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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!

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.

 

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.

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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: Silicon (something)

In the tech-world, there is little one can do to avoid constant references to Silicon Valley. My initial research provided little insight, so I turned to a colleague in pursuit of clarity. In typical tech-marketing fashion, he spared no word or phrase, providing me with a detailed insight into his understanding of the term.

Still seeking more understanding, I put the task to Great Aunt Google. My initial research provided the following – SV is in California – geographically this posed a significant challenge, considering I was at my desk in Australia. I began exploring terms that I had come across, “Sending winners of an entrepreneurship competition to SV” (I have recently been volunteering in managing this event) and the incessant #hashtags that circled this term within the twitter-sphere, and discovered that SV is/was in fact the beating heart of this industry.

SV is located in Santa blog-silicon-imgClara Valley and the city of San Jose. The “Valley” refers to the Santa Clara Valley and the word “Silicon” referred to the numerous innovators and manufacturers of silicon chips in the area. The term was introduced in 1971 by a reporter who started a column entitled “Silicon Valley in the USA”. Through the 80s, the term caught like wildfire and became the norm it is today.

Some tech giants in Silicon Valley include Netflix, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Tesla Motors, Adobe Systems, San Disk, Intel, Apple Inc., eBay, Cisco Systems, Google, Facebook, Visa Inc. and much more.

As I journeyed further through, I looked around at my colleagues and wondered what it meant to be be in SV, and conversely, being not being in the Valley for a tech start up like ours. Were there opportunities we could be missing as our USA office is in Portland, Oregon and not the valley itself. Exploring the initiatives we have launched in the past year, I came across some facts that connected us to the valley by association. Appearition is a member of AREA – the Augmented Reality Enterprise Association – an industry body led by thought leaders who are paving the way for this industry to grow in coming years, headquartered in Santa Clara. We were also sponsors and presented at the Augmented World Expo 2016 – hosted in Santa Clara.

As for a physical presence, Appearition may not be in Silicon Valley, but we are certainly in the vicinity. Further research revealed Portland to have a moniker of its own – the “Silicon Forest” – another leading hotspot of tech development and related industry activity. The term Silicon Forest was first used in a Japanese company’s press release in 1981, although Lattice Semiconductor trademarked the term in 1984 and are often accredited with establishing the term. This area is more known for companies that focus on hardware, computer chips, electronic displays and printers.

Companies in Silicon Forest include Airbnb, Macafee, Mozilla, Nike, SurveyMonkey, Xerox, Yahoo and many more.

This co-existence of multiple silicon localities is apparently merely the tip of the ice-berg, as I discovered a number of other pockets globally who had their own term for aggregations of tech companies and innovation. To name a few;

  • Singapore (Asia’s Silicon Valley) – Because of its popular location to set up an international business
  • Bangalore (India) – Often referred as “Silicon Plateau” (At Appearition India, we have two offices, including Chennai, also in the South of India and just off said plateau)
  • Cambridge (England) – referred as “Silicon Fen” and sometimes “Cambridge Cluster”
  • Dublin (Ireland) – This location is increasingly becoming the “Europe’s Silicon Valley” and also sometimes called “Silicon docks”
  • Berlin – in early 2000s Berlin earned being the location for start-up companies
  • Zhongguancun (China) – Known as “China’s Silicon Valley” located in Haidian District, Beijing

Thinking back to my home in Greenland, I would guess the capital Nuuk would be best primed to have our own silicon (something). While advanced technology is still on its way to Greenland, the speed of westernization is rapidly increasing back home and I don’t think we are a long way away from companies realising the opportunity in Greenland. Click here to learn more about Greenland’s technology story line from one of our previous blog entries.

 

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Staff blog: Entrepreneurial energy – the significance of a pit-stop at Stanford.

The energy of an entrepreneur in pursuit of a vision, harnessed, could potentially power a household for a week. In life, it’s not uncommon for one to face a dip in motivation, gusto or focus – and as I learned recently in my experience at Stanford, there is little as revitalizing as sitting in the midst of a room full of hungry entrepreneurs (budding and successful, alike).

blog-entrepreneur-imgThe atmosphere was electric – charged with a burst of energy I soon came to realise must be common-place for students at this historic institution. Notably, there was little whinging, no challenge seemed difficult and no task menial in group discussions. Common fact as it may be, the lecturer reminded us of the 1% chance of start-ups succeeding and the even smaller chance of attaining VC funding. The class gleaned over his words as a challenge to be overcome, rather than a reason to back down.

Almost like a veteran’s ball, students exchanged war stories ranging from soaring close to the sun and having strategic discussions with the likes of Google, to stories of struggle and the pain of failure. The emotion is very real here, as these lucid tales of incredible inspiration are sandwiched with equally detailed sagas of administrative challenges – such as printing and photocopying in colour on a budget. Such is the aura of true entrepreneurial spirit!

In this world – introductions go beyond where one grew up and awkward confessions of obscure hobbies – instead, every introduction is a snap at an elevator pitch, a practise outing before the big game. If there’s one thing entrepreneurs are innately aware of – it’s that every conversation and every moment, is the opportunity to get feedback and test the viability of an idea.

introductions become passionate pitches and conversations become networking. Interestingly, everyone had a story that took the listener somewhere – and 99% of the time it was not a pursuit of dollar bills. Money was not motivating these entrepreneurs; finance was more of the means to an end. The end game almost always is making their dreams come true by solving a problem they set out to solve!

Everyone in that room talked about connecting with people, the more dialogues they had the more they learned. No one spoke about the long hours it takes to have these dialogues the impact it has sometimes on their morale – to them it was simply again an avenue of discovery – another opportunity to learn and think in an exciting new way! Each and every conversation was important to them, regardless the product or industry their conversation partner was engaged in. The conversations were true in every sense as they really listened and asked questions to learn, not just to respond.

It didn’t matter what your idea or product is, the atmosphere here at Stanford is one of encouragement and belief in pursuit of a dream. Everyone suggests ways to think through challenges, and builds a support network that empowers you to be positive in whatever you choose to do. This was a revelation to me, away from the stories of cut-throat entrepreneurship that swirl around Silicon Valley as we, as a cohort, came together to learn, not just about funding strategies, but about each other as well – from crunching numbers, to crunching mindsets.

 

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Change management

Change is constant. With innovations in technology, changes in markets and methodologies, the corporate landscape is constantly evolving. It only makes sense that business adapt to these changes or get left behind.

Indeed, the business that adapt the quickest often carve out a competitive edge for themselves, while the ones mired in the inertia of the old ways, languish behind.

As Prof. Rosabeth M. Kanter of Harvard Business School noted, successful companies have “a culture that just keeps moving all the time”. Change is often arduous and beset by uncertainties and fear. It’s human nature to relish stability. Especially the sort of stability that saw a business through years of profit and efficiency. Why rock the boat when there’s been nothing but smooth sailing?

Of course the reality is, the tides have turned. The same stability that was once an asset is now a liability. Herein lies a fundamental component of change management – convincing employees (from senior executives all the way down) that change is necessary.blog-change-img

When it comes down to it, businesses don’t change, people do. There are many different change management implementation frameworks but in a nutshell, the following needs to take place.

The first step is a reality check; a brutally honest look at what needs to change, as well as communicating this to all levels of the organization. Because change needs to occur at the lowest individual level, all the way up.

Then comes implementation. This involves communicating, very clearly and to all levels of the organization, the overarching vision of the change. This is to ensure that there is no disconnect between the expectations of the employees and the anticipated change. If employees do not agree or fully grasp the logic behind the change, then there will be real problems in implementing such a change.

It is imperative that the change is owned by everyone, from the CEO and senior executives, all the way down the rung of the corporate ladder. Change is not something to be delegated, like project management. It is a process that everyone needs to embrace for it to be successful.

For example, in 2004 when Shell implemented Downstream­One, it was abundantly clear that the change programme started and ended with its new group chairman.

Moreover, this example illustrates another necessary aspect of successful change management: the importance of good leadership, not to command that change just happens, but like all good leaders, to lead by example.

Embracing change will also put leaders in a unique position to empathize with employee concerns and provide the necessary support during the implementation process.

Of course there are other aspects that must be taken into consideration. Change management is not a one size fits all approach. A change management program must take into consideration the unique idiosyncrasies of a particular organization, adjusting the program to work with their particular strengths and weaknesses.

There must also be a clear road map to success, one that takes into account a realistic time frame and that also celebrates small wins on the road to change.blog-change-img1

In many ways, change management is similar to a person ditching unhelpful old habits and replacing them with new, healthier ones, obviously on a much larger and more complicated scale. However, it is prescient to note the analogy as organizational change management often encounters similar obstacles to success.

Time, communication and measured changes, as well as ownership of change from all levels, is crucial to the goal of true change.

 

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Innovation and Augmented Reality

Innovation and Augmented Reality is driven by creativity and fed by knowledge. Without taking risks and altering routines, we stick only to what we know, stagnate as a result. Creativity is founded in inspiration and expresses what we have learned. If to learn is through making mistakes, it is important to let go of the fear of failing and have an open mind. And who knows, an accidents can lead to discovery, like when the founder of Kellogg’s left his wheat sitting out and found them flaky and crunchy – giving us Kellogg’s corn flakes!

Here’s how I see innovation: Whether in business organizations or rebuilding relationships with family or friends. When I came across a problem or something that could be done better, that is innovation coming alive. My process begins with brainstorming as many ideas I can think of. Secondly, I plan the idea and how I could go about implementing it. Finally, action – and testing it out to see if it works. If it doesn’t work, always remember to try the other ideas! It might sound simple, but that’s one of the ways to do it. With the help of great World Wide Web, the information out there are limitless, in my opinion.

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The biggest tool in innovation today is the internet. Innovation projects are booming more and more these years. Personally, I get more messages through online apps than regular SMS, for instance through Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger or Snapchat. Of these, Snapchat is probably the social media platform that promotes augmented reality faster than any other social media platforms. The app uses filters that transform faces to animal ears or scary faces and it is becoming one of the most popular use with youngsters. One other thing that is popular these days, is the Pokemon Go game. Pokemon is a Japanese game where players have to catch Pokemon creatures and teach them to battle. The game was popular in the beginning of 2000 and played using physical cards. The Pokemon Company released a modernized Pokemon game on a smart phone, and called it Pokemon Go. The game is located based augmented reality mobile game. Within three days after being released it was the most downloaded app in the US.

Augmented reality was first mentioned in 1901 by the author who wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. He had an idea of an electronic display that overlays data onto life, naming it ‘character marker’. But the term Augmented Reality was attributed first time in 1990 by a former Boeing researcher Thomas P. Caudell. Today, augmented reality is being more used in exhibitions, galleries or a simple guide through a city by using an app on your smartphone. And of course in games and social media too!

 

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Staff blog: AR for people with mental challenges and disabilities

Children make up the largest proportion of the population with intellectual disability, with around one-quarter being under the age of 15 years (ABS). Around the world people with other disabilities may include up to 18% of the population (US Census). The recognition that our community needs to integrate everyone, providing opportunities and resources to include everyone in worthwhile pursuits, has forced governments to create legislation to ban biased practices that reduce opportunities for the disabled. In some cases attempts to improve access to resources that create a path to life long learning have also been framed in law (Australian Disability Discrimination Act, The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, The Equality Act 2010 and the United Nations (UN) Convention on disability rights).

blog-disabilities-imgTechnology has also advanced to the point that tools are being created to provide significant assistance with people with disabilities in areas including cognitive development; social learning and communication; physical rehabilitation and spatial/localization recognition (to list a few achievements). Exciting applications have already been implemented with greater success that was anticipated. Children with autism have happily engaged with play and social learning activities utilizing various AR applications that promote healthy social interaction (International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality Conference 2012 and 2013). International studies have reported increased participant motivation, enjoyment, perceived improvement and exercise compliance leading to enhanced physical ability following the inclusion of AR and VR tools into stroke rehabilitation (Industrial research, New Zealand). Visually impaired people can look forward to using software which tracks objects and captures depth to provide auditory and haptic cues that describe a new environment (Google Project Tango). Potential workers with an intellectual disability can gain access to AR tools that engage with their environment to provide training, learning re-enforcement, and other work related information to ensure safe and efficient work practices (Spain, Augmented Reality for e-labora project).

The era of AR/Virtual Reality and AI supported systems and applications is here. Its initial usage might have been heralded mainly by AR/VR games, but the realization of a universe of possibilities now extends to enhancing the lives of people with disabilities. We have the impetus now to continue to develop systems that will greatly impact on people’s lives for the better. We must embrace the challenge with the excitement and enthusiasm it deserves.

 

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Staff blog: Brief history of Greenlands’ technology

blog-greenland-img-nuukMy knowledge in technology have been limited most of my life. I’m a proud Inuit who is born and grew up in Nuuk, Greenland. My passion for traveling has led me to Melbourne, Australia end of 2015, and eventually started working for Appearition Pty Ltd. The technology I followed was the one happening at home. First computer. First cell phone. I used to have this Siemens cell phone in my teenage years which I loved, because I could change the cover every month with colourful or boyband pictures.

However, my knowledge in technology first expanded when I started working for Appearition. A whole new world opened and I was amazed how the technology is that advanced today. I have to be honest though, things had to be explained to me more than once because I did not understood and couldn’t get my head around on some technology, such as Augmented Reality. With that being said, I’d like to tell you a little about my culture.

blog-greenland-img3Before the European explorers arrived to Greenland in the 1600’s, the Inuit’s lived in houses made of stones and peat, and wore reindeer and seal skin as clothes. Inuits used bones of whales and other arctic animal as tools and equipment. They believed in nature spirits before Christianity was introduced by Hans Egede, a Danish missionary, in the beginning of 1721. After Europeans began to travel to Greenland and started introducing of the modern world, Inuits began to build houses using woods. And to keep you in mind, trees do not grow in Greenland and this was an advantage for the Europeans to trade with the Inuits. When Hans Egede travelled to Greenland, he took building materials with him, such as concrete, barrels, coal and cobber.

The very first wooden houses were churches in bigger settlements such as Nuuk, Sisimiut and Ilulissat, and after the churches, they build hospitals. As you can imagine, the technology came to Greenland much later compared to other countries. Here’s the timeline of technology:

  • In 1921 the first telegram was imported to Greenland due to Danish Royal visit.blog-greenland-img1
  • First electricity generator was built in 1948.
  • Television was imported to the country in 1960s.
  • Greenland was digitalized in 1995.

Today, we Inuit, use latest cell phones, flat screen TV’s, laptops and so on. Although we still don’t have the luxury of paying with paywave, but Im sure the technology will be imported pretty soon. You should have seen my face when I first witnessed the paywave process with my Inuit eyes. Oh boy, what a whole new world.

 

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Staff blog: Matchmakers: AR/VR and Fintech

In Finance, time is money. Real-time is real money – therefore offering real-time user experiences (UX) creates new market dynamics.

Both Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are technologies, at the cusp of explosive take-off for wider engagement and adoption. This creates the possibilities for reactive frameworks, streaming, standard data format – catering even for differentials; the trends will only accelerate.

The main opportunity for AR/VR in fintech will be with data visualization. One of the key ways fintech companies differentiate from their traditional financial services competition is by focusing on enhancing customer engagement and user experience (UX). While much of finance and trading is controlled by algorithms and automatic processes, as more data is consumed by computers, it has made it harder for humans to analyze what is going on. As a result, data visualization products aided by Augmented Reality appear as an inevitable opportunity.

The challenge lies within an enterprise to re-imagine how functions and processes should and could operate based on today’s realities, not yesterday’s constraints. How is digitization eliminating physical location constraints in your business? What if complex analysis could be deployed across all of your organization’s data in an instant? Where are business ecosystems blurring or obliterating lines between competitors, partners, and customers? Approaches may range from wholesale transformational efforts to incremental improvements tacked on to traditional budgets and projects.

Creating a 360 degree view of data on customers, products, the chart of accounts, and social behaviors imply integration. This translates to transactions and other business data being available as APIs to systems outside of the core platform and potentially to partners, independent software vendors, or customers for usage outside an organization.

Innovation within Financial Institutions can be accomplished through these additional new interfaces to drive digital solutions, improve the reach of cloud investments, and simplify the ongoing care and maintenance of core systems. Is your enterprise ready for the ride?

 

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