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Downtown board will use augmented reality app to draw more business to CBD

Orlando tech firm Echo Interaction Group just won a contract with Orlando’s Downtown Development Board to juice up its marketing materials so they literally jump off the page.

The DDB approved a $25,719 contract with Echo Interaction to create new mobile applications that will utilize augmented reality (AR) capabilities to promote the Central Business District to potential business clients and developers. The app, which will be available on both iOS and Android systems, can operate independently or in concert with printed materials to enhance it with digital messaging.

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The city staff is producing a 15-page booklet that will be embedded with images to trigger AR content that can be viewed in the app or using the smartphone’s camera.

“Echo calls them experiences,” DDB Marketing Director Kelly Allen said. “You hold your phone and hover over a specific image or text, and we could have a video that pops up. It’s targeted to a B2B market. The advantage of this is the information can be changed in real time and updated.”

The initial contract calls for Echo to create six AR experiences and up to 30 additional uploads, which could include simple animations, motion graphics, vector art animations and 3D object modeling with interactive links.

“Some examples might be video capabilities,” Allen said. “So on the opening page, where we might have a welcome letter from the mayor or executive director, we could have the app open on the phone and the message comes to life.”

The system can also be used to promote new developments and downtown activities. A page highlighting Camping World Stadium could include a video that shows the stadium renovations and major events.

Another AR experience could provide a detailed presentation on the residential population downtown, including how many new residential units are planned or approved, or available commercial and office space in the CBD. Additional pages highlight event venues, such as the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts and Amway Center, and the nighttime economy.

“It’s a really high-level snapshot of downtown,” Allen said. “What’s great is that it extends to shelf-life of the (marketing materials).”

Echo CEO Carlos Carbonell said the users can access the AR experiences on the booklet without downloading the app. “You want to give people the choice and the option to not necessarily download a full application,” he said. The benefit of having the app is that it offers additional content produced by the DDB and the ability to receive push notifications for updates.

“The goal is to have way more content than just the initial marketing material,” he said. “So this investment really is for a new immersive content delivery system for the DDB, which is pretty exciting.”

Ultimately, the project should save the client money by reducing the need for costly, printed marketing materials. The same content can be condensed onto a small brochure, or even a palm card.

And the technology doesn’t even have to be tied to the printed materials. Echo will upload 3D images of future developments — like new condo towers or the Orlando Magic Sports & Entertainment District — in the app, and those can be triggered using the geolocation service on the user’s smart devise.

“So we can actually physically go to an empty lot and see what that building would look like, against the skyline and just point the phone and see a 3D version of that of that building,” Carbonell said.

Echo Interaction Group already has a long client list in the public and private sector, including Tavistock, Turner Construction and the Orlando Economic Partnership.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261, or tweet me at @byLauraKinsler. Follow GrowthSpotter on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

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