Imagine reading a book to your child and having the characters come to life and hop right off of the pages. Thanks to augmented reality this is now possible. One Idaho company, Augpix Ventures is embracing the use of AR in their children’s book Ernie’s Wish Trail. The book is enabled for AR with an iphone/iPad app, but can also be enjoyed without the AR experience. With every interaction Ernie the main character has, up pops a new wish to be someone else - an enchantment with their natural gifts. The app allows the viewer to see the wish come off the page with animation and sound. The book ends with Ernie rediscovering the simple pleasures and joys of being himself.
Augpix didn’t start out with the intent to create children’s books. When the company was founded in 2014 they were focused mostly around creating AR apps for museums and publications. Founder and CEO, Narayan Vaidyanathan had a background in marketing and product development, but AR technology was new to him. He leaned on a team of successful developers in India, who were experts in visual effects (VFX) and 3D modeling, who were transitioning into Augmented Reality and game development to create the apps. He oversaw business development and marketing side, while managing client requirements. He was able to secure partnerships with several publications, but found it challenging to break into the museum market and marketing agencies. The push-back was usually due to budget constraints or security concerns. At that time it didn’t seem like the market was quite ready to take the plunge with the technology. Also there were some consolidations in the AR industry with Vuforia being spun off from Qualcomm and Metaio being acquired by Apple. There was a lot of uncertainty about AR SDKs being available to developers for creating their own products and solutions.
The team felt it was time to switch gears. His wife, Radhika, joined the business and together they started to work on adding a B2C dimension where they could launch AR products direct to customers, and came up with the idea to create an AR enabled children’s book. Reluctant readers could be enticed into reading by adding an AR component and early readers could be engaged better. Their own children were the inspiration as they noticed that the kids loved to read the same book over and over again without getting bored. Unlike adults, toddlers and pre-schoolers would read the book and interact with the AR experiences multiple times and perhaps be able to internalize what they read better. Radhika and Narayan felt this would be a non-gimmicky and meaningful application of the technology and thus Ernie’s Wish Trail was born.
In 2018, Augpix will be focusing on building off of the success of their first book. They feel strongly that there is a real market for children’s products that combine learning and gaming. They plan to launch three or four products in the next year, the first being flashcards about bugs. Kids will be able to see the bugs in 3D, label the parts and learn about them in the app that goes with it. They would likely launch the flashcards through Kickstarter so we’ll keep you in the loop as that progresses. Augpix will continue to provide custom apps for the AR space for businesses and now plans to offer solutions in the VR space too. We look forward to seeing what 2018 has in store for Augpix and are excited that they are part of the IVRC community!
For more information about Augpix please visit their website at www.augpix.com
To purchase a copy of their book Ernie’s Wish Trail click HERE
Narayan Vaidyanathan can be reached via email at: Narayan(at)augpix.com