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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

 

 

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 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?

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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.

 

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“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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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!

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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
 

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.

 

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Intern series: How to land an internship in a tech company

Vivienne Zhu is a Commerce & Law student at Monash University currently interning with Appearition’s head office in Melbourne.

How’d I get land my first internship? By telling Tushar about my lonely yet, solution oriented solo hike on the snow covered Bukhansan Mountain in Korea. This is only half true. My passion for marketing, previous work in a NFP and willingness to step out of my comfort zone shone through against many other candidates.

Landing an internship in a tech company without tech knowledge?

As someone who has never learnt about IT, augmented reality or coding, it’s quite different and interesting to work in this environment. Often others in the office use a lot of technical terms that I don’t necessarily understand, but I’m always free to ask (or Google in my spare time). However, the technical jargon that comes along in a tech space naturally becomes more comprehensible.

As a marketing intern, my first few weeks consisted primarily of competitive analysis and events research. However, I was soon trusted to start my own social media campaigns on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I constantly put my hand up to take on opportunities within my capabilities – e.g. filming and editing a video for a client. This allowed my peers to see that I was capable of more than what they initially thought.

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In my first three months, I’ve had opportunities to work on new projects and learn more practical marketing skills (social media analysis, Google Adwords and driving B2B Marketing). Whilst I am not majoring or studying marketing, I am continuously developing my skills in this digital age of marketing. Creating content and following trends is very important. Whilst I’ve learnt so much about marketing, I’ve also learnt about the intricacies of augmented reality.

What is augmented reality?

Before this internship. I had no idea what augmented reality was. Prior to my interview, I was furiously researching about the industry. AR is still quite new and my only touch point was my Snapchat obsession (sorry to disappoint but I never got into the Pokemon Go fad). I’ve experimented with Appearition’s apps, and now understand the solutions they provide for businesses. AR goes far beyond consumer capabilities, but is likely to have a great impact in the workplace in the future.rgea

I look forward to the coming weeks and potential projects I’ll be involved in, and I know this is just the beginning for my personal augmented reality journey.

By the way, I wasn’t completely alone on the mountains. I strategically followed three senior Korean hikers who took me on the hike of a lifetime. At the end of the day, it’s all about strategy, passion and drive.

If you’d like to follow my work – like our Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages!

 

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Three ways to use virtual reality to drive social change

In this day and age, we can use social media, augmented reality and virtual reality to drive social change by altering the way we campaign for causes. When a potential audience of billions can be reached with content to highlight a social issue, the impact is often swift and significant – think of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) have major roles to play in an era where change is literally in the palm of anyone’s hand. Here’s why.

It gives people a voice

billgates-booksOne of the best ways to open hearts and minds to a cause is to connect potential contributors with the people who stand to benefit from their con
tributions. No less than Bill Gates has shown how it’s done, allowing readers of his blog
Gates Notes to join him in his efforts to combat AIDS in Africa in a 360-degree VR film. “Meeting” people living with AIDS and the people working towards an AIDS-free future inspires viewers to make a difference.

 

Helping others connect with a situation

 

Now that you’ve met the people who need your help, VR can give you a better understanding of why they need your help. “If you could shuffle all of the homes in the world like a deck of cards so that people in wealthy countries lived side by side with people from poor countries, it would transform the world’s fight against poverty, hunger, and disease,” Gates writes. “It would be impossible for people to look away, impossible for them not to help.”

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It can be difficult to connect with an issue when you don’t see it for what it really is. Even consistent news coverage has the tendency to fade into the background when we only hear one-off stories and see isolated images. Take the Syrian refugee crisis. The Syrian civil war has gone on for so long. Many people are now numb to the suffering of civilians affected by the conflict. With immersive 360-degree VR films, however, you are not able to tune out or multi-task; you focus on the subject. The International Rescue Committee recognised this and used it in a film called Four Walls, made in collaboration with YouVisit. In Four Walls, you experience the living conditions of a refugee camp in Lebanon and witness the claustrophobia first-hand. You also see how their hopes and desires are not far removed from your own.

The results of these campaigns, as reported by Adweek, are promising. From the Syrian refugee crisis to non-profits championing clean water and education, VR films have brought in donations. In a recent UNICEF campaign, a VR film telling the story of a Syrian girl living in a refugee camp in Jordan boosted donations to US$3.8 billion – double what they expected to receive.

Putting benefactors in the shoes of beneficiaries

For organisations fighting diseases and illnesses, one important way to generate donations is to show people what it would be like to have that disease or illness themselves. To do that, Alzheimer’s Research UK and Visyon launched A Walk Through Dementia, a Google Cardboard app. This app recreates everyday situations faced by those who suffer from dementia – grocery shopping, walking around the neighbourhood visyon_-a-walk-through-dementia-1and simply being at home. Improving the public’s knowledge and pushing them to see the difficulty of life with the condition shifts it away from being an abstract concept. Recognising the impact that dementia could have on your own life and the lives of the people you care about, you realise the importance of taking immediate action and supporting organisations doing research to defeat
it.

Inspired to take your cause further with mixed reality? We want to be on your team. At Appearition, our goal is simple – tailored solutions that maximise ROI and deliver sustainable stakeholder value. We employ a partnership model driven by principles in change management. We ensure the complex mesh created by our solutions makes sense for our clients. Contact us to find out more.

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Image Sources

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IndustryAR: Augmented Reality Transport Improving Daily Life

Augmented reality transport has helped tourists navigate train lines, assist cyclists in urban traffic and improve logistics transportation optimization. However, there is still significant room to develop in this industry and it will do so over the coming years.

Augmented reality on roads

big_livemap2In the UK, there are similar developments with bicycle helmets. Through augmented reality transport, safety is promoted by ensuring cyclists maintain a head-up stance, as the pertinent information appears in their visor, and not down on a smartphone.

As an added bonus, a feature called blind spot visualization is being explored. If developed and added, this could greatly reduce the incidence of heavy vehicles cutting into to bicycle paths, a major cause of cycling fatalities.

Yet another perk is a feature that could suggest bike routes that are less polluted by heavy traffic. An especially helpful feature for most industrialized, heavily trafficked cities. And of course, navigation would be the backbone of such an app.

Augmented reality in logistics

AR applications can also be a big asset to logistics companies by optimizing transportation. Applications could help drivers by improvingaugmented_reality
navigational efficiency and safety. AR could also help workers identify, at a glance, if a particular shipment is the correct one, or if it meets the required import/export regulations.

These are processes often take a long time to perform manually, and they run up costs. In a nutshell, AR has the potential to take a lot of the ‘grunt’ out of grunt work and help move things along more smoothly and efficiently.

While AR is finding some expression in the transportation industry, it is still early stages. There are plenty of applications still in development. However, this is less of a limitation and more of an indication of a vast future potential.

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IndustryAR: Augmented Reality in Defence and Military

When it comes to defence and the military, every advantage matters. We live in a technological age where the most effective military is not one with the most soldiers, but the best technology. And the best technology right now is Augmented Reaaugmented-reality-600lity (AR) in defence.

The US military has already begun employing AR technology in its training cycles, most notably during an Infantry Officer Course in Quantico last year.

Young Marines got to test out a new AR-based system known as the Augmented Immersive Team Trainer (AITT). It’s a system that trains troops in calling in airstrikes and artillery barrages.

Traditionally, this form of training is difficult to conduct. Munitions and targets can only be used once and aircraft and artillery barges are prohibitively expensive, and often unavailable during these training cycles.

However, the AITT proved extremely beneficial in this regard. The expensive components such as aircraft, bombs and their resulting explosions, could be digitally created and overlaid on a real-world training battlefield.

These elements would of course be required to behave realistically, a fairly easy task. There was no need to worry about limited munitions, unavailable jets or single-use targets.

The added bonus is that unlike virtual reality, augmented reality in defence allowed troops to go through the actual physical motions of training. Soldiers require actual walls and stairs, real world obstacles to build up muscle memory.

Another advantage of augmented reality in military training systems is its mobility. Current USMC training requires Marines to go to a specific location and often requires the use of significant contractor support. With AR-based training systems however, these devices can be move around easily and the set up is usually far less complicated.

df4fad14-9444-11e4-_831351cThe reason why virtual reality falls short is that it takes away from the real world battlefield. It’s great for a fighter pilot in a cockpit simulator, as he essentially deals with buttons, joysticks and screens. He himself is static while it is his vehicle that moves in space.
Thus, apart from the massive G-forces, this is fairly easy to simulate through VR.

Also, similar technology such as Google Glass can sometimes be more of an impediment than an asset.

It is essentially another screen, just much closer to the eye of the soldier. There is still a cognitive load and time lag when a soldier shifts his attention to the screen. He will then need to mentally processes that information in relation to his real world situation. Augmented reality in defence does the processing for you. The information overlayed in an understandable format. In other words, you simply ‘see it as it is’.

 

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Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality in Rio Olympics 2016

We’ve come a long way from television broadcasts of sporting events where inclement weather, bad lighting or overexposure often resulted in dull, poor quality images. We now enjoy crisp, crystal clear footage of our favourite sporting events, on demand, in high definition.

With innovations in technology, the viewing experience of watching a sports broadcast is becoming increasingly just that, an experience.

The recent Rio Olympics was one such example. Not only was it broadcast in high definition (HD), some events were broadcast in the latest 8k Ultra high definition.

But more than clear images, the adoption of Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and 360 degree imagery is what really set this olympics apart.

Significant portions of the Rio Olympics were broadcast in HD in VR. From the opening and closing ceremonies, to selected events such as track and field, beach volleyball and gymnastics, approximately 85 hours of VR footage from Rio was made available for viewing.

Specially developed, custom-made cameras were rolled out specifically to capture this footage in all its glorious, ultra high-definition. Using compatible headsets and their mobile phones, for the first time, viewers could enjoy and experience portions of the Olympics, as if they were there.

blog-rio-img1No longer was the opening ceremony something to watch from one point of view on a screen. With a VR headset, your entire visual field became the screen, and the ceremony was not just in front of you, but behind and to the sides. It’s almost like you were there. And this is exactly what Production Manager for Olympic Broadcasting Services, Karen Mullins, wanted from this unprecedented method of sports broadcasting.

“VR is not about viewing in a traditional sense,” said Mullins. I’s about an ‘experience’ and we always tend to describe it as that, rather than as coverage.”

And what an experience it was. To watch the world’s top athletes go for gold on a flat screen is one thing. But to experience it as it happens around you, while in the comfort of your living room, is quite another. Even for those without compatible headsets, numerous providers had uploaded 360 degree videos of Olympic teasers, events and interviews on YouTube.

All one needed was to cue up a video and use a mouse pointer to scroll around for a complete 360 degree view. Even without a headset or VR goggles, it’s quite an arresting visual experience.

But technological innovations at the Olympics didn’t stop at virtual reality. A host of studios and companies employed heavy use of augmented reality in their presentation.

AR graphics seemed to dominate televised broadcasts of the Olympics. From simple graphics of data and stats, to touchscreen tables in front of TV presenters where Olympic basketball events appeared to be played out live and in miniature.

There was even a memorable 3D capture of sprinter Usain Bolt, who seemed to came alive in the studio, right next to TV presenters.

The Olympics were a notable testing ground for these new technologies, but it didn’t stop at just broadcasting.

The events themselves utilized a host of technological improvements, such as underwater lap counters, video referees for certain sports, real time GPS tracking for canoe sprints and rowing (to name a few).

There were also drones streaming images live from stadiums.

All things considered, “watching” a sports broadcast, in the traditional sense, might soon be a relic of the past. Increasingly, with technological advancements in VR and AR technology, sports broadcasts are becoming things to experience more than just watch.

The recent Olympics were most likely just a taster, a testing ground that showed us what was possible – that being a passive viewer is giving way to being an active spectator.

You no longer have to view a sporting event, you can virtually be there, look around and experience the action unfold around you, in dazzling 360-degree perfection.

 

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Wearable technology to win

There has been speculation about whether wearable technology gave English Premier League (EPL) team Leicester City the edge it needed to win the Premier League last year. This is especially impressive, considering that the season prior, and the ten years before that, Leicester City was not even in the Premier League to begin with. They had been relegated to the lower divisions and were languishing there for some time.

blog-wearable-technology-img1The type of wearable technology used by sports teams is slightly different from AR and VR simulations and headsets. Their wearable technology gives team coaches a unique insight into a player’s overall fitness. It measures heart rate, position, direction, speed and distance covered. It can even go as far as measuring the force and angle of a tackle. Using all this data in concert with complex algorithms, wearable technology can accurately predict the level of a player’s health and energy, in other words, match fitness.

Approximately 8% of top-tier teams employ the use of wearable technology, and Leicester City is one of them. On a scale as large as the EPL, a star striker’s match fitness could mean the difference between victory and defeat. It’s no coincidence that Jamie Vardy, Leicester’s striker, played every game, while Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney had to sit out more than a third of the season due to injuries.

In a sporting context like the EPL, where players are bought and sold for tens of millions of Pounds, and wins and losses translate into huge fluctuations in the bottom line, an edge like the ability to reduce a player’s injury rates, makes a huge difference.

blog-wearable-technology-img2Wearable technology has also had a significant impact on Rugby League, where data from wearables can clearly show the drop-off in work rates of certain players who need to replaced, and timely substitutions can be game changers. Wearables are also used in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) where they gather data such as the force produced from certain strikes, heart rate and distance covered in the octagon. The Australian Footy League (AFL) employs the use of wearable technology to keep tabs on players’ health, fitness and work rates. It seems like wearable technology, augmented reality and virtual reality have come from relative obscurity and are all of a sudden seamlessly woven into the fabric of sports. From development laboratories to the world stage, what was not so long ago viewed as a gimmick is now a crucial tool in the performance of athletes and sports teams.

 

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