By Scott McCubbin

It was vindication of our approach; that using augmented reality could reach new audiences. It was also vindication for a client who was willing to take a bold step to engage young audiences in their community.

This was our prize; Best Use of Innovation at the Archiboo Awards for our Harrow 3D Map - one of the most prestigious awards in communicating places using technology.

We had hoped we'd go one step further than last year when, as a finalist for our work with ShedKM, we milled around the podium, hopeful. We had to be satisfied with a runners-up prize that year, but the work for Harrow Council was a new opportunity to demonstrate what could be done using immersive tech. We found a client with an appetite to break with tradition.

Harrow had reached the decision that a weighty SRF (Strategic Regeneration Framework for those of you who don’t know) was never going to inspire a young generation in the future of their hometown of Wealdstone. The aim was to encourage a sense of pride and hopefully stimulate the town's younger population to take the story to their parents.

The answer was an AR map, a combination of a phone app and a pretty cool, but nevertheless, paper map.

In short, you hold your phone to the paper map and it comes to life with a series of 3D animations, interactions, with audio talking you through brief summaries of the plans in a very honest, straight-talking style.

And, if you really didn't feel comfortable with the app, the paper map contained just enough information to give you a sense of what was happening, without overwhelming you.

The judges were looking for entries that “took a robust approach to technology that is relevant to the audience using AR, VR or interactive 3D”. Their starting point was cynical “augmented reality has been a huge buzzword”, but thankfully they saw what we hoped others would see, “while the project clearly required a lot of work to execute, the app allows the user to learn about the planned regeneration project in a playful way that will appeal to a wide age group.”

Praise and encouragement for our guys to keep innovating in the immersive team. And rightful praise on the night to the people of Harrow for pushing the boundaries.

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