Once seen as an expensive gimmick for early adopters, augmented reality is now mature enough to be a genuine enabling technology for a range of contexts in Victorians’ everyday lives.
It’s now used across healthcare and health research, as well as for education at all levels—from children through to postgraduate study. In other cases, it’s used as a way of bringing people into worlds they would not normally see. For others, it’s a new and powerful tool for people with a disability, helping them to participate in activities they otherwise wouldn’t be able to—augmented reality (AR) is beginning to transform lives.
Augmented reality allows human beings—with their limited perceptual systems—to see deep inside objects that not can’t be seen in real life. It also empowers us to do tasks we could have never imagined. Until recently however, it was relatively expensive and difficult to produce and manage content for an AR platform.
The team at Plattar launched the world’s first SaaS Augmented and Mixed Reality enablement platform in February 2017. The business provides “The world’s simplest augmented reality app builder and content management system”, allowing users to cost-effectively build, manage and deploy their own 3D experiences.
Plattar CEO Rupert Deans labels the platform as highly disruptive.
“It gives anyone with an idea a simple platform to access a multi-billion-dollar industry,” says Deans.
Founded five years ago in New Zealand, Plattar relocated to Melbourne to take advantage of the available skills base and the thriving tech startup culture.
Designing learning materials that bring students up close
One of the key areas of focus for Plattar is education. Developing augmented reality learning material from scratch is not an efficient use of time for most curriculum designers. Plattar’s innovations however, allow them to easily add even more value to Victoria’s world-class education offering.
Using the platform, course content that boosts training in both vocational and university settings can also be delivered relatively cheaply and quickly. The technology puts students in the actual experience, resulting in the ability to practise skills more thoroughly and in realistic contexts; a medical student is able to envision themselves doing a dissection for example.
Promoting insight into complex ideas and products
Plattar’s platform leverages the likes of ARKit (an Apple based framework that enables the building of AR for iPhones) to provide rich and engaging 3D content to portray products that are difficult or impossible to visualise in an ordinary 2D format.
For example, one of Plattar’s clients—the University of Otago—has used the platform to create contextual-based learning for students studying pharmacology. Not only can the students see a 3D version of the molecular structure being studied, but they can experience and practise receiving a prescription. After scanning it, the students then undertake a short gamified test, covering all aspects of the coursework in an interactive environment.
Plattar has also worked with Lemonade Stand—a LaunchVic supported holiday program for budding entrepreneurs that teaches children as young as six a range of 21st century skills, including how to run a business. After creating their very own experience on Plattar’s content management system, they then augment their creations and bring them into the real world. The children learn how to think and create spatially.
First, they are given the opportunity to create their own 3D models and then create their very own Pokemon-like experience using those same models, navigating the platform with ease and intuition.
COO and co-founder of Lemonade Stand Sean Qian says: “This program runs each school holiday period in Melbourne, Sydney and Singapore teaching entrepreneurial skills, emerging technologies and business development training.
“We developed the AR course with Rupert [Deans] with the aim to make kids the creators, rather than the consumers.
“Plattar enabled the participants to create 3D modelling in the morning and by the afternoon export their augmented reality design.”
Showcasing far-off locations
Plattar content creators can also use the technology to show people locations they can’t physically visit, before they make a significant decision or investment. Small-to-medium businesses can substitute Plattar for an expensive trade show visit or trade mission and content can be tailored easily to show a distant location to a targeted audience.
Another Plattar client—a large tertiary education provider—uses the platform to showcase its facilities to international students, making campus tours possible before parents commit tens of thousands of dollars in fees.
Deans says the key to Plattar’s appeal is the ability for creative producers to contribute to and benefit from the big developments in augmented reality, without the huge capital costs of building a native platform or application.