Augmented Reality (AR) overlays computer-generated objects, visuals and animations onto real-world settings using a smartphone camera, and the possibilities of AR are limitless. In recent years, AR and Virtual Reality (VR) have become useful tools for improving the customer’s experience across many industries, giving the brands working in these fields a competitive edge.
Customer Experience & Immersive Tech
From attracting new customers through to building long-term brand loyalty, great customer experiences (CX) matter. There's mounting evidence that exceptional customer service is a major factor in customers' decision-making – and that they're willing to pay a premium for it.
Hoteliers are investing in AR solutions to provide exciting and unique guest stays that exceed expectations. According to MarketsandMarkets, the AR market is estimated to reach $60.55 billion (USD) by 2023, catering to the growing number of smartphone-savvy travellers. With varied applications of interactive technology possible across all types of properties, the hospitality industry is set to contribute significantly to this growth. Unlike VR, AR enables attendees to be immersed in an experience without wearing heavy headsets – they only need their smartphone, providing businesses with a more cost-friendly option to VR experiences.
Hospitality companies need to differentiate their brand experiences if they want to attract a younger, tech-savvy audience. Consumers are becoming more aware of AR technology and more comfortable using it in everyday life, so companies need to stay ahead of ever-evolving guest expectations.
Maskomi is an immersive tech ‘visual collective’ start-up that creates interactive installations for galleries and brands around the world. Based in Soho, the business has worked with the likes of Fiat, Nike and the Champion’s League. They are now targeting the hospitality sector.
Maskomi joined ACE IT’s first cohort in April, 2021. We worked together for eight months, and throughout this time we managed to fast-track their innovation.
Lee Robinson, the founder of Maskomi, is a Photographer/Videographer in the Hospitality sector. He is interested in the transformative effect of technology within arts and society. The idea of founding Maskomi came while he was working in the hospitality industry. Lee realised that there is a market for another level of information within their products.
Lee aimed to develop an AR app that would give hotels and restaurants a chance to provide a visual representation of their menus in the digital world – and the app has many benefits for diners. Using their smartphones, diners can scan a QR code on their menu to see what the dish will look like, including the main components of the dish and the overall presentation of the meal. The dish will appear as though it is already on their table.
Working with ACE IT
Lee worked with our ACE IT team over a period of eight months to perfect the concept and develop the final product.
“I had a very positive experience working with the business and Lee, due to his openness to ideas and drive to push the limits of what this product could be.” – Joseph Allison [Creative Technologist]
ACE IT provided the project with scoping and helped to build a Minimum Viable Product(MVP) for the start-up – they also:
- Researched relevant approaches to develop an AR application that was appropriate for the hospitality industry.
- Built a demo version of the app in record time, using assets, animations, menus, and photo scans provided by Maskomi.
- Provided product development support, setting out the scale, scope, and length of the projects.
- Performed rapid prototyping of the application, helping Lee to build an understanding of how the technology works and how the application can be improved.
“This information was designed to help the business in sourcing and contracting a developer and building up their understanding of the expectations in working with this sector”. – JosephAllison [Creative Technologist]
The Maskomi app was made for iPhone and used Unity with AR foundation for functions. The app included some small animations and menu items to help develop its identity.
This support enabled Lee to create a pitch and planning sessions for hospitality clients, including details such as key costs, pricing, and a preview using the demo version of the app.
“Joining the ACE IT programme gave me the impetus of developing my ideas withinAugmented Reality applications. The knowledge from LSBU has been beneficial and the team of Rachel Beach, Alex Hokin, and Martin Monov have been excellent. Developer Joseph Allison has been invaluable with his contribution to the project”. - Lee Robinson
The future for Maskomi
Lee is currently working towards establishing his start-up, pitching his ideas to hotels in central London. His goal is to maximise the application, so it can work in every restaurant.