This week, Zappar CEO and Co-Founder, Caspar Thykier, is joined by Jon Meggitt the CEO, and one of the co-founders at Arcade, a digital practice based in London, specializing in the use of immersive technologies to create really rich spatial experiences. An architecture student turned digital agency guru Jon had some amazing insights into the industry, how it's changed and how it's still evolving.
In this session, they cover:
1. Jon’s AR journey and the creation of Arcade
2. The big XR moments of the last few years
3. Changing attitudes towards AR
4. What it is that makes great AR
5. Attracting talent to the industry
6. What exciting things are coming next?
From Architecture to AR
Jon told us that his AR journey started back in the late nineties, “I went to architecture school with one of the other co-founders, Simon, from there we did all sorts of geeky stuff. We were really into our technology, so we did 3D animations, computer science, collaborations and guided city tours and things like that.”
In the mid 2000s “Coming out of six years of studying, we set up a digital agency, well it was called a new media agency back then.” After selling that agency to the YPG, in 2016 they set up a new agency.
“We were looking to bring architecture back into our lives a bit and looking at the combination of our passion and expertise in architecture and digital technologies. How do you bring those things together?”
“Around that time, we could see what was happening with Apple and Google and that sudden massive focus on augmented reality and VR that had been growing alongside it. So, it was a big moment for us when we said actually immersive technology has come of age or was about to come of age and it's the right time.”
The rise of WebAR
We asked Jon what he felt the biggest XR moments have been and amongst String AR, Snap, Instagram and Facebook was the familiar cry of WebAR. “WebAR, we have to talk about it's a massive moment because it was the holy grail of being able to do it without an app.”
“It was a massive barrier for a lot of potential clients when we're talking about immersive experiences. So to be able to do something that is that easy to access and enter has been great. And it's been around for a while, which, you know, more about than I do Caspar, but, it's really in the last couple of years we've seen it increase, and especially the last few months, it's been great”
Growing AR adoption
We asked Jon if he had seen a change in attitudes towards AR in recent years, “Yeah, definitely there's still a lot of ‘I don't know anything about this’, but it's combined with, ‘but we want to do something with it’ because they're now seeing stuff out there. And there's an understanding now that this is a massive platform for their business, it's another channel essentially.”
“That's what we've always wanted clients to see, this is a really exciting new channel. It's the way to reach your audiences in their space and that can do profound things with how they relate to your products or your services.”
What makes great AR?
When asked what makes the difference between great AR and just good AR Jon responded, “It has a wow factor. You can't deny that, but we're very careful and have been all along to say, we can't do something just for the wow factor alone.”
“You need to consider: Why are you using AR or immersive technologies. What's the actual benefit to you when you're using it? But at the same time, the wow factor does help. So especially in marketing, it's a combination of that. We like to talk about the technology in terms of how it can connect people to play.”
“And it can connect people to brands. It connects people to products, but it's that more meaningful connection that a spatial experience can deliver.”
The next generation of AR creators
On hiring talent within the industry Jon says “There's a lot of talent out there. In our previous business we hired people who were very young and liked to try and keep them in a business to grow with the business and work up through it and then hire more young people under them, for them to look after. So we're doing the same thing again with Arcade.”
“We've got a really young team apart from me, Simon and Alex the founders, everyone's in their mid-twenties and it's brilliant but it's very hard to actually notice if there's actual talent there. It's very sort of trial and error often, and you've got to just sort of go with your hunches, but some of our most talented staff have come pretty much straight out of uni or with one or two years experience.”
What’s next in AR?
“It's probably world mapping and the AR cloud, and I have no idea who's going to get there first, but loads of people are working on it, from Apple and their world mapping, which is only available in some cities in the states, to organizations that are doing it more independently.”
“Just for our devices to be able to understand the world around them instantly, and no matter where you are, so that the AR can just be naturally part of the environment. We can work with it as we would architects and builders with physical materials, we can just work with the world with the digital side of things. That is by far the most exciting thing.”