An app designed to revitalise Britain’s ailing high streets has pipped Google to the post in bringing augmented reality to the high street.
While Google showed off new features planned for Google Maps earlier this month, including an augmented reality Street View mode, the south Wales-based developers of NearMeNow have already pushed the boundaries of emerging technology to bring AR to the high street.
Developed alongside CEMET (The Centre of Excellence for Mobile and Emerging Technology) at the University of South Wales, the NearMeNow app transforms the customer experience of shoppers allowing them to interact with adverts whilst viewing the high street through their smartphone camera lens.
High street businesses are able to push their traditional shop front advertising into the wider community and at the touch of a button, advertise if new stock has arrived, if a salon has a free appointment, or a restaurant a free table.
Victoria Mann, founder and CEO of NearMeNow, said:
“We’re thrilled to be releasing augmented reality on the high street ahead of Google. By putting emerging tech, such as AR, into the hands of independent shop owners, we’re helping put them ahead of the game and ahead of bigger brands and larger organisations.
“The NearMeNow app is designed to provide the complete digital toolkit that high street businesses need to compete on a level playing field with bigger chains and online shopping.”
NearMeNow will be exhibiting at the Digital Festival at the Wales Millennium Stadium next week, where they will be exhibiting its augmented reality technology for the first time.
Clayton Jones, programme manager of CEMET, said:
“We’re delighted to have been able to assist Victoria and her colleagues in bringing the benefits of Augmented Reality to the NearMeNow app, which I’m sure will breathe new life into the high street shopping experience.
“CEMET is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, which was designed to help businesses with proven growth potential and NearMeNow definitely falls into this category.
“It’s an added bonus that the impact of our collaboration will be far reaching since the NearMeNow app places emerging technology in the hands of all small independent businesses giving them a head start on some of the larger organisations.”
Hoping to bring new ideas, skills and digital technology to advance high streets across the UK, NearMeNow’s launch follows recent research from PwC that showed an average of 16 high street stores closed every day in 2017, totalling 5,855 over the course of the year.
“Research shows that high street store openings are at their lowest in seven years, while the number of stores closing continues to grow. Our high streets are under increasing pressure from online competition and yet, many people I speak too are still keen to buy local and use regional shops and suppliers.
“We felt the potential for communities and local economies to reap the benefits of digital was not being realised. Through NearMeNow, we hope to re-energise the traditional high street model delivering the most innovative technology, while at the same time digitally upskilling traders.”
Based at Welsh ICE in Caerphilly, NearMeNow has secured £200,000 investment led by the Development Bank of Wales, who invested £150,000. It has also received backing from TownSquare’s Accelerator, NatWest’s Entrepreneurial Spark and Business Wales’ Accelerated Growth Programme for businesses with high growth potential.