In a post-pandemic world, technology has never been more important for the tourism sector. From changing the way operators target travellers to disrupting existing service offerings, tourism tech is forcing a re-imagining of the visitor experience and the end-to-end visitor journey.
As digital transformation continues to reshape modern society, every new tourism tech platform or cutting-edge solution has the potential to put our state ahead of the game by helping attract a new generation of traveller and enticing more traditional customers to engage with the industry in a new and interesting way.
New technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) are one way the innovation sector is helping enhance tourism experiences for travellers, creating new possibilities for operators and creating legitimate pathways to support tourism growth in Queensland.
Hailing from Outback Queensland, Ignite Ideas Fund recipients, Equipped to Discover (E2D) are a homegrown company tapping into innovation to help transform the tourism sector and whetting the appetites of global holidaymakers.
With no off-the-shelf technology available for small businesses to develop AR products, E2D set off on a journey of their own, to bring AR innovation to the tourism sector.
In 2019, E2D launched LiveOrbis, an innovative solution to help increase customer interactions by allowing potential customers to explore attractions before arriving at a holiday destination.
The LiveOrbis platform allows operators such as museums, retailers and other businesses to create AR products without the need for them to have their own coding literacy or technical skills. This includes various AR effects such as video, sound, 2D images and animations, 3D images and animations, tags, links, hidden messages, guided tours and immersive experiences.
Advance Queensland support allowed E2D to beta test their AR solutions with potential customers, including the Eromanga Natural History Museum, Bullo Shire, and Outback Queensland Tourism Association.
We recently caught up with E2D Founder, Geoff Pike to discuss how the Ignite Ideas Fund has helped his Outback Queensland business.
What inspired you to start your business?
I have always been in business and founded my first start-up at the age of 20, immediately after I finished my trade apprenticeship.
It wasn’t easy, I lived in an inland town with only 200 people, 1,000km from the coast. The region was very remote and isolated, and customers were hard to find.
Over the course of 12 years, I grew a sole trader business from $65,000 annual revenue to a $30 million, triple internationally certified, major construction company with more than 300 employees spread across half of Australia (NT, QLD, NSW andSA).
When that business finished, I wanted to challenge myself once again. I enjoy business and I enjoy watching people who are driven to succeed reach their goals. The vision for LiveOrbis is another step up from that, its vision is to become the software of choice to bring AR into every business’ marketing strategy.
What milestones have been reached?
The technology is continually evolving and improving which must remain as the focus for the business to succeed. To date the key milestones have been:
Developing a complex integrated software architecture from scratch that enables the widest spectrum of AR tools currently available.
Bringing businesses on board and seeing them succeed by using our technology.
Being inspired by watching people connect in ways they never thought possible.
What achievements are you most proud of to date?
Every time we see a user engage with an experience that was created through our LiveOrbis AR technology, it brings a smile to my face.
It’s something I never get sick of, it’s a very pleasant and humble way to enjoy the effort and countless hours of development that have been undertaken.
Equally, when a customer decides to believe in our product by signing up, it means that our technology is yet again validated, and we see our efforts go on to provide another immersive customer experience.
What are your business goals over the next 12-24 months?
We will continue to develop the AR utilities within LiveOrbis. We have begun working on a ‘Kiosk’ module that will integrate with the technology on a different level once again. The LiveOrbis toolkit will encompass so many opportunities in the future and it is well positioned to morph directly into wearable AR as the technology becomes more widely adopted.
How have you used your Ignite Ideas funding?
The Ignite Ideas funding has been a very important part in the life of LiveOrbis. It was the gateway for ideas and concepts that have now become adopted tools within the program technology.
The funding has allowed us to meet people across various industries with a variety of business expertise to discuss their limitations and recognise what areas will provide them the greatest advantages in the future. This has helped in further developing LiveOrbis, allowing us to adopt these learnings and integrate those tools within the technology.
How has this funding assisted your business to grow and/or create jobs?
The funding enabled the business to meet with various industry stakeholders and to learn what is important which provided us more understanding of what opportunities would give them the greatest advantages in the future.
It was from these learnings that proper commercialisation tools became recognised within LiveOrbis. From these tools, it became clearer what was important and what wasn’t, as businesses across Queensland all compete for their piece of the industry in which they service.
Since receiving Ignite Ideas funding there has been ongoing employment at LiveOrbis. The funding has helped our technology enter the lives of thousands of people across Queensland and allowed us to introduce AR to various industries.
Why are grants such as the Ignite Ideas Fund important for regional innovators/businesses?
Being based so remotely, it’s very hard to connect with industry stakeholders. The Ignite Ideas Fund helped significantly with this challenge.
The team were more than accommodating and the opportunities that our business would normally have struggled to be included with has helped us connect and stay connected.
Why would you recommend applying for Advance Queensland programs such as the Ignite Ideas Fund?
If anybody sees an opportunity within their business and their idea for that business, then it is a strategic advantage to become involved in the Ignite Ideas Fund. That’s what the fund is all about. It’s about commercialising your product and taking the product to market in the most progressive way possible.
What other support have you received from Advance Queensland or the Queensland Government?
We have been invited to attend different events and have been able to meet various industry stakeholders along our journey. We have also been able to submit applications/proposals for supporting the industry, where previously we did not know they existed.
Why is it important to support Queensland businesses, innovators and entrepreneurs?
Technology is advancing so quickly that if we are not innovating then we are continually falling behind the rest of the developing world. Queenslanders need to become adopters of technology to stay on the front foot and ahead of the game when it comes to competing on a global scale.
What’s your advice for other entrepreneurs and businesses starting out on their innovation journey?
Don’t give up. It’s a long road ahead, and sometimes it may seem too hard to manage. Don’t give up.
Learn more about the Ignite Ideas Fund including eligibility and how to apply by visiting the webpage.