Andrew Agus, PTALA’s Chief Creative Officer who spearheaded the development of the experience, explains Augmented Reality as “digital content fused with reality.” When both reality and the digital content are compelling, Andrew says the results are outstanding. In this instance, PTALA’s app takes seminal moments from Union Station’s past and allows history to come alive by utilizing photo and visual triggers to begin playback of digital content, such as the 1953 train crash at Union Station. PTALA sourced Helsinki-based Arilyn to lend their cloud-based AR platform for a custom application. PTALA turned to LA-based screenwriter Jesse Lumen to study Union Station’s past and create a script that stayed true to history.
Recreating the 1953 Federal Locomotive crash at Union Station, for instance, was particularly challenging. “We didn’t have digital models of 1953 Federal trains just lying around,” said Andrew. “We had to painstakingly create digital 3D models off grainy black and white photographs, and then animate those 3D models in a realistic way. And then, we had to enable these historical digital experiences to fuse with the current Union Station that a visitor sees.”
Andrew also hinted at PTALA’s future AR projects, and mentioned that one such project “is so large in scope that it could scale worldwide to over 100 countries by mid 2017.”
PTALA also oversaw the introduction of a total of 38 digital signage screens throughout Union Station’s beautiful Main Hall, Train Concourse and various levels. This, coupled with new activation areas in the station’s expansive Main Hall, create an unbelievably fertile environment for both visitors and brands to interact in an organic fashion.
PTALA works with some of the largest brands in the world on a continuing basis, including Microsoft, Qualcomm, Nestle, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and countless others, and felt the need to be responsive to the needs of clients and their ever-changing creative demands. There were immense hurdles to overcome in integrating modern displays into a multi-modal, 24-7 rail hub that services over 125,000 on a daily basis. “We are always trying to expand our capabilities of integrating brands into our properties in unique and creative ways,” says Byron Appel. “AR will be a large part of that.“
— Premier Tourist and Landmark Association, a leading branding and marketing firm, specializes in the marketing of brands within iconic venues and media assets nationwide, including Washington D.C.’s nationally renowned Union Station, Faneuil Hall Marketplace in the heart of downtown Boston, San Antonio’s unique Rivercenter on the famous Riverwalk, and Bayside Marketplace, the most visited destination in Miami. PTALA has also successfully consulted on marketing initiatives with major public-private partnerships such as the Wi-Fi network in the New York City Subway system. With a current reach in excess of one hundred fifty million people annually, PTALA continues to create conversations between relevant brands and target consumers on an immense scale.