“It’s a landgrab” – Finnish startup Sayduck aims for a slice of augmented reality’s new era



Augmented reality – adding content to a view of the real world – isn't exactly a new idea. Fast-forward to 2013 and it's possible we've finally hit the era where augmented reality apps actually become useful. 

"The best case scenario would be that augmented reality becomes widespread," Sayduck cofounder Mikko Martikainen said. "Something second-nature – just to point your camera and see stuff... The worst case is that people just see it as a gimmick."

His company, founded in 2012 and headquartered in Helsinki, is one of a handful using augmented reality – specifically, the ability to project potential purchases into a real world setting – to help shoppers make decisions. The giant in the room is German company Metaio, which recently announced 50,000 developers had used its platform to publish over 10,000 applications, including IKEA's new mobile toolOthers include ViewAR, which has worked with Butlers and Steinway & Sons, and smaller players Furnish (US) and Augment (based in France and now heading for the US).

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Sayduck, which won a place in Seedcamp in 2012, is still testing its products. It offers both a B2B solution – a co-branded tailored app for retailers – and a free B2C app.

The process in the B2C app is similar to that used by IKEA: download the app, print out an A4 "marker sheet" and place it on the floor. The app will use the marker to project a virtual item (see above). The shopper can change colours and fabric options if available, check out prices and click through to buy.

The company has worked with about 20 brands, including some private trials. The focus so far is on small brands, though, Martikainen said, the team is now ready to target more high-volume clients. While Sayduck's five-person development team is based in Finland, the company also has a sales agent in four other countries – the UK, Italy, New Zealand and Brazil – and a relationship with Singapore incubator Incubasia Ventures. "It's a bit of a land grab at the moment so we try to be as active as possible around the world," Martikainen said. 

How does Sayduck hope to stand out? Image quality, making it as easy to use for shoppers as possible and – wisely, in an industry yet to hit the mainstream – not talking up the tech too much. "We don't even like the term augmented reality", Martikainen admitted. "We focus on the benefits and the experience more than the technology."


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