As part of the launch of ARound, Stagwell has acquired Object Theory, a leader in creating custom augmented reality applications for businesses using wearables, smartphones, and tablets. Object Theory was a Fast Company “Most Innovative Virtual/Augmented Reality Companies” recipient and one of the first Microsoft agency partners for HoloLens.

Raven Zachary is Chief Operating Officer (COO) at ARound focused on product delivery and operations. Prior to founding Object Theory, Raven spent eight years in the mobile app industry. In 2007, he was the founder of iPhoneDevCamp, the largest iOS development conference outside of Apple’s own Worldwide Developers Conference. The following year, Raven was the director of the official Obama ’08 for iPhone app for the Obama Campaign, which lead to the formation of Small Society, a mobile application development company. He was responsible for launching mobile applications for Starbucks, Zipcar, Whole Foods Market, the Democratic Party, Amazon, and many other well-known brands. In 2012, he sold Small Society to Walmart, where he directed the mobile product management team, launching a dozen mobile apps and sites for the world’s largest company.

We’re excited to be a part of ARound, focused on bringing audiences together through shared AR experiences connected to live events. At Object Theory, we spent six and a half  years creating augmented reality experiences for wearables and mobile devices, working with Microsoft, large enterprises, and consumer packaged goods companies, to name a few. This included everything from training content for workers to operational tools used in day-to-day business to customer demo experiences at trade shows and industry events.

We learned a lot in that time about AR – what experiences resonate with customers , how they can derive significant value from the use of this technology, and where the market is in its maturity. Deploying wearable AR to a handful of specialized workers or a sales team is a step in the right direction, but getting AR to scale for the mass market in all aspects of life will take a different approach than where we focused. 

We believe that AR can reach a large and relevant audience today, with the right approach and a narrow focus.

It has to be mobile. Today, the dominant AR device is in your pocket. We’re still years away from consumer adoption of wearable AR glasses. There are some key technology challenges to overcome involving optics, battery life, component miniaturization, and cost before we see these new devices being used everyday. Even then, pocket-based computing devices (what we presently call phones) aren’t going away. To reach a large audience, phone-based AR is the only reasonable option in 2022 and for many years to come.

It has to be event-based. AR is not ready to be universally pervasive and ever-present. We don’t have the tech, the network, or the range and diversity of content to make AR an everywhere, all-the-time proposition. Someday, we’ll rely on AR in many facets of life. Until then, AR needs to be at a time and a place with an audience to have meaningful adoption.

It has to be multi-user. Just a few years ago, the novelty of solo experiences in AR were impressive enough. But now, people want more than static displays of 3D models using AR. They want to share an AR experience with others and to be part of something larger than themselves.

It has to be backed by a household brand or name. AR experiences need to be promoted by people and organizations with strong reach and influence to attract attention. Building the experiences is only half of the equation. The other half is drawing attention to what was built. There are numerous distractions and competing sources of attention out there. Being the new app is no longer enough.

This is why we’re so excited to be a part of ARound. The solution we’re building is mobile, event-based, and multi-user. Stagwell’s deep relationships with some of the world’s leading brands provides ARound with business development opportunities that a traditional startup would be challenged to achieve at its size. 

ARound’s focus on shared AR experiences connected to live events is the right approach for achieving scale today.