Augmented reality made in Peru: progress and challenges | metaverse | immersive technology | TECHNOLOGY

With the announcement of the arrival of the metaverse — the virtual universe promoted by Meta (Facebook) where people interact through avatars — the technologies that make it up have become more important to the general public. Mainly, one of them has been the most accessible for Peruvian technology.

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To understand their differences, Teófilo Chambilla, professor at the University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC), explains to El Comercio that “There are three technologies: augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed or extended reality. Augmented reality is nothing less than adding virtual or 3D objects to our real world. Virtual reality creates a world, perhaps unknown, an imaginary world. Mixed reality is the combination of these two technologies. So that’s what it’s all about: objects are added to our real world. It’s augmented reality.”

Although the first interactions with this resource took place through video games, its development has diversified into other areas.

beyond reality

Although it may seem incredible, our country has many agencies that use augmented reality in large projects and campaigns for other companies. Under the premise of an immersive experience for users, it has been one of the most featured technologies in national tech events.

“If we develop a project with this reality, we have to make sure that it is so realistic that the user thinks what he sees is really there. This is called immersion. The more immersion you have, the more presence there will be. This is what all the companies that develop these technologies are looking for. Augmented reality is all about the user experience,” adds Chamilla.

These companies are the ones leading immersive development in Peru. Adapting to the needs of certain consumers, they used the tool in different ways.

Interactive technology agency Stringnet gives examples of its technological advances with augmented reality and other technologies related to the metaverse.

Strignet has worked with different brands that wanted to use immersive technology in their promotions. So we have campaigns like Larcomar’s with the WWF organization. The objective: to make users aware of the care of marine species. Stringnet was clear that augmented reality was the tool capable of achieving thiswithout invading the marine territory.

The Larcomar Shopping Center and the WWF organization inaugurated the first augmented reality event in Peru, with the support of Strignet in the process of carrying out an awareness campaign on the state of marine animals.  (Photo: Broadcast)
The Larcomar Shopping Center and the WWF organization inaugurated the first augmented reality event in Peru, with the support of Strignet in the process of carrying out an awareness campaign on the state of marine animals. (Photo: Broadcast)

Roberto Carrión, executive director of Stringnet, explains that “In Peru there are many companies like ours, with highly qualified people who are up to the task. These experiences are not just about the user looking at them, but about interacting with their phone. Augmented reality in our country is on the right track in this regard.”

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Another of his exhibitions took place at the gastronomic fair of Mistura. There they overwhelmed those who attended the activities carried out by the fishermen to bring food to their table. Famous Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio witnessed the activation.

Interactive activation with augmented reality of Stringnet.  Design, programming and execution of the action at Mistura 2015. (Photo: Diffusion)
Interactive activation with augmented reality of Stringnet. Design, programming and execution of the action at Mistura 2015. (Photo: Diffusion)

Among other companies we have Artemar, which develops projects in which the user is immersed in augmented reality in common activities. In this way it seeks to normalize its use among people, as one more tool in our daily lives.

Among Artemar’s projects are wine bottle packaging and building brochures. Through the mobile phone, you can see the ingredients of the product. In the case of brochures, we see a model of the building that is planned to be built. Thus, the user will be able to interact with the product, its components and the objectives that the brand has with the customer.

Miguel Atencio, Executive Director of Artemar, tells us about his projects which “Although these technologies are very attractive, you have to know how to use them strategically so that it does not become boring content. It must contain valuable information, so that it can be digested and it can be massive. If it doesn’t contribute much, it’s a loss.”

That’s to say, One of the fundamental pillars of using augmented reality is creativity. Through it, these major projects have been carried out in areas outside the conventional ones.

“Trade and education are the sectors that will benefit the most from these developments”, add attention.

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From video games to classrooms

The commitment to more teaching materials in schools has taken into consideration the insertion of new technologies in the classroom. Added to this, the arrival of the pandemic has meant a drastic change in teaching. In this scenario, other companies have opted for the use of augmented reality to develop formats that facilitate learning for the little ones.

An example is the case of Hope, a Peruvian startup that is constantly working on the development of immersive technologies for preschool and primary education. This adventure was born with the sale of augmented reality software to schools, to apply them in school activities. However, with the arrival of the pandemic, the project had to adapt to online courses.

Some augmented reality companies have developed tools with this technology for the education sector.  (Photo: Broadcast)
Some augmented reality companies have developed tools with this technology for the education sector. (Photo: Broadcast)

This is how tools like Qbox, Hope 4D and the Hope Coloring app came into being. These applications use augmented reality to expose scientific, historical or geographical subjects through interactive graphics. The Qbox, for example, can teach children what a dinosaur or the inside of a heart looks like.

Anthony Chanduví, CEO of Hope, explains to our Daily the shift in adapting augmented reality technologies to a more convenient format for users. “As a result of the pandemic, we have decided to change the model of our augmented reality presentations to a more practical model, so that parents and children can manage it from home. This involved creating apps, which people could download from the Play Store.

The ease of handling these technologies is one of the advantages they bring, in addition to their ease of adaptation to different formats. Compared to virtual reality, augmented reality presents more facilities for venturing into the field of education.

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Professor Chambilla reinforces this idea by adding that “Among the technologies applied in the metaverse, augmented reality is the most accessible, since, in its most basic format, only a mobile phone would be needed. It’s easier to reach users this way, although that doesn’t mean there aren’t problems in the projects.”

Augmented reality can be adapted to different formats to be applied in school education.  (Photo: Broadcast)
Augmented reality can be adapted to different formats to be applied in school education. (Photo: Broadcast)

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Challenges

Although it has been seen that augmented reality in our country is on the right track, there are still challenges to overcome.

“When we launched the project, we mentioned that we were selling augmented reality software. So people didn’t understand what we were talking about, because they didn’t know what augmented reality was. We had to find a reference nearby for them to understand our product. We pointed out that it looked like such a video game so they could understand us. That was the main challenge, making people understand what this resource is and how it can be applied in the education of children” Chanduví explains the obstacles he faced in his startup Hope.

Artemar’s Miguel Atencio reveals a similar experience: “In terms of augmented reality, the biggest obstacle to the progress of projects was to make them known. Few people understood what we wanted to do. This is why some companies have not dared to bet on technological events”.

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Developing these immersive experiences hasn’t been easy either.. Currently, our country has been able to access many technological equipment necessary to develop interactions with new technologies. However, their access is still limited to small sectors of our population.

“For computers to process an augmented reality project, they require a lot of resources, like a slot machine. But very few own such machines or are willing to pay for them. The same thing happens with cell phones. Mid-range or high-end cell phones are required. So obviously the experience is restricted for a certain group of people.” comment Roberto Carrion of Stringnet

Despite this, augmented reality companies continue to persevere in the progress they make in every presentation or event they do. The objective of each of them is to fully familiarize themselves with immersive technologies.

“If this technology is standardized, we could build our own metaverse in the country”, Finish Professor Chambilla.

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