AugmenTeeShirt – Augmented Reality on T-Shirts – Interview

Now, what is it that makes your shop and products so unique?

We’ve been aware of Spreadshirt for years now, and we knew that most shops offer quite interesting designs – but we wanted to come up with something special. We wanted to create t-shirts that did not only put the person wearing it in the limelight, but become the centre of communication altogether. In other words, we were looking for ways that got people involved with the design on a t-shirt. Then came the day when we took part in a workshop on a new technology called “augmented reality”. This extended form of reality makes non-existing objects look real as they appear in the environment of real objects. The question was: could be put it on a t-shirt? By printing 3D objects on a t-shirt, we were able to shift the communicational focus to the design itself, and the person wearing it became part of the scenery. This stimulates interaction between people commenting on the design and the guy in the t-shirt, who appears in a different form of reality. A lot of people take pictures with their smartphones or camera of people wearing our t-shirt designs, because they see something else in the design than the owner of the t-shirt. It would be interesting to put both parties in a room in front of a computer at a later point in time and ask them to comment on what they see – I’m sure you’d get completely different interpretations!

If you email your pics or put them on Facebook – e.g. as your new profile picture – you can receive those different reactions first hand. It’s definitely very interesting, and we’ve only ever got positive feedback. You should check it out yourself!

Since when have you been running your shop?

The AugmenTeeShirt shop has only been around since December 2011, but it has been met with great interest already, which is obviously fantastic.

Seeing that this is really a very short time, could you describe what you did to get started, and how far you have come already?

We had a first start in March 2011 when we designed our first t-shirts. We created our first “augmented reality” designs, but unfortunately they didn’t work. Then we tried different designs, which unfortunately didn’t work either as the print never came out the way we expected it to be. So we looked into Spreadshirt’s different printing techniques and found out which one would probably work best for us, and then we had a winner. Now we always get steady and reliable results when printing our designs.

It is important that the cameras of iPhones or iPads can record the so called augmented reality marker in order to create the desired 3D effect, and this is why it is incredibly important to realise utmost precision during production. Even slight variations from the original design may prevent the iPhone/iPad camera from recognising the “marker”. What’s more, the design also needs to work in dark rooms. In order to make sure that this works as well, another few months of testing and trying went by. In November 2011 we eventually succeeded, and we got started with a new app for iPhone/iPad as well as a new Spreadshirt shop.

What did the iPhone app do for you? And what are you up to now?

The release of the iPhone app gives millions of people worldwide the opportunity to download our software to their phone, and this is what raises awareness for our shop. The first orders gave us new inspiration for further designs and products, which we are going to realise in the next couple of weeks.

What do you want to achieve with your shop – conquering the world, making a few bob or finding an outlet for creativity?

I’d say everyone knows this situation. You sit in the pub with a few mates, and at some point everyone comes up with their version of the most brilliant idea to realise a great business idea. You start fantasising, and your mates give you even more food for thought. At the end of the night you split, and you forget about your ideas. Thing is, after one of those nights we decided not to give up on what we thought was a stroke of genius, no matter how long it would take or how much money we would have to invest. We wanted to succeed even though there was reason to believe that we wouldn’t, and so we started to realise our ideas, step by step. One of us is a software programmer, the other one an artist, and the third guy comes up with great ideas. This constellation works great for us as it provides us with enough stimulus and opportunity to realise our ideas.

How do you market your shop? And do you reinvest some of the turnover into marketing?

We’ve only just got started, and we’re quite aware that we are still rather unknown to the general public. Next to the usual suspects – Facebook and Twitter – we are trying to use different marketing channels and activities to increase our online degree of familiarity.

Our budget for marketing activities is virtually non-existent. What we are currently scheming is a campaign where we are going to hit to the streets with a few crazy promotions. Basically, the idea is to make people aware of what we do by illustrating it in the pedestrian zone.

What’s your job? And could you imagine making a living on your shop?

We all have our day jobs, and we all like what we do. But of course, should the shop really kick off, then we could be convinced 🙂

What do you do with your Spreadshirt cash – is it enough to pay the rent, for cinema tickets or even for your next holiday?

It’s great, I’ve just made a down payment for a new Porsche, and the others are also quite fond of their hot wheels. Well, truth be told – it’s all just a bit of fun at the moment. We like exploring the whole process, and in particular technical opportunities. And if others like it as well, then that’s quite rewarding, actually.

Is there anything else that you would like to tell us about your shop, maybe you can impart a piece of hot news?

Oh, sure. We have a Love t-shirt in the pipeline. What’s that, you may ask. We don’t want to spill the beans just yet, but it’s going to be a t-shirt that connects boys with girls. If you look at a couple wearing our designs through the display of an iPhone, it will tell you a lot about their relationship, and you vision will enter a completely new and surreal world. So, please stay tuned and download our free app for the iPhone. We are continuously updating it!

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