Life & Style

Learn about Bengaluru sights through these augmented reality postcards

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The places of interest range from the city’s Blossom Book House and Koshy’s to even Queen’s Bath in Hampi

Do you know how Church Street got its name? How old the rock in Lalbagh is? Or which famous theatre Plaza, which stood on MG Road, was modelled on? Sure, you can Google the answers or pick one of the augmented reality postcards designed and marketed by FlippAr Go and scan it using the app to watch the postcard come alive as a video plays, superimposed over the postcard, detailing the history of the establishment or structure.

The Bengaluru-based startup began the postcards initiative about eight months ago after testing it out with four or five postcards kept in Goobe’s Book Republic. After getting incorporated in 2015, the company, in 2017, was among the eight companies selected after the state Department of Tourism invited startups to participate in an initiative called Idea2POC (proof of concept) to build solutions to enhance the experience of tourists. That resulted in creating different AR experiences at Lalbagh and Cubbon Park.

Learn about Bengaluru sights through these augmented reality postcards
 

Now they have about 60 postcards (in different styles of illustration) for Bengaluru, covering familiar and well-loved places from Blossom Book House, India Coffee House, Peninsular Gneiss Rock, Galaxy theatre, Church Street, KR Market, Glass House in Lalbagh and even The Biere Club. Not only that, the company also has about 120 postcards covering places in Karnataka such as the Queen’s Bath in Hampi and Mysore Palace as well as 16 postcards done in collaboration with Telangana Tourism. In total, there are nearly 400 postcard designs also covering places such as Delhi and Chennai.

The fact that people are actually still interested in buying and sending postcards caught even founder of FlippAR Go founder Vivek Mahaveer Jain by surprise.

Learn about Bengaluru sights through these augmented reality postcards
 

“It was surprising. Startups are primarily about experimenting and then you see what works and scale up on that. So, we did quite a lot of experiments and the postcards initiative picked up well. We have had people from more than 30 countries picking it up in Bangalore and going back and using it. Within India, it is about 150 cities.”

The science behind it
  • “With each postcard, each image has key feature points. When someone scans the postcard, it matches with those feature points from a database, and it knows what the picture is, and then it superimposes a video on it. Right now, it is video but it could have multiple experiences but more contextual. For example, we have a ton of other experiences such as being able to play the musical pillars at the Vijaya Vittala Temple, Hampi, on the FlippAR Go app. When you tap on the image of the pillars on your phone, it plays the notes of ‘Sa Re Ga Ma’. Right now, the ASI does not allow tourists to try it out at the actual temple because it is damaging the structure. This means that people lose an opportunity to experience something it. So, we have sort of recreated that.”
  • For the postcards, it uses AR technology. It is basically image recognition. There are unlimited possibilities of using AR technology to engage people. The last couple of years we have experimented and now we know what works and we are scaling up on that.”

The commerce graduate adds, “I am not a history guy. But it is amazing to know the stories of the places. It is important for people to understand the culture of the city. Why is there a pub culture, why there is so much of a movie culture within the central business district? Our objective is to get people to engage with the city.”

So how exactly do they decide which places will make it to postcard size?

Says Vivek, “We feature anything that brings about the history of the city. History need not be 500 years ago. For example, The Biere Club were the first guys to start a microbrewery in Bangalore. We cover places that have a story to say. Because Bangalore is our home, we have covered it extensively. Once we get more popular, we want to cover hidden gems in the country.”

Learn about Bengaluru sights through these augmented reality postcards
 

Stating that future plans include the launch of the Seven Wonders of the world by cricketer Chris Gayle who is the brand ambassador. Vivek says, “We recently launched a postcard campaign on Kempegowda and Dr Rajkumar and are currently working on the cultural heritage of Karnataka, which is basically the festivals and dance forms. We will launch that maybe in the next two weeks.”

As for whether they have got any suggestions on places they should cover, Vivek laughs, “A lot of people want us to cover Calcutta.”

The AR postcards are priced at ₹50 and are available at various places including Blossom Book House and Champaca cafe. The FlippAR Go app is available for Android and iOS.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 3:01:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/learn-about-bengaluru-sights-through-these-augmented-reality-postcards/article30512204.ece

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