Akron Companies Team Up to Create an Augmented Reality Experience for 2020 Grads

Girl using VR

How S3 Technologies and New Territory are helping graduating seniors celebrate virtually

Graduates of the class of 2020 are having a unique final year of school. Not only are they finishing the school year outside of the classroom, but the expected traditions that mark the end of the year seem less and less possible. And while no company can return these seniors’ years to normalcy, a pair of Akron-based partners have created a way to give students a virtual celebration fitting in this time of social distancing. Northeast Ohio’s S3 Technologies and New Territory have partnered to create an augmented reality Snapchat filter that gives the user a graduation cap and tassel, along with their school’s logo. The idea is to make lasting graduation day memories from afar. Now that the experience has launched, any school can get in touch with the companies and have a custom version built in just a few days.

“We thought there would be no better way to do that than by using an application that was on students’ smart devices already,” said New Territory founder and CEO Bill Myers. “It’s really fun to use. The hat connects perfectly to the top of your head, the tassel moves along with you and you can move it from one side to the other to indicate you’ve graduated. We created an experience that captures this monumental moment for the graduating class of 2020. I think this filter is something young people will reference for years to come. It may only last a few months, but the photos and videos will be stored for years to come and really be a keepsake from these strange times.”

Augmented reality is a staple of New Territory’s offerings. Along with their virtual arcade, eSports and virtual reality offerings, the company creates AR experiences that transport users to another place. But for S3 Technologies, known for solving business challenges through technology, AR serves as the next frontier and an important step forward.

“Augmented reality is a game-changer; it’s going to change how we service clients and experience everyday life,” said S3 founder and COO Chris Larker. “It’s being adopted so quickly, and I see it taking our company to the next level by being able to embed this tech as a layer of what we do to create efficiencies. Take our service department — our ability to go out and fix a piece of hardware in the field. Through augmented reality, we’ll be able to let someone look at pull up manuals and diagrams while they look at a piece of equipment. It brings down the barrier of entry to a new employee. They can learn much quicker through augmented reality.”

The partnership between the two organizations showcases the power of northeast Ohio’s entrepreneurial scene. New Territory is a relatively new startup with a focus on cutting-edge tech, while S3 has been around for a decade, working with existing technologies in the security, audio-visual, and network arenas. But by combining their expertise, the two companies are able to push Akron toward the future of job creation and technology while maintaining firm footing in today’s industries.

“Northeast Ohio has all the capabilities to do what Silicon Valley or the coasts can do,” said Larker. “We have the right frame of mind and we’re a great tech sector. The way we think has changed. We’re not just old-school manufacturing, we’re a high-tech production region with great universities and an amazing group of young workers who will change the world through technology. We want to embrace that and keep as much of that here in Ohio as we can.”

That drive to create has powered Ohio throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as organizations all across the state are creating solutions to problems, new experiences and game-changing innovations. For Myers, that’s no surprise. He said organizations like Bounce Innovation Hub, which houses New Territory, are providing Ohio companies with the resources to thrive, even during the pandemic.

“I’m really proud of the way Ohio companies have stepped up during COVID-19,” he said. “Take Bounce for example — they have so many resources available to the tenants of the building and turned their whole maker space into a facility where personal protective equipment could be created. There are community members willing to drop everything and go create to help hospitals have the equipment they needed to do their jobs. I’m really glad to have picked northeast Ohio to start our business.”

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