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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
 

Staff blog: EMS Data Integration al dente.

It is a rare chance that we can compare the joy of fine cuisine to the rawness and relevance of data in our EMS. How can the culinary art of a top hat restaurant be linked to data integration in the EMS? Well, aside from the fact that it is too close to lunch and I am hungry, the two concepts aren’t too distant from each other.

17.11.2013 ZDJECIA WIZERUNKOWE DLA RESTAURACJI BURGER KITCHEN TOMKA WOZNIAKA , FOT. MARCIN KLABAN

Let’s see… restaurants must cater for their hungry customers. Dumping raw produce on a plate and presenting it to them simply won’t cut it. So, the kitchen must clean and prep the produce, add a combination of sauces, spices and herbs, apply heat and eventually present a meal worthy to the paying customer. Produce arrives from a supplier to the back door and the kitchen will convert that produce into something palatable for the customer at the front of the restaurant.

splunk-logo-2-300x173

Data integration follows the same paradigm. Think of the EMS as the kitchen, data providers as the suppliers and users as the paying customers. So, users make requests to the EMS for information. The EMS requests raw data from various data providers and will aggregate, sort, filter and deliver a result set to the user. Splunk is an example of a data provider, which offers an extensive and powerful service for gathering, collating and filtering vast amounts of raw data. From the user, the EMS can collect information such as their identity and their location, and with that (and more)  the EMS (i.e. kitchen) can craft a tailored query to search that raw data in Splunk (i.e. supplier).  From then, contextually relevant information can be fed back and presented to the user (i.e. paying customer)  in a palatable format.
…mmm saucey data.

Image source: (x) (x)

 

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Staff blog: Come fly with me

Written by: Marcelo Silva

The 360 Fly is a 360-degree camera and it may be one of best consumer 360 cameras yet.

Its extensive features make it easy and safe to use, no matter your skill level. The fact that it’s shockproof and waterproof makes it an easy choice over its competitors.

It’s rock solid and even if it’s your first time capturing 360-video, it doesn’t feel like you’re carrying a delicate piece of equipment.

The 360 Fly is easy to setup. You download the app press a button on the camera link up the Wi-Fi and your ready to go.

My Experience

My experiences with this camera have varied from frustration to feeling complete satisfaction. When I took it out for my first casual test run I tried holding it with my hand at the base, given that you get a 240-degree vertical view. This didn’t work out well for me as the objects I wanted to film where too far and I was standing too close too the camera. I came out of the video looking crazy distorted and the building I was trying to film looked like it was way too far away due to the fish eye lens.

The 360 Fly’s size turned out to be a huge advantage. I’m usually shy when it comes to filming videos in public. The fear I have is, that someone’s going to get upset and yell at me for filming them. I took it out into the city to film and normally people with video cameras get looks but I wasn’t getting any looks! Nobody realized it was a camera. You have to have this camera mounted to a tripod or monopod when in use. I walked into an AFL football game with the camera in hand with a Joby Gorillapod tripod, which is a mini tripod, into Etihad stadium. I was worried that they wouldn’t let me in. Not only did they let me in, they let me in no questions asked. You may be or may not be aware but there’s an increased security presence at Australian football games this year and they do not allow video devices into stadiums.

One of the struggles I had with this camera was filming good content. I have experience in filmmaking as in utilizing normal non 360-cameras, and I’m familiar with filming techniques however nothing that I had learnt at university had prepared me for this. After some trial and error I learned how to film engaging 360-footage. A good idea would be you may want to invest in a strong monopod.

The joys of using the 360 Fly came from my visit to the Melbourne Aquarium where I was starting to get a hang of filming with the 360 Fly. I was worried the cameras low light performance would produce poor footage but I was pleasantly surprised. When I got to test out the footage on Google cardboard, I was completely breath taken, after all my mishaps filming I finally got some good footage. One of the best experiences you’ll have with the 360 Fly is filming an experience and re watching it on a VR headset to relive the experience – amazingly it’s as good as being there in person. The company that manufactures the 360 Fly also manufactures their own VR headset that you can attach your phone to.

I do not recommend using this device for taking 360 degree pictures as it takes a still from a video and morphs it into a panoramic image or a globe. So if you’re thinking about using this for still-pictures invest in something else other than 360 fly.

Video quality

The 360 records in 1500×1500 resolution at 30 frames per second and that will give you a 240-degree vertical view. When you’re watching a 360fly video you can look up to see the sky, but you can’t look all the way down (you’ll see a black octagonal object). Because the 360 Fly is the world’s first single lens 360 the camera has it short comings however this does help keep the price down.

Sharing videos from this device is remarkably simple. The app on your phone, tablet or computer allows you to share video on Facebook YouTube, Twitter, and even on Break.

Software

The software is easy to use but frustratingly limiting. And keep you in mind; it’s in its first generation. You can edit videos and put them together but there’s no option to overlay audio unless you intend on posting a video on the 360 Fly website; as video editor I found that to be an annoyance. As a filmmaker, you know never to use the default on camera mic because, most on cameras mics provide poor audio quality, and the 360 Fly is no exception. This adds to the frustration of not being able to overlay a separate audio track.

If your looking for something more professional with the ability to include title sequences and the ability to add an audio track this camera is not for you.

Conclusion

The 360 fly is an amazing piece of technology. If you are an early adopter in 360-video, I recommend purchasing this to start with, due to its size. You will need to learn how to film engaging video content for this medium. There is no point in in spending thousands of dollars to have a professional set up and realizing that there’s not much for you to film.

 

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