Astral partners with Ad-Dispatch on augmented reality app

August 31, 2012  |  Chris Powell  |  Comments

Astral Out-of-Home is getting into the augmented reality business.

The Montreal-based company has partnered with Halifax-based Ad-Dispatch – which bills itself as “North America’s leader in augmented reality (AR) development” – to help launch a new universal AR application called Iris AR for the out-of-home industry.

Terms were not disclosed, but Ad-Dispatch’s vice-president of sales, Jonathan Burns, said the partnership has been constructed on an in-kind basis, with certain benchmarks for participation, education and go-to-market strategies.

It is a marriage between what Burns called a “brilliant” out-of-home strategist with an expert in the AR space.

“It’s an opportunity for both of us to go to market with a really innovative app and be able to leverage it jointly,” he said. He wouldn’t disclose development costs, but said Ad-Dispatch has been working on the app for about 14 months.

Available for both iOS and Android devices, and created specifically for the Canadian out-of-home advertising market, Iris uses AR to bring two-dimensional creative to life.

It made its formal debut last week in Toronto with a TSA campaign for the alcohol brand Drambuie designed to bring its “Taste of the Extraordinary” campaign to life. When users interact with the ad via Iris they see a three-dimensional image of a Drambuie bottle turning upside down, with the liquid flowing upwards.

While AR is not new to the marketing space, previous efforts have required users to download a campaign-specific app. The bilingual Iris app can be used to access AR content for multiple campaigns from multiple vendors. “The objective is to create a community of AR brands with the user in mind,” said Burns. “The user will be able to connect with out-of-home experiences from this one app.

“It is probably the most robust universal AR app out there.”

Ad-Dispatch had previously worked with Maclean’s on an AR issue and earlier this year partnered with retail giant Walmart and Hollywood Studios (Marvel, Disney and Nickelodeon) to offer in-store AR experiences.

“Our key differentiator is our ability to build content that wows and impresses,” said Burns. “It’s visually appealing and it’s got a component to it that people naturally want to get immersed in that space.”

Established in 1999 as a content developer for North American agencies and retailers, Ad-Dispatch made AR its “primary focus” about three years ago, said Burns.

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