Augmented Reality and the Second Screen with Augo

When people think about Atlanta companies, names like Coca-Cola, CNN, Turner, The Home Depot, and Delta are usually the first ones to come to mind. Often overlooked is the Atlanta technology startup scene, which is one of the fastest growing and most exciting in the country. A couple years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting 4th Wall Technologies, an augmented reality startup, at the annual Startup Riot event here in Atlanta. At the time, they were experimenting with a small business signage based exploration AR app called Treasure Hunt. Fast forward a couple years and the company has evolved their AR capabilities to expand into a new medium: television.

image: AugoTV.com

Augo is their newest project and expected to launch publicly in the near future. It is a second screen app to render interactive games and experiences for television viewers. Unlike most second screen executions which work off audio content recognition (ACR), Augo uses visual triggers to sync with the television – similar to AR triggers from visual static imagery on signage and print mediums. Recently, I had a chat with Anil Rohatgi, co-founder & CTO of 4th Wall Technologies, to discuss their new app:

CE: What are the advantages with an image based recognition system and augmented reality over the more common audio recognition for syncing mobile apps to video programming? 
 
AR: Using the camera allows us to not only recognize the commercial, but gives us the capability to integrate the augmented reality components directly into the ad experience. This gives Augo the advantage of creating a single and continuous user experience. With other technologies like Shazam, the content on both of the screens is disjointed. The user’s attention is being drawn away from one screen to look at the other. With Augo, the content on both screens are integrated together, so the overall user experience is not disrupted. The brand is coming to you, through the TV screen, on your mobile device.
 
CE: Do you envision Augo as a standalone direct to consumer app where multiple brands participate or as a technology plug-in tool to power augmented reality campaigns from within branded apps? 
 
AR: Augo will be a standalone direct to consumer app that is free to download. Brands can pay to create an Augo Experience, but those will all be driven through the app. This is done to avoid any potential confusion for the user (like with QR codes). Watch TV, see the logo, launch Augo. We want it to be that simple. 
 
CE: Your roots are in print based trigger markers, do you see Augo being used by brands to run multi-platform campaigns or are you hoping to focus solely on TV based executions?
 
AR: The technology behind Augo is versatile enough to be used on multiple platforms, but right now our efforts are focused on the TV market. Each platform comes with its own unique challenges, so we are trying to tackle them one at a time. 
 
CE: What types of companies/industries do you think are best suited to leverage the technology that Augo can provide? 
 
AR: The types of companies we targeting for Augo are forward thinking ad agencies that are looking for new and creative ways to engage their consumers. One great example is Frito Lays use of interactive gaming for the successful “Cheetapult” campaign. These types of agencies would be ideal candidates as early adopters for Augo.
The most direct comparisons to their model would be a combination of AR apps like Blippar and Aurasma with the approach to TV programming and commercials currently being used by Shazam. Beyond the television, the video based trigger would certainly have an advantage over audio queues for digital out of home campaigns providing Augo with a lot of potential opportunities there as well. While containing all of the advertiser experiences within the single Augo app does have its advantages, leveraging the tech to power partner apps could be a viable option to keep open – similar to Aurasma powering the AR functionality for the Marvel comics app. I’m excited to watch the app roll out and see the fun interactive campaigns that 4th Wall Technologies will help their partnering brands create. More information on the app and how to contact the team can be found at http://augotv.com.
Check out a demo of the app in action: