Rob Thomas, an independent candidate for Auckland Council in New Zealand, is engaging with voters through an innovative virtual campaign.
People can now use their smartphones to view an animated version of Rob’s campaign material using an app called Layar, allowing a static image of Thomas to come to life with a short message for voters.
“These are the first talking billboards in the world, all you have to do is point your phone and watch the billboard come alive – it’s freaky," Thomas says.
“For the last five months I have been door knocking local residents across the inner-city.
"Each week I’ll post up an interactive new video on issues facing ordinary Auckland’s living in the inner-city.”
Thomas says he will change the video every week so people can regularly see a different message.
The technology is integrated across all the campaign material- billboards, printed advertisements and tee shirts can all be bought to life using a smartphone.
"New technology allows politicians to interact with the electorate like never before," Thomas says.
"Now people can see me explain my position on local issues using only their phones."
Thomas’s campaign has utilised technology from its outset, with the campaigner placing bikes around the central city with a QR code to contact the team and unlock them for free use.
The bicycles combine two of Thomas’s key policies; improved cycling routes and ensuring Auckland remains a centre for technical innovation in New Zealand.
The campaign's Digital Director, Greig Strafford explains why Layar was used as the AR provider: "AR is the bridge between the physical and digital world.
"It allows physical objects to be overlaid with digital content and increases engagement with the viewer.
"On a limited budget, Layar gave us an opportunity to engage with the electorate and, with it's penetration into the smartphone market, we knew it would be effective."
In 2010, Thomas launched a Bluetooth Billbaord which allowed local residents to download digitial contect, he says “supporting Auckland’s growing tech industry is important and I’m thrilled we can showcase this to the world.”
Thomas went on to say that the potential use for this technology would allow your smartphone to take you on guided historic walk around the city centre – bringing Auckland’s history alive.