We talked to Fabian Mrongowius, creative producer, and Jennie Eliasson, Marketing intern at Zaubar, about time travel and this is what they said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jennie Eliasson: Luckily we are all healthy, and Berlin is doing quite ok after some hard lockdown measures. Our team managed quickly to adapt to the new work situation with remote work tools – we are happy to meet on video calls and drink virtual coffees like everyone I guess. Our producer Fabian even invented his online game show during lockdown – so yeah I would say we are doing pretty good – and best of all for us: it is time for virtual formats and AR!
Tell us about you, your career, and how you joined Zaubar.
Jennie Eliasson: We are ZAUBAR, a start-up based in Berlin – And we aim to do nothing less than to revolutionize the tourism and education industry with AR and AI technology. Our founders Stefan and Anne-Sophie have entrepreneurial and journalistic backgrounds and they were thinking of new ways to tell stories for younger and more engaged audiences. We started with transforming historical photos into 3D experiences – right at the place of interest – to imitate the feeling of time travel. So our core business is immersive tours, and then we started creating the world’s first AR content management system which now turned into a whole software as a service thought. Yet we are still keen on telling the most wonderful stories – and we are curious about wild and exciting projects.
The latest example is the project DIE BEFREIUNG in cooperation with the Bayerischer Rundfunk broadcasting service and the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site. The liberation of the concentration camp’s 75th anniversary, photos, diary entries, and memories of eyewitnesses were combined to witness a moment of history. We were very proud to win quite a few prizes – and above all of course to see that our idea blossomed and more and more people used our app to learn about history.
How does Zaubar innovate?
Fabian Mrongowius: We started creating immersive tours by placing historic pictures exactly where they were taken years ago – to tell iconic moments and history, in combination with 3D objects, sound, and video. To make that sound fancy, we started calling it time travel – of course. Next up, we started building an AR content management system for everyone to use. So in short, we enable media, publishing houses, and tour guides to unleash their specific content as social, playful, and educational experiences – and you can even earn money with it! The option to give the possibility for tour guides and museums to sell their tours at their price – that was the missing use case.
Paired with videos, sound, and the “mixie” function, we create a truly immersive experience and all content can of course be experienced without an app, regardless of location. As an all-in-one platform, are we providing a package of services for educational and entertainment purposes? For companies, we serve as software as a service by supporting them to fast and easily create guided or self-guided social, insightful, and immersive tours for their visitor in powerful augmented reality. From the users’ side, are we enabling them to travel back in time and live through historical moments just as it happened right now, via their phone or iPad.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Fabian Mrongowius: Our business is now focused on developing an alternative to all kinds of physical tours by our live streaming platform. We are thankful for this being the best time to innovate new formats, and luckily people have been given the time to reflect while being in the home office and a lot of companies are reflecting on further solutions and alternatives, as digital tours, streaming, and virtual tours and they are demanding innovative formats which we are now able to offer.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Fabian Mrongowius: A difficult choice was to put even more budget and time into innovation – after so much time in already working on getting your app out on the streets. But we thought that it would be right to move the focus from guided tours and tourism to live streaming, virtual tours, storytelling, and at-Home AR experiences. But it returned as great results- as for now, we are testing and further developing our apps for streaming and browser-based tours with our clients and partners. We even created our AR office tour which was a hell of fun!
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Fabian Mrongowius: Currently, during the lockdown and home office are team members collaborating and communicating with help of Slack, Asana, Google Drive, and Loom. Besides that, we love our team and we love online quiz shows 🙂 but It’s really sad that we’re not able to work together as much these times. We are digital nomads so remote work has always been natural for us, we are communicative, cosmopolitan and since Berlin is a vibrant city with so many characters, managing remote work is very important, and communication is key!
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Fabian Mrongowius: Our competitors are everyone who offers an immersive more engaged storytelling or experience. But of course in particular it is attractions and tours offered by traditional museums, guided walking tours as escape rooms, as well as the digital guide apps providing self-guided audio or text, and XR tours. While they supply alternatives they are also variously restricted, ZAUBAR in comparison, unblocking both the scaleable and immersive possibilities with our augmented reality content! This allows us to offer magical tours that are limitless in terms of both time and space and that is how we will stay in the game.
I think our time is yet to come and augmented reality and historic tours will be the future thanks to upcoming technology like 5g, VPS, headsets, and even more development in tech. We are super excited.
Your final thoughts?
Fabian Mrongowius: Meet us in the future and check out our new website.