Hamilton mayoralty candidate Angela O'Leary is taking her election campaign into augmented reality (AR), in what she says is a first for New Zealand politics.

With augmented reality the user becomes part of the online experience — think Pokémon GO craze and Snapchat. For users it combines their real world with an augmented world.
People will see logos to scan in her campaign publicity.

Ms O'Leary said she has been an early adopter in using new technology to help get the public involved with council, and she moved to having the council meetings live streamed.

"I'm all for anything that engages people with council. More is good for me," Ms O'Leary said.


"I haven't played Pokémon GO before, but I had a brief look at it and enjoyed it so it made sense to me to try this and use this as a game changer in politics."

Ms O'Leary said the use of augmented reality will be more targeted at youth voters, who like to be more hands-on. in the last Hamilton elections voter turnout was just 33.6 and this year candidates are aiming to boost that.

In an unofficial, unscientific poll on the Hamilton News Facebook page last week, 83 per cent of people said they would vote at this year's elections.

"They will know what to do [with the logos] and it will be amazing to get more younger people involved," she says.

The mayoral AR campaign idea was developed by Waikato-based technology company Yellow Wood.

Director Paddy Ward says his company is at the leading edge of augmented reality.

"To enter the augmented reality world the user has to download a free app called Zappar onto their phone or tablet from their regular app store," says Mr Ward."

"If they open the app and point it at a clearly marked code on O'Leary's election signs, flyers or any of her campaign material, they will enter a new world. From there they become part of the augmented world and can choose what they want to do in that world."


Ms O'Leary says the level of interaction will be limitless.

"This is not just another YouTube or Twitter or website like everybody else is using. We've already come up with some great ideas but I'm not going to give them away here — people will have to check them out for themselves to get the full experience," she said.

Ms O'Leary told Hamilton News that residents will be able to interact with her in the augmented reality world around Hamilton, taking selfies and more.

"This is going to be as much an experiment for me and the team as it is for the people who choose to download the Zappar app and participate," she said.

"However, from what I've seen of its capabilities we are all in for a big surprise.

"I guess the proof will be in how well we can make it work and how many people choose to check it out and use it."