Basalt uses ‘augmented reality’ to give summer guide pizazz |

Basalt uses ‘augmented reality’ to give summer guide pizazz

The Basalt Chamber' of Commerce boosted the printing of its Community Guide and Business Directory from 10,000 to 20,000 this summer.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times |

The Basalt Area Chamber of Commerce unveiled an eye-catching new marketing strategy over Memorial Day weekend.

The chamber’s community guide and business directory features the Layar interactive-print technology that allows images to be enhanced with digital content. In a nutshell, it makes pictures come alive with endless possibilities when scanned with a smartphone or tablet.

“We think we’re on the leading edge of this technology” among chambers of commerce in the Roaring Fork Valley, said Cole Sjoholm, president of the chamber’s board of directors. “When we discovered this technology, we completely revamped our marketing strategy.”

The chamber’s magazine has invariably featured a fishing photo, and they are always interesting images that are pleasing to the eye. But this year, the lead image in the fishing story has been embedded with additional content using Layar. A reader can scan the picture using a free application that is downloaded from Layar. Once scanned, this year’s fishing photo will provide links to fly-fishing outfitters and to lodges. Elsewhere in the magazine, an image touting Willits Town Center includes a calendar of events and a video about discovering Willits. Slideshows are often part of the mix.

There are seven images that offer the Layar technology, which the company touts as better than QR code,which provide online information when scanned with a smartphone. Sjoholm said it costs $60 per page to enable the augmented reality. He used the Layar Creator software to build the seven pages that feature content via Layar.

Sjoholm said he learned about the technology in late April after the bank where he works donated funds to the Boy Scouts. An official with the Scouts showed how donors could present information using Layar in a Boy Scout information piece.

Sjoholm scrambled to get the technology integrated into the chamber’s directory. The rest of the board of directors embraced the effort. Sjoholm scrambled to personally learn how to use the creator and prepare the seven special pages in the directory. He estimated he donated 60 to 70 hours to accomplish it.

The directory has experienced additional changes. It grew from 42 pages last year to 70 this year. Printing was doubled from 10,000 to 20,000. The guides are available throughout Basalt now and will be distributed into the summer. The directory touts all businesses, regardless of whether they are chamber members.

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