Skidattl’s augmented reality beacons ‘are like a Bat signal for fun’ • TechCrunch
Skidattl want to use augmented reality to get people to interact with the real world. It’s a story we’ve heard before from AR companies, especially as they fend for themselves against the potentially isolating effects of virtual reality. But instead of chasing unruly Pokemon creatures on the streets, Skidattl aims to use AR “beacons” to show people what’s going on around them.
Randy Marsden, co-founder of Skidattl, said they will be like “a signal Bat for fun” when the app launches.
Anyone can create a beacon and anyone can see them. Businesses can set up beacons, which have a one-hour lifespan, to advertise a two-for-one coffee sale, movie time, or opening bowling alleys. People can shoot out a lighthouse at a music festival to help friends find them in the crowd. All a user has to do, says Marsden, is to scan the horizon with their phone or eventually with AR glasses to see a series of beacons at up to 100 meters away.
When Skidattl showed off as part of the Battlefield 200 at TC Disrupt last week, the company placed an AR beacon on its booth to demonstrate what it looked like.
“Of course, you can look at the map and say, ‘What’s near me?’ But this pulls you back into the real world.” Marsden told TechCrunch, noting that he’s an Apple alumnus and a two-time TechCrunch Battlefield finalist for the previous companies Swype (technically TC50) and Dryft (Breaking SF 2013).
Skidattl AR beacons will be anchored to real-world GPS coordinates. To determine the user’s location in relation to that beacon, Skidattl uses Google’s ARCore Geospatial API, based on Street View data.
“When you launch the app, it tells you to scan the buildings across the street, and within seconds, it knows where you are,” says Marsden. “And then those lighthouses were anchored; they don’t move around. “
When people want to set up indoor signaling, Skidattl will also use WiFi signals to help locate users relative to the locations of those beacons.
Skidattl is still in the angel funding and alpha tech stages, but the startup hopes to reach the market with a freemium business model – meaning it will be free to use but Skidattl could Earn through paid subscriptions, in-app purchases and affiliate commissions.
Like any new social media app, Skidattl will have to battle the chicken-and-egg problem – no one will want to use it without a lot of beacons lit, but not with any. which signal is lit without the user using the application.
“I think we can start the business pretty easily by giving them a free beacon,” says Marsden. “On the client side, ask YouTube and TikTok influencers to talk about it, place ads with TechCrunch and the like. And then when we have someone in the app, we can give them an incentive to share with their contacts. (It goes without saying, but TechCrunch’s ad sales are completely separate from editorial.)
Skidattl is currently trying to raise $500,000 to complete the minimum viable product and get the funds needed to officially launch its app at South by Southwest in March, Marsden said.