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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: Using Augmented Reality Advertising to Drive Traffic

Written by: Andrew Erpelding

I’ve often wondered if other marketers look at a product and contemplate how they would position or drive traffic differently; as though marketing teams roam past marketing collateral and understand the way it is positioned and look for improvements. Driving an integrated marketing campaign involves so many different pieces, that marketers have to keep an eye towards new tools to elevate their advantage. The current new tool that is getting tremendous buzz is Augmented Reality advertising.

Augmented Reality is poking a sleeping giant. With a consumer base saturated with smart devices, the ability to engage with an immersive and engaging technology is at our doorstep.  Retail is one of the first markets to play this new tech is and has been changing the way marketers engage with their audience. Some of the greatest applications of AR to date occur in the B2C space. This is a logical step for retailers who have droves of printed material and are looking for an engaging way to drive consumers. Augmented Reality advertising not only captures audiences for a longer duration, but also funnels traffic to their web pages, and other campaigns. In this ecosystem, Augmented Reality advertising is bringing print to life and the applications are only growing.

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Marketing collateral is only impactful when it is viewed in a set place, and grabs a specific audience. Whether this is done in a coffee shop, mall, or any other brick & mortar, marketing campaigns are useful for only as long they as they have grabbed attention. However, with the function of Augmented Reality advertising, not only does it drive more call to actions, but it can live on a user’s smart device indefinitely in the form of app. GPS, geo-fencing and blue tooth beacons provide levels of sophistication to marketers that are still missing from more traditional forms of integrated marketing campaigns. Augmented Reality is still a shiny new tool in the eyes of most marketing teams. To be utilized effectively, consumers need to look beyond the novelty of this impression technology.  Augmented Reality is infinitely customizable and extends the shelf life of digital assets as they can have been moved from physical collateral and then tailored to Augmented Reality content.

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The real draw towards implementing Augmented Reality advertising into integrated marketing campaigns is how easy it is to implement an Augmented Reality advertising campaign. The best platforms cater to a range of clients and offer development along with an easy to use Experience Management System (EMS). A distinguishing feature is that instead of a content management system, marketers are creating a new experience for their audience. This feature is important to note as it stresses the importance of using a platform that can deliver seamless integration into an integrated marketing campaign, based on the level of the user experience. Using the EMS, content can be added, updated, or removed with a few mouse clicks. This level of flexibility allows for ease of use, non-dedicated resources, convenience, and simplicity of Augmented Reality delivery.

To see if you’re ready to explore how to utilize Augmented Reality advertising for your integrated marketing campaign, click here. Alternative, read more about how you can use augmented reality in your marketing.

 

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Top Tech Trends for 2015

Technology changes as quickly as the weather these days, and can be just as difficult to predict.
Luckily Gartner are on hand to do the predicting. Earlier this month Gartner Analyst, David Cearley, presented their top technology trends for the coming year at the firm’s annual expo. Their list shows that the focus is on merging the real world with the virtual one, the implications for analytics and the type of IT needed to deal with it.

The Internet of Things, and everything associated, including smart machines, pervasive analytics and 3D printing, all feature on Gartner’s horizon for 2015.

Let’s take a look at the trends:

Computing Everywhere
As mobile devices continue to proliferate, Gartner predicts an increased emphasis on serving the needs of the mobile user in diverse contexts and environments, as opposed to focusing on devices alone.
“Phones and wearable devices are now part of an expanded computing environment that includes such things as consumer electronics and connected screens in the workplace and public space,” said Cearley. “Increasingly, it’s the overall environment that will need to adapt to the requirements of the mobile user. This will continue to raise significant management challenges for IT organizations as they lose control of user endpoint devices. It will also require increased attention to user experience design.”

The Internet of Things
The combination of data streams and services created by digitizing everything creates four basic usage models—manage, monetize, operate and extend. These four basic models can be applied to any of the four “Internets.” Enterprises should not limit themselves to thinking that only the Internet of Things (IoT) (assets and machines) has the potential to leverage these four models.

3D Printing
Worldwide shipments of 3D printers are expected to grow 98% in 2015, followed by a doubling of unit shipments in 2016. 3D printing will reach a tipping point over the next three years as the market for relatively low-cost 3D printing devices continues to grow rapidly and industrial use expands significantly.

Cloud/Client Computing
“Cloudis the new style of elastically scalable, self-service computing, and both internal applications and external applications will be built on this new style,” said Cearley. “While network and bandwidth costs may continue to favour apps that use the intelligence and storage of the client device effectively, coordination and management will be based in the cloud.”

Advanced, Pervasive and Invisible Analytics
Analytics will take center stage as the volume of data generated by embedded systems increases and vast pools of structured and unstructured data inside and outside the enterprise are analysed

“Every app now needs to be an analytic app,” said Cearley. “Organizations need to manage how best to filter the huge amounts of data coming from the IoT, social media and wearable devices, and then deliver exactly the right information to the right person, at the right time. Analytics will become deeply, but invisibly embedded everywhere.”

Context-Rich Systems
Ubiquitous embedded intelligence combined with pervasive analytics will drive the development of systems that are alert to their surroundings and able to respond appropriately. Context-aware security is an early application of this new capability, but others will emerge.

Smart Machines
Deep analytics applied to an understanding of context provide the preconditions for a world of smart machines. This foundation combines with advanced algorithms that allow systems to understand their environment, learn for themselves, and act autonomously.

Software-Defined Applications and Infrastructure
Agile programming of everything from applications to basic infrastructure is essential to enable organizations to deliver the flexibility required to make the digital business work. Software-defined networking, storage, data centers and security are maturing. Cloud services are software-configurable through API calls, and applications, too, increasingly have rich APIs to access their function and content programmatically.

Web-Scale IT
Web-scale IT is a pattern of global-class computing that delivers the capabilities of large cloud service providers within an enterprise IT setting. More organizations will begin thinking, acting and building applications and infrastructure like Web giants such as Amazon, Google and Facebook. Web-scale IT does not happen immediately, but will evolve over time as commercial hardware platforms embrace the new models and cloud-optimized and software-defined approaches reach mainstream.

Risk-Based Security and Self-Protection
The path to the digital future leads through security. However, in a digital business world, security cannot be a roadblock that stops all progress. Organizations will increasingly recognize that it is not possible to provide a 100% secured environment. Once this is acknowledged, they can begin to apply more-sophisticated risk assessment and mitigation tools.

This will lead to new models of building security directly into applications. Perimeters and firewalls are no longer enough; every app needs to be self-aware and self-protecting.

 

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Augmented Reality – The 8th Mass Medium

We love this engaging and educational TEDx Talk by Tomi Ahonen that demonstrates some of the latest thinking and explains why augmented reality will literally change the way that we look at the world.

Some of the facts and predictions might surprise you!

Tomi Ahonen was rated the most influential expert in mobile by Forbes in January 2012. He released his twelfth book in 2011 and is the most published author in the mobile industry. A widely respected figure in the industry, Tomi is referenced in over 120 books.

 

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