Packaging to win

Think about the last time you visited a supermarket and stood in front of the milk section. Which of the products stood out for you? Did you give it much thought? There isn’t much price differentiation when it comes to largely homogeneous product categories like milk, where prices tend to vary by cents, rather than dollars (generally).

Now, imagine if you could use an application on your mobile device (conveniently located in your pocket) to scan a barcode and find out more about where your milk came from, some recipes from milk, or if there’s any special offers – customized to your requirements?

 

Packaging, more importantly, innovation in packaging has become very impactful as brands look to stand out in the clutter of modern day supermarkets. Similarly, attractive tap handle design at bars have shown to increase the likelihood of a patron selecting a particular beverage, even if only as a talking point for the evening.

In the world of fast moving consumer goods, where brands fight tooth and nail to stand out amongst the clutter, it’s not uncommon to find companies investing in merchandizing, ranging from attractive advertising banners to company representatives offering free samples. But merchandize can get damaged, staff need to be managed and surely, in 2017, there’s a better way?

 

Augmented Reality in packaging

In recent times, as consumers have become increasingly dependent on their mobile devices for reference, and in a world where every brand has released a mobile application in the interest of procuring data about their loyal users – there is a growing trend towards adoption of Augmented Reality as a tool to connect the physical (the product) and the digital (an experience about the brand) – turning packaging into a “multidimensional communication vehicle”.

Research from Deloitte showed that mobile is driving the convergence of consumer and shopper behavior and expectations, with more than one-third (34 percent) saying they use a smartphone to help choose brands during a shopping trip.

AR has proven to be a cost- & resource-efficient way to drive sales, and here are three key ways AR can help the packaging industry;

1 A dynamic marketing tool; Immersive experiences

For AR to work, a user downloads an application as directed and points the camera at the ‘target area’ on the packaging. The similarity of this function to taking a photo ensures that it’s not difficult for users to adopt and experiment. The target area can be anything on the packaging – a logo, a picture, a special creative or the entire packaging as well.

With a successful scan, an ‘experience’ plays – which can be a special deal for the user or any other communication. The ideal, naturally, is a message to encourage a purchase decision immediately.

Yasushi Kusume, innovation and creative manager for IKEA highlights three key goals of product packaging;

  1. It needs to stand out and grab the audience’s attention.
  2. It should encourage a purchase by conveying a unique and relevant value proposition.
  3. It should fit with your brand’s positioning and remain authentic to your overall stance.

 

AR has the capability to achieve all three goals, and much more.

Click here to know more about how Augmented Reality works

Click here to know the difference between AR, VR and MR 

 

2 “Hidden” communication to supplement packaging

A dichotomy in the packaging industry comes to the fore as brands are torn between a desire for minimalist design and impactful copy (to cater to the short span of human attention) and an awareness that purchase decisions are largely driven by reasonable amounts of information.

As such, AR enables brands to share “more info” on products, no longer restricted by the physical real estate of packaging.

Some examples of information that can be shared;

  • Allergy alerts (customized to the user’s account)
  • Sources of production
  • Recipe ideas
  • Any further collateral being used by the brand
  • Cross-promotions with other products under an umbrella brand

3 Additional touch point: Customized communication

Moreover, experiences can be customized, and data accumulated about users – thanks to existing tracking such as barcodes, QR codes and other unique IDs. Alexandre Carvalho, of Tetra Pak shared the following insight in the Tetra Pak 2017 Index;

“We sell, globally, a year, 108 billion units of products. So can you imagine if every single unit has a unique ID and you can use this to interact with consumers and gather data? And this is already happening,”

At Appearition, we have worked with clients in the packaging industry, and would be more than happy to share what we have learnt along the way. Here’s a quick sample of our work;

 

At Appearition, our Research and Development team is actively working towards improving our understanding of how these technologies can work to benefit your business. Contact us to find out more.

 

Source

Blockchain: The Evolution of Exchange

The foundations of economics are built on the fact that humans have traded goods and services since the dawn of time. Trading of goods for consumption and services for functionality were the basis for this trade between humans and as time passed, between nations and organizations as well. As such, there was a need for centralized bodies to facilitate and moderate these trades.

“Institutions have been devised by human beings to create order and reduce uncertainty in exchange.”
Douglas North

How does Blockchain fit into this evolution?

Predictably – while institutions were built to reduce uncertainty, as they have grown larger and larger, they have also attracted increased levels of weariness from consumers. Questions like “why are my fees so high?” or “where does this percentage go?” start to prop up.

“The first generation of the digital revolution brought us the Internet of Information. The second generation—powered by blockchain technology—is bringing us the Internet of Value.”
The Blockchain Research Institute

Enter, Blockchain – a peer to peer method of managing records of transactions that enables consumers to conduct trade directly, without having to be dependent on systems such as legal tender or pay institutional fees.

So what is Blockchain exactly?

Essentially, Blockchain is a series of records (known as blocks) each connected to the previous starting from a “genesis block”. These blocks are connected through a process called hashing. These records exist in a decentralized network made secure through cryptography – in the form of one “common trusted ledger” – or “distributed ledger technology”.

Check out this TED Talk by Bettina Warburg

We’ll be posting another article next week regarding blockchain – make sure you like our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to keep up to date. Alternatively, contact us to find out more.

 

 

Daigou Relationships

Daigou relationships have become very popular over the last few years. More and more Chinese natives are seeking to purchase high quality products from overseas to provide a better quality of life for them back home. With increasing news about food safety and tainted baby formula disaster of 2008, (x) many Chinese natives are left to seek real and genuine products from overseas. (x) There is a market worth $AU10.5B globally in 2016, according to Bain & Company. (x)

daigou, customer relationships

What is a daigou relationship?

The expectation of a daigou relationship is to “buy on behalf of” someone else,(x) usually a someone overseas who buys things for residents in mainland China, and is a channel of commerce between mainland Chinese buyers and overseas shoppers. Daigou’s are often unauthorised purchasers. They are often family, friends or agents who either bring the products back to China, or courier them via post.

With many retailers and pharmacies wiped clean of infant formula and vitamins, it also puts a strain on our local economy. There has been an increase of daigou relationships with courier services like ChangJiang Express. These services pop up to ease the shipping process of Australian made goods. (x)

daigou, customer relationships

This market is also widely available as a result of WeChat eCommerce, where there is strong use of QR codes to make purchases. These QR codes also facilitate ease of trading between different agents and buyers. One of the most popular daigou products is infant formula, vitamins, and other high quality Australia-made products, often leaving Australian shelves absolutely cleared out.

daigou, customer relationships

Unfortunately, the Chinese government has tightened controls on these imports from “daigou.” This is to protect local retailers by levying import taxes between 15-60% on food and consumer goods (in particular infant formula, vitamins and cosmetics) sent via mail or couriers. (x)

At the end of the day, it’s about forming relationships with customers abroad. These customers need to trust daigou’s to buy genuine products in Australia. It’s imperative with the restrictions on the amount of products that may be purchased in various retailers. It requires a strong relationship between the customer, the daigou, and their trusted retailers, where they ultimately source their Australian goods.

The future of the print industry: Linking the Physical and the Digital

 

The world is sitting on the cusp of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) – changing how industries operate, bringing greater automation and accuracy to a variety of business processes.

 

In this series, we will explore how 4IR is going to affect the industries of our clients, and how we believe the right strategy can empower you to embrace the inevitable.

 

First up: The future of the print industry.

 

Forbes article: Why everyone must get ready for the 4th Industrial Revolution

 

 

Print article image 3

 

 How is the future of the print industry turning into a reality around you?

 

In the last few years, we have seen a proliferation of small and start up label printers leading to increased competition. Good digital presses cost little more than US$45,000 – not a laughable sum, but certainly more than affordable for entrepreneurs with the right idea.

 

Meanwhile in emerging regions, larger multinational corporations are expanding operations and establishing themselves as they navigate the pricing politics of new territories.

 

The LaManna Alliance projects that “In 2017, you should be pushing 20-30% growth rate. Otherwise, you’re lagging.”

 

We recently visited PacPrint 2017, the region’s “premier show for print, sign, display and graphic communications” and with over 150 exhibitors and a rumored 15-20 million dollars in sales taking place on the event floor, it’s understandable that key players in the industry are looking to shake things up and keep this momentum going.

Quick Link: Our CEO, Vivek Aiyer, recently spoke of trust and the Designer Enterprise

 

What are some challenges faced by the industry given this success?

Print article image 2

How can the future of the print industry be populated with millennials Generation Y and eventually, Generation Z?

Ageing workforce: The growth of the digital industry has meant that younger, computer-literate and tech-savvy employees have been more inclined towards seeking employment outside the print industry.

Companies are increasingly realizing the need to standardize onto the one platform helps with strategic alignment across business systems and broader business processes.

Standardization, Centralization & Flexibility: Most companies in this space have different systems and machines through acquisitions or then, as with most large organizations, inherited implementations of legacy software. These, in turn lead to errors in compliance, alignment, downtime and ultimately, inefficiencies.

How can we prepare audiences for these technologies, bearing in mind that innovation doesn’t always come cheap?

Active & Intelligent Packaging (A&IP): When it comes to product security, authentication and even preservation to some extent, A&IP will grow increasingly commonplace around us. It certainly seems like these technologies for a part of the future of the print industry.

Clients now require “relationships” with “partners” – as compared to “services” from “suppliers – and this is unavoidable!

The vendor/client relationship: Clients of all sizes are becoming increasingly demanding of one-on-one service. The fact of the matter is that there are a number of players who can top quality service, and price competition isn’t the only factor anymore.

 

Previous post: Customer Experience is all about Managing Relationships

Previous post: Culture of Trust – How does your customer feel?

 

How does a digital transformation lead to the future of the print industry?

Tech-driven process/information management & workflow tools

Have systems set up for verification of jobs, improved reporting and integrated with management tools. Enable remote access of presses – improving efficiency as the press process becomes more computerized. Tech processes can also improve internal processes and stock ordering and tracking. Clients (or Partners) with their increased expectations can now be empowered to track their orders through all stages of production.

 

Customer/Client/Partner engagement & New business

Technology proliferation has led to a variety of methods to increase and improve engagement. For example, QR codes, NFC, RFID, Augmented Reality and randomized designs. Understanding how these technologies serve well as data collection points and having them integrated into information managements systems help track interaction and build insight. In addition, improved traceability and big data enable the client relationship evolve into one of consulting – and partnering for growth and offering unique and individualized experiences.

 

Print article image 5

 

“Labelprinter 4.0” – Digital transformation & change management 

 

On the outset – it all seems tremendously exciting and simple. But that is the fallacy of innovation. Installing systems doesn’t just mean clicking one button – it includes change management. Upgrading machinery isn’t just reinstalling software – sometimes it’s training staff who are afraid of failing (or trying). Terms like myopia and pain avoidance are a lot more real than the buzzwords they are dismissed to be sometimes.

 

Opportunities like bundling print and digital ad sales to push greater RoI sounds great, but how does that mean the adsales team needs to be re-structured? For example, having a sales team that also possesses analytical skills and understands programmatic sales becomes critical. In such scenarios – if that’s the preferred mode of linking digital to physical – then print companies must understand marketing requirements, more so than before – as these multimedia experiences reach out to audiences with more targeted accuracy than ever before.

 

 How can we help?

 

Innovation is no longer “nice-to-have” but that’s not to say it’s something to jump into. The key remains identifying a larger strategy that can assist with the growth of the clients you work with. Adding value to the labels and packaging produced, but also understanding how these products are being disbursed and the user experience of the final consumer.

 

At Appearition, we understand that the print industry has traditionally operated within certain models – for example, buying hardware outright or leasing systems for slow and steady returns. Crossing the chasm of technology is one that isn’t so simple. Our goal is to enable others success – and finding the neutral state of partnership so we can all grow together. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

Customer Experience Management is About Building Relationships

In its most apt definition, “experience” is about the process of living through an event. Customer Experience Management is a much touted word which spells variations ranging from “excite the customer” to “retain the customer”. Between this continuum, is a process, a set of events that a customer goes through which defines his or her “experience” is.

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 10.18.04 pm

Customer Experience Management is the close alignment of  processes which ensures sales and marketing teams support their rhetorics and deliver organisational results. A customer experience builds from the first cold-call or meeting and lasts for infinitum. Here is where relationships become the core of the experience. Relationships build trust and provide customers with confidence.

So, it’s not always about the product or service? The simple answer is No. While a company will be cooking up cool products and services with a “wow factor”, conversation of a wow to a purchase order is a completely different challenge. I have seen umpteen companies selling average looking mediocre products, but have been crafted by listening intently to customers over a period of time. In almost all instances, the customer bought the “experience” and not the product.

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 10.18.31 pm

I have also heard success stories from my peers and ex-colleagues on how they have pursued building stronger relationships with customers who did not buy their products than the ones who actually did, to succeed in the long run.

Customers are humans and like having trusted individuals around them.  Organisations need to build the “wows” in their relationships, engagements and customer experience management models to succeed in todays world. Products and services will come and go. What will stay ad infinitum will be relationships.

 

Girish Gopalakrishnan heads Delivery for Appeariton Pty limited. He can be reached on girish.gopalakrishnan@appearition.com

Appearition is a frontier technology company with focus on AR and VR applications. Headquartered in Melbourne (Australia) with offices in Portland (USA), Chennai and Pune (India). If you would like to find out more about augmented reality, contact us here.

If it keeps on rainin, the levee’s gonna break.

It is common knowledge that as technology evolves, individuals are becoming more informed and driven to create content aligned to their passions. Think about the content you are seeing in your social feeds – your colleague’s oddball memes, Aunt Sue with puppy’s ears and your old school mate Trevor Lam and his latest “work of art” – everyone around us is getting more and more able to express their creativity and publish it too. Facebook Augmented Reality (AR) is going to allow people to express themselves a whole lot more.

 

Give everyone the power to share anything with anyone.

– Mark Zuckerberg

 

What is F8 – and why should you care?

The Facebook Developers conference (F8) was first hosted in 2007 – where the team at FB presented the social graph – or a rendition of the concept of a social network. Subsequent editions of F8 hosted similarly theoretical principles behind the evolution of the behemoth that FB is today. Essentially, this is the conference where they announce their next plans, and given how integrated FB is in our lives today – you might want to be aware of what’s ahead.

 

F8 2017: Facebook Augmented Reality

Earlier this week, at F8 2017, Mark Zuckerberg (Zuck!) shared an update on the next phase of FB’s 10-year product plan, originally shared in at F8 2016. Commencing with some warm up jokes about the release of Fast and the Furious 8 (the “other” F8 ) this week, Zuck proceeded to give us a snapshot of how FB plans to integrate AR into camera functions in their apps.

 

Click to read: Business Insider’s article on the release of the FB 10-year plan

Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote from Day 1 of F8

 

FB, AR & Cameras – how do they come together?

In recent times, the FB family of apps (FB, Messenger, Instagram & Whatsapp) have seen the integration of camera icons across the board – enabling functions such as video conferencing. While these changes have gone unnoticed by some, it is estimated that the FB messenger app has 1.2 billion monthly users.

 

Facebook-Messenger-Video-Calling

FB Messenger with camera Icon (Source: Forbes)

Click to read: Forbes article on Facebook Messenger passing 1.2 billion users

 

And how does AR fit into this equation?

Zuck went on to share a common understanding that AR is essentially used for three key purposes;

  • The overlay of data onto the physical reality around us – such as messages or information
  • The ability to add digital objects into our surroundings – like a virtual television or gaming avatars
  • Enhancements to physical objects around us – like buildings or human faces.

Facebook Augmented Reality will work by aggregating these tools – the cameras within FB apps will allow users to create AR “experiences” – and they will seem quite familiar once you see them. AR is not rare – we’ve all seen it in one form or the other – quite possibly most recently in the form of Pokemon Go.

Now, we all know that Pokemon Go was a huge driver in bringing AR to the mainstream – even if it was little more than a temporary fad for most. You’ve also undoubtedly heard us go on about how the popularity of the game was influential in the voluminous cash injection industry players received in 2016. But this could very well be, to quote Led Zeppelin, when the levee’s gonna break.

 

Where might you have seen AR in action?

Some use cases we’ve found interesting

 

So how does it all work exactly? (A splash of technical jargon)

This vision comes to life with the incorporation of some technological building blocks;

  • Simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) – a technique borrowed from Artificial intelligence – enabling users to integrate digital elements into the reality in front of them
  • 3D effects – capturing and interacting with scenes that you can explore and effects that you can adjust
  • Object recognition – technology that can identify items around you, that can then be targets for the overlay of digital content

 

What about Virtual Reality?

AR and Virtual Reality align quite well, and in that vein, FB is launching a platform called Facebook spaces – where you can interact with people in a virtual environment through the Oculus Rift.

 

Facebook spaces (from F8 2017)

Meanwhile, we’ve been doing our own experiments with the Rift too!

image1 (1)

 

 

Early days in terms of adoption – and the plan for an open platform

Zuck reiterated a key message around AR: It is yet in a rudimentary phase of development – and most of the use cases around us are still evolving too. Don’t expect the world to change overnight.

That being said, in offering an open platform and leveraging the huge universe that lives on FB – users will be able to create AR experiences on their own, and share them online. In doing so, new users will have access to parallel creations by fellow users from around the internet.

This spike in available content will invariably help everyone around us find AR experiences that fit their fancy – especially if this punt from FB is a good one – and at Appearition, we certainly believe Facebook Augmented Reality is going to be something special for all of us.

 

The Magic that is AR – QnA with Tomi T Ahonen

Over the past few years – you would have heard us refer to Tomi T Ahonen – a thought leader in the tech space with a distinct passion for AR and author of 12 books on mobile. We are delighted to share a brief QnA that Tomi was kind enough to do with us – 5 questions, 5 minutes (and a bit) – Enjoy!
 
1. How do you think augmented reality/virtual reality industry has evolved over the past 5 years and where would you like to see the industry in the next 5 years? 
 
AR is in an exploratory phase right now. The things that made Pokemon Go such a big hit last year, the individual elements had all been done already before, only Nintendo and Niantic managed to put in the ‘right mix’ of the right elements. But I do believe the future of AR will have us looking at Pokemon Go of 2016 as the ‘early dawn’ and the service be to the industry similar to what MySpace was to social media before Facebook. An initial successful ‘proof-of-concept’ vehicle but others will emerge far bigger and more successful than even this – bearing in mind that Pokemon Go was the most successful new game launch in gaming history. 
 
For the industry I think the next five years will see more validation of various business concepts that will be seen as viable and steady. I think the Ikea furniture catalog AR application is one of the most sustainable on a retail/commerce side; various user-assistance uses of AR in say the Audi user-manual for cars, are an obvious big area that can now get a boost when AR has been ‘validated’ by Pokemon Go. But in 5 years AR will have a Billion consumers using it, AR will be as normal for most users on their smartphones as going to Facebook or Whatsapp or Skype might be today.
 
TV is old news, mobile is now, but AR is the next big thing
 
2. Who, in your opinion, are the more influential players in this industry, and where do you see the most potential for development?
 
I think the big driver for AR is entertainment at least initially. It is a very ‘fun’ type of use of mobile, especially if you compare to say ‘payments’ and mobile money, which is far more ‘useful’ than strictly fun (who loves paying?). I would think that again, the Pokemon Go experience will drive other brands from Disney to Hollywood and TV, to start to deploy AR into their brand experiences. Imagine the next James Bond movie (isn’t it time 007 visited Australia?) – I could very well imagine a Bond-themed adventure ‘game’ with AR that included elements from the movie and set ideally in locations that the movie itself was shot. Or take any of the big action hero movies, the Iron Man, Superman, Spiderman, Batman etc type of movies – these would seem like naturals to go to AR soon. Any strictly animated movies and various currently-popular TV shows – they should already have some kind of AR concept under development to ‘be the next Pokemon Go’ haha..
 
If we think of tech companies, I don’t see anyone moving ahead of the pack so far. And on AR specialist firms, Layar had an early head-start but they don’t seem to (at least yet) have gotten to that ‘Google front-runner’ status of what we typically see in tech like Amazon in retail or Facebook in social media etc.
 
3. Everyone has been talking about AR extensively, particularly post Pokemon, but in your opinion, what are the top 3 benefits of this technology?
 
First off, AR is truly magical. As such, it appeals remarkably strongly to young people. I would guess that once the big ‘youth brands’ figure out that TV is old news, mobile is now, but AR is the next big thing – we will see news like Adidas made last week, when they said they will end TV advertisements because the youth are on their smartphones. I can foresee a time when especially youth-targeted brands start to set AR as their primary media/advertising channel. Secondly AR is ‘illustrative’ and by this I mean it can show us what to do, and how to do it. In any kind of learning situation, AR can project the video of the optimal performance and that can be incredibly powerful in helping illustrate how to do things. User guides and manuals will soon all be AR-enabled. Don’t make me read a manual. Show me how to do it. And the third big benefit is that AR is inherently digital AND inherently mobile. That means it is fully ready for the future digitally-converged world when our money and communciations and media and consumption and behavior and preferences etc will all be done through mobile and using digital means. AR could become ‘the next thing’ after video on mobile. This would be on the progression that mobile was first voice, then text, then pictures, now videos, and next… AR. But we have to see if that comes to be.
 
4. Given the relative ease of implementing the technology, what are some challenges faced by companies looking to adopt AR at an enterprise level?
 
A big problem for most businesses is to find a suitably frequent behavior that could be enhanced or expanded via AR. So if you bought your new car, and once had a problem changing the oil, and used the AR guide once – you will pretty much forget its even possible and won’t get the chance to explore and ‘enjoy’ it. Even as the car company may have built many dozens of AR use-cases to assist the car-owner. But in the case of Pokemon Go there is a lot of ‘repetitive’ behavior and ‘returning’ behavior, so you have to come back and nurture the eggs, and walk the distance to hatch the eggs, and so forth. They have done a lot of thinking on the human ‘addiction-building’ repetitive behavior. I often tell the story of cinema vs bus ticket in mobile payments. Most people go to the cinema only a few times per year. We don’t really ‘learn’ or ‘remember’ that we could pay for that ticket on our mobile phone. But if we commute to work or school every day by bus, we’ll learn in a few days how much more convenient it is to pay by mobile.
 
AR is truly magical. As such, it appeals remarkably strongly to young people.
 
5. Any final thoughts/advice to newcomers in the industry or people wanting to learn how it all works?
 
I do look for the magical. A Disney birthday cake that has Cinderella in it to sing to the 5 year old princess that special day. A penguin at a Tokyo zoo who shows the path how to get from the train station to the zoo, and the penguin waddles exactly like a real penguin, as it walks. This is the kind of magic we can experience in AR and we should seek more of that. And make sure the consumers can share and spread the fun with their friends, through social media etc.
 
Note: Check out Tomi’s Tedx Talk on Augmented Reality being the 8th Mass Medium
 

AR – 3 common queries in pitch meetings

Augmented Reality – Confusing? Exciting? Expensive?

For campaign managers, marketing managers, digital agencies and the like – what really is the opportunity presented by AR? Following are three of the most common questions that we have come across recently – and our responses in summary.

 

  1. Doesn’t creating AR take a lot of time and resources? Isn’t it expensive?

Hmm – it’s all relative! 

AR is a new medium of communication – and as with the introduction of any previous media, such as the television or digital advertising, the initial uptake is seen as being risky, and the ROI isn’t always clear.

Most forward thinking companies are adopting research into the AR space, be it for marketing, operations or product development. We see this quite clearly when we look at some of the members of AREA – the global member-based organization promoting widespread adoption of enterprise level AR solutions.

Related posts

 

  1. How do I go about creating content for this new media? My budgets are already allocated into making creatives for print, tv, radio, outdoor and/or digital!

 

Being a medium of communication – there’s certainly ways that content can be created to leverage the technology to make it more engaging, however essentially – that’s all it is – a medium of communication!

You could repurpose your print ads for an AR experience for consumers when they walk into your retail outlets, or have a tv ad play when they scan a barcode on a product. The digital content that is being created, be it banners, quirky gif files or even memes – can all be overlaid on your logo to provide the user a unique and memorable experience.

 Here are some examples of how AR is working in selected industries.

Related posts

 

  1. I’ve seen how popular pokemon was, and how well the mcdonalds AR app worked too. But creating that seems time consuming and my audience is different! How can I show my colleagues and my boss how effective this technology is?

 

Given the popularity of those apps – the engagement levels that this technology can offer is evident. However, it can be challenging presenting a video game as a reference for a marketing initiative at a paper company (for example). So if you feel that your company isn’t going to get value from those references – why not set up an AR experience aligned to your goals?

The best part is that its not complicated, its free to try and the experience only takes a few minutes to set up. We’ve built a tool that enables you to create a custom AR experience in 3 steps. 8AR is currently in Alpha phase – and as we build it out further, we’d love to get your feedback and understand how we can build it to suit your requirements and take you into an age of frontier technology.

Related posts

Here’s a short video explaining how it works;

 

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A Culture of Trust Series: Lego Serious Play

Seeing is believing – CX and Lego

 

Awkward conversations. We’ve all been in them – with loved ones, with baristas who misspell our names, sometimes with mysterious strangers at train stations. At times unavoidable and generally unpredictable, as humans, we grow to identify tell-tale signs of discomfort as it slithers around the corner unforgivingly toward us.

As professionals, these conversations come in differing shapes and sizes, and with far higher frequency – with colleagues, more often so with suppliers and of course, the client who just doesn’t get it. Or so we tell ourselves.

Recently, we were given the opportunity to attend a workshop run Lego Serious Play. Naturally, “Lego” and “serious play” come as an intriguing dichotomy. However, Lego Serious Play is in fact an accredited training program used internationally to assist businesses with workshops designed to improve teamwork and communication.

Our session was a slightly abridged version that lasted 90 minutes, with 4 key tasks set out for us to complete – and build!

Task 1:

Think of a recent experience that made you feel like a valuable customer.

Outcome:

A rather conservative block, with a level of comfort (almost throne-like) and a general sense of satisfaction.

Take-away:

Treat your customers with respect if you want to earn their trust.

“Customers may forget your words, but never the way you made them feel.”

 

1

2

Task 2:

How do you believe your customers view your company?

Outcome:

Partners up the steps to success

(from the customer’s point of view)

 

 


Step 1 – Treat me as a valued client!

Step 2 – Help me save money!

Step 3 – Keep your invoice amount low!

Step 4 – Even when our partnership has been successful – I am always watching you!

 

Take-away:

Task 1 v/s Task 2 – a customer’s impression of their experience will always be more conservative than we expect.

“It’s not our story, but the collective journey of our customers and us!”

 

3   4

Task 3:

What do you think your clients are looking for from you?

Outcome:

Seeking guides to unchartered territory.

*As a caveat, working in frontier technology invariably means that a number of leads that we generate are curious to learn from us (and with us).

Take-away:

Our clients are coming to us because they recognize that we have the resources or the knowledge to assist them. Do right by your customers, because they are placing their trust in you.

“With great power comes great responsibility”

 

5

6

Task 4:

How do you want your clients to feel when they think of your business?

Outcome:

Our clients are on top of the mountain of their goals, basking the treasure chest of success. They get to wear Top-hats like the epitome of success – the Monopoly Man.

We get to wear the hats of wizards – and strike a pose.

Take-away:

Find a sense of pride in your customer’s success. Your win, is our win. Put your trust in us, and we will guide you to the top.

“Strive to enable the success of others”

 

In summary;

“Customers may forget your words, but never the way you made them feel.”

“It’s not just our story, but the collective journey of our customers and us!”

“With great power comes great responsibility”

“Strive to enable the success of others”

 

The challenge with frontier technology, and augmented reality in particular, is that mass media presents it in consumer renditions such as games and marketing campaigns. While these are valid engaging formats – AR offers a wide array of other solutions that can assist your company run faster, cheaper and we guarantee your customers will never forget their first AR experience.

We would like to help you make that happen, and look forward to hearing from you when you think the time is right.

 

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Staff Blog: Mucking about with 360 VideoSphere VR Part 3

Interested in 360 VideoSphere (360 Virtual Reality)? This series shares what I learnt producing a short film aboard an old Sailing Ship for the Melbourne Fringe Festival[1].

In the last update, my team of volunteers were looking forward to shooting our first 360 VR short film. Then we hit a hurdle. Our cinematographer was unable to do any test shots or editing, due to incompatibility with his computer and the festival’s practice camera.

AWFUL AUDIO, OR AUDACIOUS?

The hurdle was followed by a face-first tumble into the mud when our sound engineer had an overseas job at the same time as the shoot. We could not reschedule; Melbourne Regatta Day aligned with our shooting window, and was too good to miss.

Plan B. We contacted other specialists, and they were keen to try 360 VideoSphere production, but there was not enough time to line up people and equipment. So we fell back to Plan C; use the Samsung Gear 360 camera’s inbuilt microphone. This would not be great if you’re recording a concert, or producing a narrative that requires directional sound to direct audience attention. Still, for our purposes we were pretty pleased with the quality.

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NEW TECHNOLOGY? IF WISDOM FAILS TRY TENACITY

Conventional wisdom with emerging technology is test it early and iron out the inevitable problems. It’s wisdom for a reason.

Unfortunately, the festival’s production units were unavailable in advance. So, we could give up, or improvise and manage the risk. We decided to go for it, and as expected, encountered problems right away.

It is not possible to get behind a 360 camera and look through a viewfinder, but with the Samsung Gear you can use your phone as a remote viewer. A nifty feature, unless as in this case, Samsung block access to the app because you’re in a country where the Camera has yet to be officially released. The festival hadn’t identified this issue because like us, this was their inaugural spin on the 360 dancefloor.

Short of trying solutions like IP masking to make it look like we were in South Korea (where the camera was bought) we would have to shoot blind – so that’s what we did. For example, we climbed the mast and out onto a yardarm to attach the camera. Then, we recovered it after 10 minutes to physically connect it to my laptop and review the footage.

Sometimes even workarounds need a workaround. The case around the camera’s USB port was too small for our cable, and modifying the borrowed camera was out of the question. Our resident inventor, Andrew, borrowed the skipper’s knife and whittled away his own USB cable’s superfluous housing. I admit, I was sceptical but it fit neatly into the Camera’s port.

IN THE NEXT UPDATE

So after a long day shooting we had plenty of good footage.

However, 360 VideoSphere (360 VR) film is captured on multiple cameras. So, this composite footage must be “stitched” together before it can be edited. The results create some unique trials in the editing suit!

USEFUL LINKS

 

For an immersive experience and ease of use try using a Google Cardboard headset and selecting this icon in YouTube: google_cardboard_logo

 

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Intern Blog: How Augmented Reality can bring Hogwarts to Life

Written by: Navya

The cold yet damp air wrapped around him like a heavy coat of chain mail as he transcended down the ageing hallways. The paintings, lining the walls, alive, uttering unintelligible words. Yet amongst the sea of voices, two words became prominent, echoing throughout the empty castle: “Harry…Harry Potter”. The stone-cold walls – unscathed by the warmth radiating from the flaming torches, created an illusion of twilight despite the heat and brilliance of the Summer time.

Eagerly waiting on your 11th birthday for Hagrid to arrive with your Hogwarts acceptance letter was, I dare say, every child’s dream. At least it was mine for sure. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – from the talking paintings to the Transfiguration classes, life was full of promise. This is an ideal that never failed to amaze us Potterheads. Yet, as we grew older, we accepted the fact that it was impossible.

Hogwarts was merely a phantom of our imaginations that we were forced to leave behind. However now, through the use of Augmented Reality (AR), the magic we believed was lost can be retrieved – and it’s much easier than you think.

How can augmented reality be used in modern schooling?

From multi-touch to gaming technologies which are utilised in modern schooling, we are, undoubtedly harnessing the ‘Classroom of the Future’ for generations to come. An aspect which is vital in social and intellectual ferment within a school environment is the interaction and collaboration between peers and educators alike. Ultimately, collaborative AR allows for teamwork when comprehending the superimposed virtual data. This helps to promote a greater transfer of knowledge amongst students of all ages. For instance, undertaking difficult procedures or to tackle any problems is addressed through AR demonstrations in lecture or seminar halls. Alternatively,  classrooms can establish an effective means of passing of knowledge amongst people.

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Amazing, right?

Better yet, it caters to specific learning types of students. Students can physically see or hear the digital material, formulating a better understanding of the data. Moreover, it affords students the opportunity to instinctively manipulate and alter the ‘virtual information’. This ensures a stronger understanding of their subject content (as augmented technology can be repeated).

The very basis of AR is to integrate the concepts of a physical environment (such as a classroom) with various virtual setups to establish tangible interfaces. A medium to transfer information to students in an interactive manner. Talking paintings no longer seem like a distant cry, do they?


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Okay, okay – so this may not be Hogwarts as we exactly remember it. However we must consider the limitless possibilities AR developed by Appearition has to offer. The world is forever changing, and it is time we stop falling behind the times. Hey, you never know – you just might find a little bit of magic along the way.

 

Image source: (1) (2) (3)

 

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A Culture of Trust Series: Japan

A few weeks ago, we were offered a spot in the Victorian Government’s 2016 Technology Trade Mission to Japan. For us, this presented an opportunity to make the most of a guided tour of a market that we have long admired. We have also always aspired to engage with this culture of trust.

To my luck, our diverse team holds a wealth of experience from past expeditions into the land of the rising sun. Having aggregated as much water-cooler knowledge as I could possibly manage – I embarked on my first visit to Tokyo. 

Lesson #1 – Trust and collaboration

The Japanese are inherently collaborative and trust-worthy – the locals are friendly and will offer whatever assistance they can. My first exposure to this was during an attempt to navigate the myriad of tunneled trains that make up the Tokyo underground. Multiple kind faces offered this confused tourist assistance in this endeavor – despite the lack of any linguistic alignment. I don’t speak Japanese, and a couple of my new friends didn’t speak English. But the encouragement of smiles coupled with the support of Google Maps multilingual support – made the local commute a cinch.

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This courtesy extends to professional life as well. The Japanese are approachable and happy to give time to visitors, sharing insights and discussing ideas. This was further evident from the number of meetings that were arranged as the Victorian Government did an exceptional job of arranging visits with a diverse slice of the local economy – ranging from potential partners to active prospects.

It’s no secret that the Japanese market is massive – with a population of 125 million – compared to Australia. However, the average consumer spend is up to 9 times more than the parallel statistic in China. This propels the economy to be at par with their closest neighbors to the west.

Lesson #2 – Little steps toward a larger goal

Kaizen – or a beautiful mindset balanced in patience and consistency towards continual improvement – is a practice evident in everything done in Japan. From the staff in hospitality, to the largest of corporations and in day-to-day life as well. It is an approach engrained in the local mindset – and is a key adjustment for any inbound business.

However, the approachability and open discussion of ideas – very often assumed otherwise – is no indication of a client win. Relationships must be built over time, respect must be earned and when trust is established, negotiations can begin.

The visit coincided with the NEC iExpo 2016, an annual event where regional team leaders and clients of the Japanese technology are invited to explore and experience the latest in their research. The expo was not open to the public – and we were thankful for the invite. It would undermine the experience to summarize it in a blog post. However, the overarching message that hit me was NEC’s impressive pursuit of social value creation and the use of technology towards this goal.

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Lesson #3 – Pursue social value creation

The cornerstone of NEC’s business is “Orchestrating a brighter world”. This indicates that even large organizations can consciously “strive to orchestrate projects with people around the world to “co-create” a society that is filled with hope and offers a brighter future for everyone.” NEC invests heavily in research and solutions for smart cities, artificial intelligence, etc, are well above par. With integrated end-to-end solutions, NEC offers a clear, holistic view on how digital transformation can support the population growth.

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In the realm of digital transformation, there is much to be learnt from Japanese business culture. The steady approach to understanding every facet of an organizations operations is critical. This allows more analysis on how technology such as Augmented Reality can serve as a medium to add value to a client. Similarly, change management forms a critical part of any transformation, as careful planning and contingency plans are unavoidably critical.

These three lessons are merely the tip of the iceberg from this visit, but are by far the most prudent. At Appearition we make it a point to share what we learn about business culture and values internally. We apply similar practices towards building a stronger value offering for our clients.

To outsiders, we may be just another statistic in the wave of technology start-ups. However, our philosophy is simple and we will not waver from it – respect stakeholders of your ecosystem and create real value for them – and success will come.

Thank you for taking the time to read today, and we look forward to sharing more in the near future.

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Staff Blog: Mucking about with 360 VideoSphere VR Part 2

All Goes Well, Until It Doesn’t

Interested in 360 VR (VideoSphere)? This series shares what I learnt producing one aboard an old Sailing Ship for the Melbourne Fringe Festival[1].

I was lucky enough to come across the opportunity at a VR (Virtual Reality) meetup to produce a VideoSphere short film, with the camera and expert guidance supplied[2]. I have produced traditional video, and was already intrigued after seeing two staff from ABC TV talk about their experience at an earlier Mixed Reality meetup[3].

When Amy Nelson and Astrid Scott explained how they produced the ABC’s first 360 production, I was struck by how accessible they made it[4]. They faced the challenge of placing their camera on a pole over an angry bull in the middle of a rodeo in outback Queensland. For other shots they had the camera operator hiding behind a barrel. Not because of the bull, but because hiding the crew behind the camera is not an option, when there is no “behind” the camera.

They were candid about accepting mistakes. They knew that many of the rules learned over the last century do not apply to this medium so new practices must be developed through experimentation.

So given this chance, my first thought was ‘brilliant!’ which is my reaction to anything related to Virtual and Augmented Reality. But I had no team, no 360 experience, and no time. So, it had everything going for it but common sense.

1830’s Cultural Heritage Meets 360 Video

The festival required a proposal. Cultural Heritage (i.e. history) kinda rocks and everybody loves old fashioned sailing ships, whatever their opinion of Johnny Depp’s (over)acting in Pirates of the Caribbean. However, not everybody can spend time aboard one, let alone to climb out onto a yard-arm high above the deck. I have been a volunteer aboard the Enterprize, an educational tourism ship, for the last few years, and this was a way to share the experience.

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The first step was to create a storyboard (a sequence of shots, like panels in a comic book) and get the festival and the ship’s management on board.

The next step was to put together a team. For the cinematography I called on Andrew Gotts, an old friend who has worked in video production. He enjoys experimental technology, and has a good head for heights. He suggested an editor, Nadia Nusatea, so that made three. We still required an audio specialist so I approached Darius Kedros who runs a VR Audio special interest group[5].

There were a few short weeks to learn the technology, shoot and edit. But we now had a plan, a team, and something to film.

Cameras and Audio Equal Trouble and Strife

Then, bad news. The practice camera provided was incompatible with Andrew’s hardware, and we could not borrow the production camera until less than a day before the shoot. Our choices were to quit, or go in blind.

Worse news. Darius would be overseas for an extended period. Understandably he did not want to risk his very expensive audio capture equipment with somebody else; particularly when it would be suspended over salt water.

Next week

In next week’s edition: All At Sea But Problem Solving: We improvise to solve our production problems and capture our footage, but even editing 360 creates its own obstacles

Useful Links

Many of these are Melbourne (Australia) based, but you can find similar resources wherever you are.

  1. Part 1 of this Series: https://www.appearition.com/mucking-about-with-360-videosphere-vr/ 
  2. Nathan Beattie’s VR Developers’ Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/Melbourne-VR/
  3. Leah Bunny and Emily Harridge’s Real World VR Meetuphttps://www.meetup.com/Melbourne-VR-Virtual-Reality-Meetup/
  4. ABC TV’s first 360 VideoSphere production: http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-03/vr:-the-life-of-a-bronc-rider/6966832
  5. Darius Kedros and Sally Kellaway’s VR Audio Group: http://www.meetup.com/Melbourne-AR-VR-Audio-Meetup/

 

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