailers, and they might have their own reward schemes, being able to understand that at an individual level is incredibly powerful. 

But even where we’ve done it for, say, some some other FMCG brands, we’ve had some fascinating times where we can pinpoint at what time of day, what day parts, and indeed, what hours people have scanned over the course of a week, and some fascinating patterns occurred. That information has also been taken to then inform the rest of the media strategy. If people can understand when it’s actually most likely that people will be using their product, well, that’s really interesting information. 

It’s all data, right? It’s what you do with it, that’s the most important thing. So making sure that, once you’ve got it, you’ve got the right analysts, and you’ve been asking the right questions. Indeed, before you even starts the activity, you’ve set your objectives clearly.

Alan: That was going to be one of my next questions. Let’s say a brand comes to you and say, “hey, we want to do AR.” That’s great that you want to do AR; what are you going to measure success on? What are some of the measurements of success that you guys promote, or talk to brands about? What are they looking for? Are they looking for, “we just need a number of clicks?” There’s also earned media. There’s tons of different ways to measure this. What are the typical ones?

Caspar: Well, first thing I’d say is if anyone comes to you and says, “we want to do AR,” that should ring an alarm bell to begin with. That means they not really thinking about what their objectives are. They’re just trying to think of AR as this thing that exists in this vacuum. 

Alan: So what do what you do in that case? Do you educatie people?

Caspar: Yeah, we do, because it’s so important — both for us as a business, but I think more broadly, for everyone — to realize that AR is not like the dog you get for Christmas. It is something that you’ve got to think about for life, because the true value of AR is about this always-on channel, as opposed to this just one-off, “tick the innovation box for your marketing campaign” piece. In fact, you won’t get the value out of doing it that way. The way you can extract the value is understanding how to best deploy it throughout the business, and use it on an ongoing basis. 

There are a number of different ways and objectives that, I guess, we’re asked to achieve, depending on the sector and the project. That could be anything, from people who do have their own app and they’re trying to increase the number of people who’ve installed it and increase the dwell time and the reason for being in the app, in order to explore other features within it. That’s a perfectly legitimate use of AR, as sort of a gateway, if you like, to bring people into an app and to discover other services within it. Clearly, it can also be used, if there are people trying to, in a retail setting, bring people into a store environment. It does some great work with a company called Tilly’s in the States. They’ve been fantastic as well, we’ve worked with them for a few years. And true pioneers as well, in terms of properly integrating into their app, trying to make this connection between the bricks and mortar retail and their digital strategy, giving value add coupons as rewards within the AR experiences, making sure that their internal staff are well informed about it. We also know it’s a great tool for people on the shop floor to excite people about and start up a conversation. But there again, you know, that is about–

Alan: Hold on, hold on. Let’s just stop there for one second. As you know, this is something that I don’t think many brands have considered; everybody is thinking about, “how do we get this app in the consumer’s hands?” But more importantly, how do I enable our retail salespeople to have something engaging to show a consumer? 

Caspar: You’re so right, yeah.

Alan: That is a beautiful use case. And not only could it be used to train the sales reps, but then they can use it to train the customers.

Caspar: Exactly right. It conforms to that wonderful fear of missing out that we all have. I always liken it to, if you’re sitting on the subway, reading the paper (or, back in the day when that used to happen [laughs]), people couldn’t help themselves but look over at your paper and read it. And it’s the same if someone’s on the phone; one eye is slightly looking at the screen. People innately are interested in what others are doing. 

So, if you’re in a shop floor — and we’ve done this at a lot of shows: you hold your device, scan whatever the thing is you’re scanning — people are like a moth to a flame, they’ll come over.

Alan: People love it!

Caspar: Yeah. And it strikes up a conversation, and then suddenly you’re into a different type of sales framework. I think that’s an incredibly powerful use of technology. Think about workforces, where not everyone has access to the computer. Let’s face it; for hospitality or food service, most of the staff will have access to a phone, but they might not have a terminal they can get to. How do you get to that disconnected workforce and tell them about new offers, or new promotions, or new things they can sell? Actually, AR is a very interactive and engaging way for them to do that.

Alan: It’s interesting you say that; we just invested in a company called 3D Food and Drink, and they do super-high-resolution photogrammetry scans of meals, and then they do wine and beer and alcohol pairings with those foods. It’s a great way for the restaurants, the servers, to show the meal in a completely different way. And it’s increasing sales dramatically, by 40-50 percent, because that expensive meal item is now at the forefront in AR. And then the wine upgrade, or the beer upgrade, is increasing the sales as well. So it’s interesting you said that.

Caspar: It’s great to see that. And I think there is now… well, another thing maybe for offline that we need to get to, is a point where all these incredible case studies are all being put together. Because they all exist, and the stats do not lie, and they do speak for themselves. And the incremental value that is being generated by the use of AR for these different experiences is evident. Now, clearly, not everything works brilliantly, and you learn as many things from your failures as your successes. But it is extraordinary that, time and again, we’re seeing that, in terms of the level of engagement, the level of click through, the level of increase in sales volume and footfall, it does have this facilitating effect on different experiences.

Alan: You mentioned stats. What are some of the stats that you can share publicly? I know that there’s probably a lot that you can’t share, but what are some of the statistics around successful campaigns? What constitutes a successful campaign?

Caspar: Well, you’re right. There’s quite a lot that is governed by NDAs that we can’t talk about [laughs]. So that is a harder one to get into. To be honest.

Alan: Because we’re talking about case studies, and we want to be able to write these case studies and scream from the rooftops how great it is. And then we’re all under NDAs, we can’t share it. So it’s like–

Caspar: Yeah, it’s a bit of a Gordian knot, that that is. That is a fair point. I’m sure the right permissions could be sought, in order to get all those things together.

Alan: Are you guys members of the VR/AR Association?

Caspar: We are now. Yes.

Alan: The VR Association is a global organization that has chapters in pretty much every city in the world, and they’ve been really pioneering pulling together these case studies, these white papers. I wrote the enterprise white paper about six months ago. There’s a marketing and retail one. So there is some work being done around collecting all these – and it’ll be interesting, we’ll talk offline — you’re absolutely right, the rising tide raises all boats. And in this case, we’re in an industry that, over the next five or six years, is going to create a trillion dollars in value in the marketplace. So we need to just scream it from the rooftops.

Caspar: Absolutely. I’d definitely love to pick up on that.

Alan: Well, I want to thank you so much for your time. Where we’re coming to the end here, is there anything else? The last thing I wanted to ask you, is there anything else you wanted to mention?

Caspar: Oh, gosh. We have covered a lot of stuff. I think the only thing I’d say is that, this is a space that will continue to evolve. But I’ll just reiterate that point of, I don’t think we should get too caught up in the future. I think we do need to celebrate the now. And augmented reality is a “now” technology. It’s not just a future technology. I think most of the applications that are readily available to pursue now have not been explored to their fullest extent by large swathes of businesses in many, many categories. I would say it’s people really try and embrace what’s there now. Get ready for what’s coming in the future. But take advantage of what you can do today.

Looking for more insights on XR and the future of business? Subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, or Spotify. You can also follow us on Twitter @XRforBusiness and connect with Alan on LinkedIn.

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