Best of Both Worlds
    Category: Entrepreneurs By : Octaviana Kale Read : 2879 Date : Monday, July 14, 2014 - 13:17:58

    Ahmad Zamroni for Forbes Indonesia

    Peter Shearer holds a car brochure up to his laptop’s webcam. “This is an ordinary brochure,” he says. Suddenly an image of the car appears on his screen. Turning the paper, Peter turns the car’s image, giving him a 3600 view of the car. He then drives the car on a racetrack, moving the brochure like a steering wheel. As the car careens around the track, different features of the car are revealed to Peter.

    Peter’s racetrack simulation is an example of advertising using augmented reality, a technology that meshes the real and virtual worlds. “This example is a simple form of augmented reality, yet you can imagine how useful augmented reality is for marketing and advertising,” he says. Peter’s interest in virtual worlds is very real, since he is the managing director and co-founder of Augmented Reality & Co., known simply as AR&Co. His company, based in Jakarta, is commercializing augmented reality technology for corporate clients to use in advertising, marketing and branding. AR&Co has expanded outside Indonesia, and has offices in Barcelona, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Yangon.

    Augmented reality’s roots trace back to the 1960s, but its use for commercial applications is just getting started, and is helped by the increasing power and sophistication of the latest hardware and software. “We saw the needs of businesses that others did not touch,” recalls Peter, 30. With a background in advertising, Peter set up AR&Co in 2009 with four employees—which has grown to 42 staff. “We took the opportunity to focus on augmented reality and it was amazing because the market in Indonesia was very broad,” he says.

    AR&Co is actually part of WIR, an Indonesian digital branding firm whose formal name is PT WiryaInovasi. Peter used to work part time for WIR but came on board full time when the opportunity arose to establish AR&Co. Peter says augmented reality is a versatile technology with a wide range of applications. “For now, entertainment, advertising and marketing are the most promising,” says Peter.

    Peter still remembers how Telkom bet on the newborn company in October 2009, just months after the company was started, to develop an augmented reality demonstration for an event to launch Telkom’s new logo. In the event, Telkom’s chief executive at the time, RinaldiFirmansyah, virtually held the old logo that slowly turned into the new logo through computer animation on a screen beside where he stood. “It was a national audience and we performed this augmented reality effect live. I was so nervous that I tried to hide myself in an audience seat,” Peter laughs. The demonstration worked without a hitch, earning AR&Co vital credibility early in its history.