A singer steps out of the album cover to talk to the person who just bought the album; or the model posing in the cover of a magazine actually moves and speaks. Sci-fi, anyone? No – it’s augmented reality, seen through your mobile device with the help of an application called Arilyn.
As brands are rushing to find new ways of engaging the masses of millennials, Robust North provides them a new tool for adding value to their commercials and other content. CEO Emmi Jouslehto describes Arilyn as a way of changing the way people see and interact with the world.
“With Arilyn, any surface works as an invitation to virtual reality,” Jouslehto says.
Arilyn consists of two products: the free mobile app Arilyn, which is targeted at consumers, who use it to see and interact with the virtual content made with Arilyn Manager, the online portal on which companies create and manage their content.
According to Jouslehto, the product is mainly aimed at marketing, media, and entertainment industries. She believes augmented reality will soon be a similar business standard as mobile services.
“Not all companies had a website in the 90s, but it did not take long for everyone to get there. Now everyone is on mobile, too, and the first businesses are using virtual reality.”
The reality is out there
Robust North was founded by Jouslehto, creative director Otso Kähönen and CTO Otto Laurila. Jouslehto and Laurila have a background in IT and Kähönen has worked in music and film.
The first version of the app was published in September 2014, and Arilyn Manager was launched in March 2015. The goal is to see augmented reality to move on from one-off campaigns to being a part of continuous communications strategies.
“The point is not to get people put on virtual glasses and go to another dimension,” Jouslehto says. “Rather, we want to add things into the reality they already are in, not as passive bystanders but active contributors.”
Jouslehto thinks new opportunities will rise when devices such as Google Glasses are comfortable and inconspicuous enough for consumers. The Robust North team members keep their eyes peeled for new innovations in the field.
“The situation has changed radically from that of a year ago. People are much more familiar with augmented and virtual realities, which helps us in pushing it forward.”
Jouslehto says that the AR/VR scene is very strong in Finland – and that the expertise is recognised internationally. In addition to its homeland, Robust North has customers in Hungary, Israel, Brazil, and Estonia, and more are on their way.
Now Robust North has a team of six, including its founders. Jouslehto says the plan is to recruit technology and sales development professionals, and she estimates that the company might have about a dozen new employees in a year’s time.
“It all depends on how the progress in augmented and virtual reality in general goes. It might surprise us, and if things take big steps quickly, we must be able to take the jump with it.”