- Two tech-savvy youth are gradually taking Kenyans through the magic of Augmented Reality, an innovation that transforms everyday experiences of the real world.
- Dorothy Orina and Eric Mwenda say with e-commerce space expanding, Augmented Reality will play a more prominent role.
- To achieve their dream, the duo established a firm known as ipop in January 2021 to help consumers get better customer and user experience.
Two tech-savvy youth are gradually taking Kenyans through the magic of Augmented Reality, an innovation that transforms everyday experiences of the real world.
Dorothy Orina and Eric Mwenda say with e-commerce space expanding, Augmented Reality will play a more prominent role. To achieve their dream, the duo established a firm known as ipop in January 2021 to help consumers get better customer and user experience.
Ms Orina 21, a mechatronic engineering graduate and Ms Mwenda 23 who studied computer science, at Dedan Kimathi University used Sh100,000 to establish an application and set up secure cloud storage.
The duo came up with mobile applications which harness the power of Augmented Reality to enhance the physical world through use of digital visual elements, from sounds, and other sensory stimuli.
Their objective is to enhance visualisation by creating an immersive experience which improves customer experience and retention of information.
One of the apps the firm has is AR Edu meant to augment the current competency based curriculum (CBC).
“Here the app presents the learners with an interactive learning platform where 3D models of the items being studied are projected in their environment through a smartphone or tablet. Here the learners are able to rotate and bisect the models to have different views,” Ms Orina explains.
The firm seeks to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems in an interactive and enjoyable manner.
“The Augmented Reality market share is at $120 billion and surprisingly it hasn't been explored in the e-commerce sector in Kenya,” Ms Orina says.
According to augmented reality statistics for 2021, consumer spending on AR/VR is forecast to account for a 37.4percent share of the global augmented reality market.
Through their AR Edu innovation, ipop is helping schools embrace the interactive nature of the CBC curriculum in an affordable, immersive and enjoyable way.
“When one opens the application, they are able to choose a subject for study. The app uses the phone’s camera feature to show a particular item as if it were actually in one’s physical environment. You can zoom the item, bisect it, rotate it and move it around,” Ms Orina says.
“We are in the future, and there’s no going back!”.
Ms Orina says the app will allow students to perform experiments virtually and get the same results as they would in a physical lab.
“They can also do the experiment over and over again which may be impossible in a physical lab due to inadequate resources,” she says.
The second product the firm has on offer is PopIt that allows customers to virtually test out products before purchasing them.
“Once the app is launched and a customer has selected what he or she would love to purchase, they are able to virtually place that product in their home space and see how it would look like in their home and if it would fit in the space they have, rather than purchasing and then having to return the products to the seller,” Mr Mwenda explains.
The third product is TryOn where users can virtually test how they would look in different wearables such as bangles, watches, necklaces, earrings, and spectacles.
The firm has a subscription revenue model for all their applications.
AR Edu targets educational facilities, schools, pupils and students, while PopIt targets e-commerce businesses, furniture stores, interior designers.
TryOn targets e-commerce, fashion design, and optics.
The firm has three employees who help in engineering and development of the applications.
The firm says one of the biggest challenges is getting people with the right skills to hire.
“Getting the right people who share our values and have valuable skill levels has been one of our greatest challenges,” Ms Orina attests.
Raising funds has also not been easy.
“We’ve had to do a lot of convincing to investors and we’ve learned through the process. Some investors wish to take up a lot more equity in the firm than we are willing to give and we have had to turn them down,” she says.
Their dream is to expand across borders.
“We plan to expand in future to be an international brand in Augmented and Virtual Reality first in East Africa then to the rest of the world,” Ms Orina says.
“We also plan to incorporate more of Artificial Intelligence in our application to enable body tracking which would allow consumers to try out products such as clothes and shoes which resize and fit according to a person’s body.”