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Augmenting the Reality of the Tech Ecosystem of Honduras

Picture yourself reading a magazine. Now imagine that the page comes alive, playing jingles and displaying images and videos as you read. This is the world of augmented reality (AR) marketing, and it’s a world that one startup in Honduras is looking to conquer.

“Companies often publish print advertising in magazines or newspapers, but can never know the metrics about the audience – nobody can track who has read the advert,” explained Richard Merren, one of the co-founders of Aurem, an eight-man development studio. “With AR, anyone who views the print ad through their camera will be tracked in real-time, giving clients a clear picture of the ad’s success.”

With the global virtual reality (VR) and AR market size and share to be worth US$133.78 billion by 2021, according to Zion Market Research, there are plenty of opportunities up for grabs, particularly as smartphone penetration also continues to grow in Latin America and the world.

Client Applications of AR

Since opening in 2016, Aurem has gathered a variety of clients from different industries, such as Banco Atlántida, one of the country’s biggest banks; Cerveza Barena, a local brewing company; and McCann Erickson, a global advertising and marketing firm.

To persuade readers to download the AR app, the print media advertising usually includes some kind of incentive to do so, like a free product or prize draw. Once the app has been downloaded, they can view the ad through their camera to see new digital images overlaid on the real world.

AR isn’t limited to simple images on a screen, though; it can utilize algorithms for facial, image, speech, GPS, and audio recognition, as well as something called a “SLAM” algorithm (or, simultaneous localization and mapping, for short).

“The sky is not the limit with AR; it is only limited by people’s imaginations,” said Alejandra Torres, Marketing Director and co-founder. “The problem is that people have a prehistoric mindset, particularly when it comes to marketing, so they can’t envision the full potential of the AR solutions on offer.”

Honduras Hasn’t Been Plain Sailing

Although the BPO sector in Honduras has seen some decent play in recent years, the country isn’t exactly well-known for its development of next generation software.

According to Merren and Torres, founding Aurem in Honduras has been a real challenge. The two co-founders had to bootstrap the company, investing capital from their own pockets to get the ball rolling.

“There are no people helping startups get off the ground in Honduras, so we had no outside funding at all,” said Torres. “Also, most tech startups are focused on web development or e-commerce, not really on innovation and AR.”

Despite the lack of support, Aurem is expanding its focus into other areas and industries, such as a “game-changing” experience for stadium goers and a partnership with a large telco in the region. To achieve this growth, the company is hiring external freelancers to help with projects, all of which come from Honduras.

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“We believe in giving something back to Honduras to help develop the technical talent pool, as well as offering people a better quality of life,” said Merren. “Our business model is unique in Central America, so we hope to attract some great talent as we attempt to grow further.”

With comments from Apple Chief Tim Cook speaking to the value and potential of AR, and comparing it to the silicon found in smartphone chips, it’s clear that the technology will become more important as time goes on. As Aurem continues to grow as one of the first AR startups in Central America, Honduras may start to step out of it’s BPO-centric bubble and into a new realm of next-gen software development.

Matt Kendall

During his 2+ years as Chief Editor at Nearshore Americas, Matt Kendall operated at the heart of both the Nearshore BPO and IT services industries, reporting on the most impactful stories and trends in the sector.

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