MAAD brings a touch of reality

A Newcastle digital design and advertising agency is pioneering an interactive virtual marketing tool with a potential worldwide market.

Pink Lane-based MAAD has developed an augmented reality programme using Flash technology to allow a user with internet and webcam connection to interact with a computer simulation.

Using a unique symbol, which could be inscribed on a card or a product such as a cosmetics bottle, the user can manipulate 3D designs on screen by moving the symbol.

MAAD is already working for a consumer goods company on an updated version of the Scratch ‘n’ Sniff card, where moving the card will cause an image of a bubble holding virtual scent molecules to rotate on screen. Scratching the card will cause the virtual bubble to burst, releasing the molecules, while physically releasing the scent from the card.

MAAD managing director Colin Kelly said: “This augmented reality system has limitless application. It can clearly be used as an in-store marketing product for all kinds of products, but the potential goes way beyond that.

“You could, for example, send a send a birthday card bearing a symbol, which, when you hold it up to a computer webcam, generates a picture of a birthday cake with lit candles; when you rotate the card, the cake rotates, perhaps to reveal a message and then you blow into the microphone and the candles are extinguished.”

MAAD has devoted many hours to combining existing augmented technology, which to be used alone requires the installation of high-end technology, with Papervision, which allows 3D on Flash.

Mr Kelly added: “We think it’s important that, instead of sitting back during a recession, waiting for the storm to pass, a company like ours should continue to innovate and develop products. Digital design and media is a fast moving environment, even in these times, and you have to stay ahead of the curve.”

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