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Following our earlier post “Making Augmented Reality mainstream – today” it was interesting to see the title of “Augmented Reality going mainstream at Nokia” earlier this month in their betalabs blog. The sense of Augmented Reality reaching a powerful tipping point is becoming thick in the air but what substance is there to it?

With mixed reviews on the Nokia blog about the Point and Find application, it seems there are enough symbian lovers out there championing the Finnish based giant and it will be interesting to watch this space. As Terri who authored the above mentioned post mentions “Stay tuned for more exciting news about augmented reality from Nokia!”.

Augmented Reality demo

Augmented Reality demo and examples

At Explore Engage we have worked across various types of creative Augmented Reality applications on the Symbian platform. Some have been mere animations triggered by print or TV/on-screen images, some have gone further than that and included dynamic time sensitive mobile offers or instant win competitions facilitating digital, cash, product and money can’t buy prizes.

In analysing market acceptance, it is curious to observe the future prediction teaser video from Nokia which featured of course a Finnish beauty and romantic sms interlude between her and a picnic loving Romeo. Posted in September 2009, this look into the future video features 363 likes and 70 dislikes. See the video here:

As the video explains “This concept allows to you to experience immersion and effortless navigation in new ways. New types of interactions involving near-to-eye displays, gaze direction tracking, 3D audio, 3D video, gesture and touch. Through these new types of social linkages people will be connected in innovative ways between the physical and digital worlds” – Nokia Research Centre.

In looking at the adoption of augmented reality into the mainstream, we predicted last year that handset manufacturers would start using the technology as a sales hook to entice people to upgrade to smartphones. Following this prediction we saw a number of manufacturers follow suit like Samsung Electronics who used Layar as the leading feature of many advertisements for its hit smartphone model Galaxy S, last year’s top iPhone rival, which generated revenues of $5 billion.

In August 2009, when Wired magazine claimed “If you’re not seeing data, you’re not seeing”, AR was still more whimsy than real world to the VC world and almost unknown to the common man. Now we see key stakeholders in technology adoption Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Nokia, Qualcomm and Samsung developing AR strategies.

Nokia still being a market leader in number of handsets world wide has an incredible opportunity to take advantage of the exponential growth in interest and applications for augmented reality. At the same time, fellow market leaders are not standing still on AR developments. It will be interesting to revisit this blog entry and related links in January 2012 to see how the handset race to Augmented Reality leadership unfolds.

Kiitos.

An interesting discussion arose on Linkedin in the past few weeks courtesy of Essi Saravuo as part of “Augmented Reality and Virtual Worlds”

In this thread I stated “AR is already a large part of our lives as it drives trust in retail try on applications, assurance in product visualisations, deeper engagement in marketing”. It was then later said Augmented Reality still doesn’t give people a “REASON to save money, make money or tickle senses”. Ah huh – it comes back to money. Agreed, however perhaps also saving lives can be considered, making lives easier to bear in the way of assistive technology or amusement.

Explore Engage try on jewelrySo here is the crux of my reply in regards to monetization in particular:

Taking try on applications as one example and lets look at what can constitute a REASON for uptake.

Saving money = consumer doesn’t have to drive to store and spend time wandering the mall. Business doesn’t have to refold clothes ad nauseum and may even prevent loss with AR.

Making money = business drives more traffic to site as they offer more convenience with AR try on or visualised products in situ. Extended PR opportunities also convert to some measurable ROI.

Tickles senses = consumers for the large part in the initial phase of flirting with a fashion product for example wish to see a super model, something aspirational. In the purchase decision phase, they want to see products on themselves or in situ relevant to their chosen environment.

Also, if we call Microsoft Kinect AR in one sense or another, then there are 10′s of millions of reasons to claim senses are tickled there.

Microsoft xbox - kinectAs an example of a try on application and solving the mystery of whether certain pieces of jewelry suit your face or fashion style, Explore Engage have created a try on jewelry application to be launched this week. Commercially speaking,  I think previous participants got it dead right about monetization being the key to Augmented Reality success…no arguments there…I think some of us are on that last little bit of the beginning of the roller coaster ride about to accelerate when the penny drops around the world and seamlessly, augmented reality becomes part of our lives. Some people will be fully aware and about to take that acceleration into very interesting business as AR will blend into our everyday lives – you can count on that.

The bottom line is, innovation budgets are not going to get that wild ride going in the mainstream but they will tease out ideas – 95% one off successful PR stunts, handy utility or amusing/non-amusing blunders…5% ongoing and useful…perhaps a norm for any innovative spend. When AR is given mainstream funding and placed front and centre (as opposed to 4 clicks back from home page and deep in the appstore), with the right people at the helm, with half decent agency/client input – hold on for the wild ride.

The Oprah Opera House Prepares for Take Off

Future tourist opportunities may be sampled by simply putting on the shades and it is not that far around the corner. Explore Engage based in Sydney Australia have been developing hardware and creative solutions using augmented reality across web, mobile and head mounted display. At present Tourism Australia is hosting Oprah Winfrey with shows filmed from the Opera House forecourt as part of an Australian love fest showing off landmarks and experiences to the world. Explore Engage show us another way to achieve the experience of Australia’s greatest assets.

using augmented reality, the team at Explore Engage have found another way to excite a worldwide audience

(PRWEB) December 15, 2010 — Tourist operators the world over sell experiences largely on the premise of experiencing a landmark or live performance in their natural locations. They do this with many challenges especially in the past few years of poor economy, however still people desire to get out of town or travel abroad. So, with almost infinite choices on where to go, how can you help direct and prioritise people’s desire to visit your theme park, your performance or your country?

Interactive web, mobile and head mounted display augmented reality experiences offer terrific tourism promotional results
Interactive web, mobile and head mounted display augmented reality experiences offer terrific tourism promotional results

Tourism Australia have hosted Oprah Winfrey and 300 odd special guests in the past several days with phenomenal success and sunshine. Alternatively using augmented reality, the team at Explore Engage have found another way to excite a worldwide audience and for an example the Opera House and Sydney Harbour have been transported to Sydney Football Stadium. How do they do that?

The team from Explore Engage have looked at how the tourism industry operators can entice visitors with an experience that is hard to transport, verbally convey and sell off a plain printed brochure. Working with the premise of the chinese proverb “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand”, the highly interactive experience of augmented reality with a mobile device or head mounted wearable display allows you to feel immersed in a mixed reality experience almost as though you are there.

As per the video you see in this story, high quality 3D animation mixed with live camera view can enable the most amazing experiences not seen before. Greater appreciation of site visits or performances for education or entertainment motivations can now be accessed thanks to the work of Explore Engage. Not only can actual landmarks or performances be super-imposed on any environment, magical special effects enjoyed in movies can also be cleverly mixed in to offer another level of entertainment for Olympics, Superbowls and other large events or simply to help educate and entertain in our regular life activities.

Part of the beauty of augmented reality is that it can speak all languages. Not only can your experience be a visual treat like never seen before, it can also be highly personalised with interchangeable language options enabling “floating” text tagged to items or landmark points of interest. You can now have more opportunity to explain directions, activities and related merchandise to your guests or special audience no matter where they are from.

About Explore Engage:
Explore Engage is a 3D augmented reality specialist and leader across web, mobile and head mounted display. Based in Sydney, Australia and working with worldwide clients Explore Engage focusses on user experience and innovation. Brands such as McDonalds, Kia, HSBC, Opera Australia and major national and international sporting codes amongst others have produced world’s first augmented reality applications with Explore Engage. The company works with clients directly and agencies to achieve affordable, accessible and superior interactive experiences.

Contact:
Email: scott(at)exploreengage(dot)com
Cell: +61 429 661 814
Twitter: @exploreengage
www.exploreengage.com
www.facebook.com/exploreengage
www.youtube.com/user/exploreengage
www.vimeo.com/exploreengage

Juniper Research has published a list of the top ten trends for the mobile and wireless industry in 2011.

Last year it expected mobile data traffic to strain network operators; something that’s expected to continue in 2011. The full list is available as a free download from the Juniper Research website.

Augmented Reality

1. Surging mobile data traffic will continue to test 3G network capacity
Tiered pricing is expected to increase.

2. Augmented Reality to enhance mobile games and retail
Augmented Reality is now attracting the attention of the retail industry… and an increasing number of AR-based games are also expected.

3. Cloud-based operating systems are launched
Mobile operating systems are expected to follow PCs with the launch of the first cloud OS for mobile.

4. Mobile banking will become a ‘must-have’ when opening a new account
Developed countries will see banks using apps and smartphones to provide an improved, personalised service experience.

5. Mobile devices begin to replace credit cards
Using your phone as a credit card for lower value purchases will become a reality in some countries.

6. Mobile handsets become even more sensitive
Accelerometers, gyroscopes and GPS will start to become standard – and other sensors will be incorporated.

7. Mobile lottery tickets sales to soar fuelled by deployments in US, Europe and China
Mobile lotteries will hit the mainstream, with launches across the US and Europe.

8. Mobile-specific threats lead to demand for mobile-specific security
Expect a move by anti-virus software vendors to sell into the mobile space in 2011.

9. Buyouts take social purchasing to a new level
Google’s rumoured plans to purchase Groupon could transform shopping on mobile phones.

10. More vendors develop a GreenHeart
Sony Ericsson’s GreenHeart eco-friendly products could lead a similar move by other manufacturers.

At Explore Engage we believe in placing user experience at the highest possible levels.When progressing technology to a place of more rewarding and natural user experience we have been challenged by reliability, scale and technology parameters.

iPhone smartphone Grocery applicationWhat is encouraging is that we have met a tipping point where Apples iPhone for instance has shown that the power of brand love can overcome flaws in technology.  Some of us have had unfortunate experiences with temperamental iPhones devices and apps, however generally these devices are still providing great entertainment and utility and are making enormous impact on reducing click barriers, clunky menu options and machine driven interfaces.

Anecdotes of  children as young as two working out the iPhone operations with stretch, pinch, tap, swipe, flick, press etc.  are becoming more common place. Ironically this same evolution of a more natural gesture driven human computer interface can allow the less tech savvy to navigate with much less apprehension. That in itself could potentially unlock various life changing intelligence and establish new relationships. One step further than the iPhone, Microsoft Kinect now moves the power of natural gestures from the finger and hands and brings it to the whole body. These are exciting times.

So when the opportunity arose to assist Albert Hwang aka Phedhex, with his Kickstarter request, we jumped at it.

Looking forward to seeing the third part of the series come together.

We see these kind of concepts blending in to our companies overall vision for progress and evolution of augmented reality consumption from web, mobile and to head mounted displays.

For more information on augmented reality projects please go to http://www.exploreengage.com

Black Eyed Pea's have recently launched a new music clip called the beginning which features some accessible augmented reality concepts. Interesting to see Blackberry featured discreetly as part of this representation

Augmented Reality is now becoming part of our everyday lives from pop-culture film clip concepts, trying on clothes to assistive technology for disabled. The cynics of this technology are getting a run for their money, the advertising budgets are opening and the audience is warmly accepting, blogging and consuming augmented information and activities…but why?

AR in sport

Naturally we are all seeking human computer interaction with less hardware weighing us down, with less technical disconnections. Like it or not, we are only getting more technology affectionate and dependent…in the macro view not really possible to separate the two perhaps. Hand gestures, voice control, visualisation with augmented information on our real life view makes total sense and cynics are increasingly taking a back seat and are comprehending the impact of this amazing technology.

Explore Engage is one of the leading creative and hardware Augmented Reality companies in the world and has hosted work for a range of brands and industry applications. Focusing on one of the most hotly anticipated technologies of 2010 as reported by the likes of Times magazine, Explore Engage has innovation at its core. Innovations that are born from seemingly innocuous kids games may translate to life saving or rehabilitating purposes down the track. We look forward to working with the emerging Augmented Reality industry to make 2011 an even more exciting time across many industries.

One of the events we are excited to be working with is AIME 2011. AIME is the premier event in the Southern Hemisphere for the meetings, incentive, convention and exhibition industries now in its 19th year and jointly organised by REED Exhibitions. Over November this year we have worked with the Melbourne Exhibition and Conference Centre to create an exclusive 3D animation experience that has truly tested the boundaries of natural feature tracking a DL invite and triggering a highly detailed and entertaining 3D storyline.

An exciting forward thinking events organisation

The premier event in the Southern Hemisphere

Exhibitors at AIME include:

Airlines, Associations, Attractions, Audio Visual & Technical Companies, Catering Companies, Convention & Exhibition Venues, Convention & Tourism Bureaux Specialists, Corporate Hospitality, Corporate Merchandise Companies, Cruise Lines / Luxury Trains, Destinations, Destination Management Companies, Entertainment Companies, Event Management Specialists, Event Photography, Event Production Companies, Exhibition Organisers & Contractors, Ground Agents, Hotel/sResorts & Spas, Incentive Houses, Meeting & Conference Planners, National Tourist Organisations, Professional Conference Organisers, Promotional Products & Services Publications, Registration Companies, Speakers Bureaux, Team Building, Companies, Technology Providers, Theme & Attraction Parks, Themeing & Decorative, Tour Operators, Trade Publications, Transport Operators, Venues, Venues with a Difference

There are so many exciting and rewarding augmented reality applications for all of the above. As our company enjoys a challenge and working with clients focus on budget and return on investment, we welcome a range of enquiry from all related businesses. Get in touch today by emailing scott [@ ] exploreengage.com

At www.exploreengage.com we have been keeping our heads down all year and have broken many barriers and worked with some great clients around the world. So now its about time we start announcing some of these breakthroughs.

Today we are telling the world of the fun we had bringing Unity AR to iPhone. Unity is such a joy to work with and we are taking enquiry on licensing arrangements so you can enjoy the same thrills. For more information go to www.exploreengage.com

Our first Augmented Reality projects with Unity have featured a multi-player planet game and a puppet AR application. Both of these will soon release on the appstore. Since having success with Unity AR to iPhone we have worked on a few applications for famous entertainment brands and sporting applications.

This is the first Unity AR app on the iPhone

"Rrrrrrr" - hand gesture controlled puppet on your iPhone

Augmented Reality is definitely leading the way in interactive digital media applications in 2010 and we see it only increasing in 2011 as smartphone devices and website visits prove AR is the future. Explore Engage works across web, mobile and head mounted display augmented reality applications to offer very competitive value.

Enjoy our channels:

www.youtube.com/exploreengage

www.vimeo.com/exploreengageUnity AR – Puppet pirate application

In the marketing of Augmented Reality how tempting is the AR on the end of everything? A little corny…but I mean Layar makes perfect sense…right? Get it? Kudos to the dutch for that smart and simple name which can describe what our new information revolution is all about.

Perhaps adoption and conversion is as simple as the name telling the story. In any case it is refreshing that in a society that has become very materialistic, we see an imaginary digitized new layer of the world open up that no government, corporate entity or others really have strict rights to. This can perhaps be perceived as total democracy and freedom to express and inform or complete anarchy. Will be interesting to see what different people focus on and feel grateful or threatened by.

The broad question is how tempting is AR to be used in our everyday life? Sure it has its “magic” and “gimmick” side but so did TV at some stage in the early Brian Henderson days. Maybe other communications devices had their birthing struggles too. It’s not like every need for a technology item is fed to us whilst receiving eye drops to some weirdo movie and classical music. Not every technology gets a fair go Glynis.

I dare raise a quote that I have no reference to cite at all. I feel the urge to raise it nonetheless. I once heard that Alexander Graham Bell took one year to realise the telephone was to call people. For that year he was apparently firm in the belief the phone was for relaying the news and theatre audio.1 year. 12 months of thinking the “old way”.

Well well…in our “smart” generation, with all our “intelligence”, will it take us a year to work out the practical and amusing benefits of supplying highly contextualised real time data for practical situations and detailed animation for visualisation of 3D objects and detailed or simple animation for objects aimed for amusement?

I hope we have progressed and become smarter, quicker and more intelligent in the last century.

Another modern invention IVR is perhaps a great metaphor of good ideas or communication opportunities getting stuck in the system. Like many things in life though, call progress can struggle to get past the IVR to a real human to take action. So why not lets say the equivalent to IVR in the corporate world is the stuck in the mud mid 50s executive whose thumbs are too big to text and technology is great if you already have 2-3 years of financials to prove the business model. You have to admit it is a talent to come up with these catch 22 proposals that stifle innovation, improvement and a better life…but understandably the motivation whether right or wrong is people wanting to safeguard their jobs by not trying to much new.

Ironically it is the technology of augmented reality combined with various methods of detection and recognition that will help our mid 50s executive friend send texts, emails and other communications even more “intuitively” than pen to paper. So now it is up to a talented group of technology pioneers to truly reveal the full potential. 2010 is going to be an extremely interesting year to look back on for Augmented Reality adoption. 2009 was the tip of the iceberg with figures being suggested of 500M people being exposed to the technology.

So we have reached the tipping point where solutions overcome the range of platforms and where data speeds burn rubber on our outdated cyber highways. For whatever reasons web-cameras became a compulsory item in our very tidy mobile laptops, they perhaps have served inadvertently as the front-line for the advertising and marketing sector to claim bragging rights as the instigator of mainstream acceptance/force fed(?) augmented reality. Either way its a start and frankly there will always be people cringing at the “gimmick” use of a new technology.

As long as the focus is on the practical and the amusing in healthy doses of each and the aim is to improve our perceived value of day to day life, then both applications of AR is all for the best. Respect the professionals, scientists and academics. Respect the marketeers and entertainers. Either way, with everything we have seen so far, the technology is only going to play a greater role in our everyday lives and many positive useful and entertaining applications will be our reward for the investment and open mind to see things we have not seen before.

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