Augmented reality (just like its cousin, virtual reality) is rapidly growing into a vibrant industry. The technology is moving past skeptics and hardcore gamers into a viable solution for audience engagement and data collection for businesses. UK startup Skignz has been creating waves since 2013, and they recently landed in Atlanta to put their AR signposts over our skyline. Their app, available on iOS and Android, uses geolocation (without geofences like Pokemon Go) to combine maps and search.
The user opens the app and lifts their phone up to the sky to see virtual AR signposts around them — think an augmented reality billboard. They can also drop a pin to, for example, find their car in a busy parking lot or a friend at a festival — adding a new layer to the social experience without being intrusive. A business can use the app to create info posts for users to find when approaching your business or add fun moments like ChooseATL did at SXSW 2017 by featuring zombies around their activation house.
“Skignz is an enabling technology, the brand behind the brand. A visual AR solution to making search useful, relevant and simple. That is an attractive proposition for not only a company wanting to take their location services (maps/lists) to the next level, but brands being able to create new enhanced customer experiences,” says Jamie Clarke, COO of Skignz.
Hype talked to Clarke about choosing ATL for their North American HQ, his predictions for AR’s market impact, and how Skingz can benefit your business.
What’s your funding situation?
We bootstrapped up until last month! We took a small amount of investment to enable exponential growth to occur over the next 3-6 months in both the technology and the business strategy of the company. We are looking to further enhance that growth with another round of investment toward the end of the year. U.S. investors are a key area we are exploring for this to happen.
Tell me more about Skignz and what it offers to businesses.
Skignz is a multi-award winning Augmented Reality (AR) platform created to provide the billions of mobile device users with Geo Location AR Technology. Keeping partners, stakeholders and users at the forefront of our decision making and development, Skignz offers a whole new way to interact with location driven data, visualizing key points and marked areas, allowing users to interact with images, animations, and information in a way not previously available.
Skignz provides an exciting and fresh way to interact with our partners’ customers, clients and business network by offering simplicity, expertise and cost effective visual digital solutions, available to be placed anywhere on the planet.
How’d you get the idea for it?
Skignz’ CEO Si Brown had the idea from a number of discussions around what the next technology trends were versus escalating problems in mobile as people moved from desktop/tablet and the relevance of hyperlocal search. Plus a rise to the thoughts and ability to remove the virtual world and place those digital assets in the real world was the biggest driver.
Skignz expanded from England to Atlanta. What attract it you to the city and how has been your experience raising capital and finding a space in the tech scene?
We met the guys from MAC at SXSW last year. We were originally looking to expand into the U.S. via NYC and San Francisco, but once we visited ATL, whoa! We made our minds up within an hour of touching down. The climate, the energy of the place, the people, and the fact that ATL is the up and coming tech city in the US, we couldn’t ask to be in a more vibrant place. We’ve found a space in the tech scene because what we do is unique, it’s different, and compliments so much of the other amazing work that’s being done across Atlanta.
Also, the ability to be able to serve not only North America and Canada, but also reach down into Latin America provides Skignz with an ideal location as well as the opportunity to roll out across all areas in a more cost-effective and timely way.
What’s the revenue model?
Our revenue model is very simple, yet effective. In order to create an ecosphere of content around the globe, we needed to have three options: Integration via API into existing Applications, enterprise Solution offering, and Skignz App use. This is all based on a partnership approach and licensing model
How has AR grown in the last year and how can businesses benefit from both Skignz and using AR?
The rise of Pokemon Go last year got people thinking about AR. How easy it can be to use and how they can use it in various sectors of business. Why look at your phone, when you can look through it? The AR sector is continuing to grow at an exponential rate, meaning that more and more sectors of businesss, from marketing companies, to infrastructure, are using AR to visualize data not previously available.
We are being asked to provide a visual solution to a problem that currently exists — the time it takes to search for something, the reading of a map, the engagement of customers or visitors — all are key areas of growth for AR and VR.
What’s the possible market impact of Skignz and its AR technology?
I don’t think anyone has any comprehension of the market impact because AR is in its infancy and with Skignz we have developed a platform that is market/industry agnostic. There are issues around millennials not being able to read maps, yet half of Google searches in 2016 returned location-based information on a map. Being able to visualize that data is immeasurable going forward.
The impact will be dependent on how useful the AR technology is, how widespread it can become and how it will be future-proofed beyond smartphones to Wearables, smart eyeware, smart glass/windscreens/windows. This is something that was strongly considered when developing skignz, and built into our business planning.