What You Will Learn
- 1 Augmented Reality Foundations
- 2 What does Augmented Reality Sound Like?
- 3 Creating New Artistic Experiences with Augmented Reality
- 4 Drinking Up Augmented Reality with AR Cocktails
- 5 Gloo: Crowdfunding Meets Augmented Reality Marketing
- 6 The Start-Up Using Augmented Reality to Clean Up The Real World
- 7 Experiencing the Royal Wedding in Augmented Reality Prince Harry Meghan Markle
- 8 Thousands of Augmented Reality Beacons Installed at Gatwick Airport
- 9 NFL App Lets Fans Paint Their Faces With Augmented Reality
- 10 Escaping from Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality Foundations
Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities, including visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory and olfactory.
Augmented reality is the result of using technology to superimpose information — sounds, images and text — on the world we see. Picture the “Minority Report” or “Iron Man” style of interactivity.
Augmented reality vs. virtual reality
This is rather different from virtual reality. Virtual reality means computer-generated environments for you to interact with, and be immersed in. Augmented reality (also known as AR), adds to the reality you would ordinarily see rather than replacing it.
Augmented reality in today’s world
Augmented reality is often presented as a kind of futuristic technology, but a form of it has been around for years. For example, the heads-up displays in many fighter aircraft as far back as the 1990s would show information about the attitude, direction and speed of the plane, and only a few years later they could show which objects in the field of view were targets.
In the past decade, various labs and companies have built devices that give us augmented reality. In 2009, the MIT Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces Group presented SixthSense, a device that combined the use of a camera, small projector, smartphone and mirror. The device hangs from the user’s chest in a lanyard fashion from the neck. Four sensor devices on the user’s fingers can be used to manipulate the images projected by SixthSense.
Google rolled out Google Glass in 2013, moving augmented reality to a more wearable interface; in this case, glasses. It displays on the user’s lens screen via a small projector and responds to voice commands, overlaying images, videos and sounds onto the screen. Google pulled Google Glass at the end of December 2015.
As it happens, phones and tablets are the way augmented reality gets into most people’s lives. Vito Technology’s Star Walk app, for instance, allows a user to point the camera in their tablet or phone at the sky and see the names of stars and planets superimposed on the image. Another app called Layar uses the smartphone’s GPS and its camera to collect information about the user’s surroundings. It then displays information about nearby restaurants, stores and points of interest.
Some apps for tablets and phones work with other objects as well. Disney Research developed an AR coloring book, in which you color in a character in a conventional (though app-compatible) book and launch the app on the device. The app accesses the camera and uses it to detect which character you are coloring, and uses software to re-create the character in 3D character on the screen.
One of the most popular ways AR has infiltrated everyday life is through mobile games. In 2016, the AR game “Pokémon Go” became a sensation worldwide, with over 100 million estimated users at its peak, according to CNET. It ended up making more than $2 billion and counting, according to Forbes. The game allowed users to see Pokémon characters bouncing around in their own town. The goal was to capture these pocket monsters, then use them to battle others, locally, in AR gyms.
In 2018, “Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery” became the mobile AR gaming sensation. The game lets users see the Hogwarts world around them while having the ability to cast spells, use potions and to learn from Hogwarts teachers. As of this writing, the game had around 10 million downloads in the Google Play store.
Researchers are also developing holograms, which can take VR a step further, since holograms can be seen and heard by a crowd of people all at once.
“While research in holography plays an important role in the development of futuristic displays and augmented reality devices, today we are working on many other applications, such as ultrathin and lightweight optical devices for cameras and satellites,” researcher Lei Wang, a doctoral student at the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering, said in a statement.
The future of augmented reality
This doesn’t mean that phones and tablets will be the only venue for AR. Research continues apace on including AR functionality in contact lenses, and other wearable devices. The ultimate goal of augmented reality is to create a convenient and natural immersion, so there’s a sense that phones and tablets will get replaced, though it isn’t clear what those replacements will be. Even glasses might take on a new form, as “smart glasses” are developed for blind people.
Like any new technology, AR has a lot of political and ethical issues. Google Glass, for example, raised privacy concerns. Some worried that conversations might be surreptitiously recorded or pictures snapped, or thought that they might be identified by face recognition software. AR glasses, contacts and more, like the Glass -- X and Google Lens, though, are moving ahead in production and sales.
What does Augmented Reality Sound Like?
Last year Bose unveiled its Augmented Reality glasses frames – still at prototype stage – at their pop-up experiential activation on Rainy Street.
Bose calls this the world’s first audio augmented reality platform.
This year, they are back at that same Rainy Street bar to continue the story and share what progress they’ve made over the past 12 months. The current Frames were released in January and are described by Bose as “the world’s first audio augmented reality platform.” Like sunglasses, they block up to 99% of UVA/UVB rays and feature uniformly-tinted lenses.
Like sunglasses, they block up to 99% of UVA/UVB rays and feature uniformly-tinted lenses.
But this is where the similarities with regular sunglasses end: For starters, they have “a minuscule, wafer-thin acoustic package” that is “set seamlessly in each arm’s interior — rather than an earbud.” This allows for “discreet” personal listening. They are made with Augmented Sound technology, there is no visual element. It augments your sound experience because “it knows where you are and what you’re facing using a 9-axis head motion sensor and the GPS from your iOS or Android device.” Using that data, it “automatically adds a layer of audio, connecting that place and time.”
This sense of sound, orientation and place can be used for a variety of situations. That’s part of what brought Bose to SXSW. According to their representative “one of the reasons we’re here at South by is there’s a really great community of content creators and developers that we want to talk to and see how we can best support the development efforts.”
The sunglasses work nicely as headphones. They tap on or off. The sound is quite discreet. It is not a bone conduction system, as some may have assumed. The representative explains “one of the troubles with bone conduction is that you don’t really get a great quality sound.” This system is “a totally proprietary acoustic system that’s actually taking a real speaker driver and playing music no differently than a speaker would through this port, using these geometry supports to cancel it in the far field.”
When you put the glasses on “you’re getting a full volume speaker into your ear but then 99 percent of that gets canceled by the time it reaches the outside of your ear. ” The end result is that you can hear your sound, as well as sounds from the outside world, but other people can’t hear your sound. So no one knows what music, or questionable audiobook, you’re listening to.
But the Frames are designed to be more than “sunglasses headphones,” hence the “reaching out to the developer community.” They want to inspire developers to make apps for the Frames. Bose will also be making headphones that contain the same Augmented Sound qualities as the Frames. Apps made for the Frames will also work on those headphones.
A wafer-thin acoustic package set seamlessly in each arm’s interior allows for discreet personal listening.
It augments your sound experience because “it knows where you are and what you’re facing using a 9-axis head motion sensor and the GPS from your iOS or Android device.
Golfshot, an app that helps golfers with on-course GPS, scoring, statistics, and tee times, is here at this event to show how their app uses Bose Frames. John, the lead native developer of Golfshot, explains: “Bose actually reached out to us, they had some developers who used our product and they just thought it would be a good integration so they contacted us and we went from there.”
One aspect of their app is providing GPS data for the golf courses. Normally, you’d have to take out your phone, a forbidden act on some courses, but “with Bose AR you just keep it in your pocket and tap on your frames from anywhere on the course and contextually, based on where you are in your GPS location, we give you whatever information you need.” You can get course data without getting out your phone, or getting in trouble.
In the future, they’d like to utilize “the compass information” that the glasses can collect. John explains that “sometimes you’re teeing off and you have trees in your way or a different elevation, you don’t know if you want to pull to this or the other side of the fairway and that can make a big difference in the golfer’s game.”
Normally you’d have to get in your cart and drive out to see then return, “ but, with this, we can just project your visual out with the glasses and find the green for you, or you can see it on your mobile device, but if you don’t want to pull out your phone you can just double tap your frames.”
The way that the current app works is by using “3D audio cues so if you double tap you get a ringing in your ear.
Bose will also be making headphones that contain the same Augmented Sound qualities as the Frames.
The way that the current app works is by using “3D audio cues so if you double tap you get a ringing in your ear. It’s almost like a radar system and as soon as you find the green it will go to a solid tone, and then you know, okay, I need to hit over to this side.” With the glasses, you can turn your head one way, listen to the beeping, and keep turning your head till the solid sound lets you know you are facing the right way.
GolfshotGPS is just one possible use case for the Frames. It should be interesting seeing what the future holds for Augmented Reality and sound.
Creating New Artistic Experiences with Augmented Reality
Artists and galleries are embracing immersive technology to create an emotional connection to their audiences.
Art has been a relative latecomer to the digital revolution – at least where we’re referring to the traditional/classic end of the spectrum – people are used to associating the value of art to seeing it in person, hence the fact that museums and art galleries still rely on special exhibitions for a large share of their revenue. At the time of the app’s first launch ArtFinder Co-founder Chris Thorpe told the Guardian that “The emphasis on art history and institutes has taken away the visceral, emotional experience of art. That experience and excitement should make you what to know more and deepen your engagement with it.”
Art has been a relative latecomer to the digital revolution.
Artfinder built an IMDB-style searchable digital catalogue with hundreds of thousands of paintings, sculptures, and art-related media. The site also contains essays on artists, artworks and artistic movements, making it a useful (and free) reference resource for art discovery, while social open up new opportunities for enjoying art. It allows you to virtually collect and share your favourite artworks, and as users build up a profile that reflects their particular tastes, the system also generates further recommendations of artists and pieces that they might like.
Artfinder built an IMDB-style searchable digital catalogue with hundreds of thousands of paintings, sculptures, and art-related media.
Thorpe believes this element of recommendations when combined with geo-location, adds a crucial element of serendipity to art discovery and keeps that physical connection to the real world which is so crucial to connecting emotionally with a piece of artwork.
“It means that when you’re in Gateshead, the ArtFinder app can suggest that you go to the Baltic. But on a finer grain, because we know where the pictures are held, we can say the next time you’re at Moma, remember to see Starry Night by Van Gogh.”
For Artivive CEO Codin Popescu, however the experiential element will always be central to how people enjoy and relate to artworks. The key, he believes, is to use immersive technologies such as Augmented Reality to seamlessly add digital elements to those existing and well-loved experiences, making them richer and more accessible in the process.
They want to become the go-to solution for artists, galleries and creators and change the way art is created and consumed while building a community and movement around augmented reality art.
I met Popescu at the Pioneers conference in Vienna in May, where Artivive had won the “Best Austrian Startup” category in the event’s competition. He told me that although his company was only founded in 2017, it had already accrued over 60,000 downloads, with users spending a collective 1.3 million minutes engaging with art via the app. In the past year alone, over 2000 artists in 65 countries have used the platform, supporting over 100 exhibitions 1.5+ million scans nearly 5k original artworks.
“For an artist to create in augmented reality they previously had to build their own isolated solutions, which required technical skills and resources, but now those artists can take visitors on a journey in time and explain what lies behind, enhance the art with illustrations or show how the artworks were made. For museums, exhibitions, galleries and other art institutions it offers a new and innovative way for the audience to interact with the exhibits.”
They so far worked with many of the top museums in Vienna such as the Belvedere and MAK – The Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art as well as many international venues. For the Albertina Museum in Vienna they also created digital content for the exhibition “Film Stills” and integrated AR experiences to the permanent collection “Monet to Picasso”
Artivive has worked with many of the top museums in Vienna such as the Belvedere and MAK.
One of the examples in which this has already changed the gallery-visitor’s experience is that instead of the enormous and outdated audio guides upon which galleries have traditionally relied – and which many still cling on to – visitors can now navigate multi-sensory personalized experiences on their own mobile devices.
The fact that in such a short time Artivive boosts a turnover of over €150,000 also shows the monetizing potential for the technology, as does the fact that main platforms are making deliberate moves to supporting the sector. At Google I/O this year one of the most popular demos I went to showcased how ARCore could be used to augment both 2D and 3D artworks.
Artivive has accrued over 60,000 downloads, with users spending a collective 1.3 million minutes engaging with art via the app.
Bridging the Physical and Digital
“Art is at the very top of the luxury pyramid,” says Sebastian Cwilich, co-founder of Artsy, an online platform started in 2012 for learning about and collecting art, which recently launched an AR feature that allows users to virtually “hang” works from their nearly one million artwork database onto their own walls. In helping buyers visualize the pieces in context they are overcoming one of the key challenges of buying art online—not being able to see the work in person.
Digital natives relate differently to the art market, since technology allows you to source your materials from a practically endless database unrestricted by geographical borders.
This year’s Hiscox Online Art Trade Report revealed that online art market broaden buyer’s interest in cross-collecting, and art buyers are generally turning channel neutral, with mobile commerce gaining traction.
Blockchain-powered platform called Maecenas matches art owners with investors, increasing transparency and reducing costs. Crucially, it democratizes the process by allowing smaller investors to buy a fractional share in pieces valued at $1 million or more.
Digital natives relate differently to the art market.
Whatever combination of technologies proves most disruptive to the entrenched practices of art production and marketing, the art business needs to find ways of engaging the next generation of buyers.
Magnus, the app that bills itself as the “Shazam for art” adds to this transparency-led empowerment by letting users snap a picture of any artwork and instantly find out information such as title, artist name, price and exhibition history. Founded in April 2016 by German entrepreneur Magnus Resch and managed to attract investment from the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, but it has also faced serious issues as many galleries accused it of essentially stealing their data under false pretenses. This protectionism and grey areas around image usage rights perhaps explains the somewhat slower progress of art-based tech in relation to other creative industries.
The bottom line is that whatever combination of technologies proves most disruptive to the entrenched practices of art production and marketing, the art business needs to find ways of engaging the next generation of buyers. And these are people who must be reached in their own turf – which is bound to be predominantly digital rather than analog.
Drinking Up Augmented Reality with AR Cocktails
A London bar is using AR technology to infuse its new cocktail menu with a shot of artistic imagery.
MIRAGE is billed as the world’s first drinkable tech menu. It was 18 months in the making and involved the development of a purpose-built Augmented Reality app created by Mustard Designs which was unveiled at Jason Atherton’s City Social Michelin-starred restaurant and bar this month.
#miragecocktails is billed as the world’s first drinkable tech menu.
“Once the app is pointed in the direction of the drink, the augmented reality technology comes into play, transforming the guest’s perception of the cocktail and bringing their surroundings to vivid life,” explains Atherton
Inspired by an eclectic range of artists from Banksy to Van Gogh, the idea is to turn each of the 12 serves on offer into an interactive art experience. The menu was put together by Jamie Jones and Tim Laferla, well-known names in the trendy bar scene. The carefully designed recipes deploy a varied selection of techniques and flavour profiles and use premium spirits from companies like Pernod Ricard, Diageo, William Chase and G’Vine.
Cocktail recipes are inspired by different artists, from Banksy to Van Gogh.
Dogstone Brew takes its inspiration from the Victorian era, blending Hendrick’s Gin, port, bergamot, black tea split milk and orchid root to create a clarified milk punch cocktail with floral notes and a long finish. The accompanying AR imagery then complement that theme with some floating Victoriana-style balloons that look rather Monty Python-esque.
Sashay is a nod to the iconic Art Nouveau posters of the late 1800 and early 1900s, featuring a woman reclining in a chaise longue to go with the heady blend of Perrier Jouët Belle Époque Champagne, Japanese plum wine, jasmine and liquorice.
Sashay is a nod to the iconic Art Nouveau posters of the late 1800s.
Impressionism fans might want to sample the Van Gogh-themed Wheatfields with Fizz: a mix of Ketel One Vodka, elderflower, bee pollen, lager and egg white to be experienced alongside the master’s paintings ‘Starry Night’, ‘Wheatfields with Crows’ and ‘View of Arles’.
Impressionism fans might want to sample the Van Gogh-themed Wheatfields with Fizz.
Located on the 24th floor of Tower 42 – one of the iconic City of London skyscrapers –City Social was opened in 2014, and the restaurant headed by chef Paul Walsh was awarded a Michelin star in 2015.
“Jamie and I want our drinks to be amongst the world’s best and we hope this will really put us on the map,” says Atherton. “We are treating our approach to drinks across the group as seriously as we do our food to ensure quality and creativity shine through.”
#miragecocktails is another example of how brands are exploring Augmented Reality to create immersive, multi-sensory experiences for their users. For those looking for guidance on how to do this, Tech Trends also offers Virtual Reality consultancy services.
#miragecocktails is another example of how brands are exploring Augmented Reality to create immersive, multi-sensory experiences.
Gloo: Crowdfunding Meets Augmented Reality Marketing
Gloo is a stylish wireless charging sation for homes and shared spaces.
After a record-breaking crowdfunding success with $8M raised for the ZeTime hybrid smartwatch, design innovators MyKronoz has just hit Kickstarter again to launch the Deconnect Gloo – a sleek wireless charging station that doubles as an ambient light source. Sounds great but most interestingly Gloo is the first crowdfunding project that enables you to preview exactly how different versions of a new product will look in your own home, via a unique Augmented Reality feature within the companion Deconnect app for iOS.
Deconnect Gloo is a sleek shared wireless charging station that doubles as an ambient light source.
Tech Trends has tested out several AR product apps from big retailers but has yet to see them actually in use by consumers. Now crowdfunding has become a powerhouse of product innovation maybe this is where the trend will finally catch on. After all why wouldn’t you want to see how a new product fits into your space before you have to actually shell out?
Tech Trends has tested out several AR product apps from big retailers but has yet to see them actually in use by consumers.
“The Gloo ecosystem aims to redefine the image of mobile charging – from purely functional, and often unsightly – to something that complements today’s contemporary interiors and connected lifestyles equally. Deconnect is all about the sharp edge of the Internet of things – and with Gloo, form meets function for the first time, whether you’re at home, in a bar or at an airport lounge.” Explained Boris Brault, CEO of Deconnect
Deconnect is all about the sharp edge of IoT -- and with Gloo, form meets function whether you’re at home, in a bar or at an airport lounge.
Unlike existing wireless charging stations, Gloo – available in two sizes, Mini and Regular and with five finishings – aims to seamlessly blend into spaces thanks to its sleek bottle-shape, cable-free design and wireless surface charging technology. Containing a 20,000 mAh battery, Gloo Regular can deliver up to eight full smartphone charges both wirelessly through Qi technology and by USB.
Gloo seamlessly blends into spaces thanks to its sleek bottle-shape, cable-free design and wireless surface charging.
Gloo can also be used as an ambient lighting system, controlled by mobile app or built in touch sensor, to help create whatever atmosphere you’d like in your surroundings. And for those obsessed with selfies and group party pictures, Gloo Regular will soon also be able to take panoramic photos and video thanks to a high resolution Gloo 360 Cam add-on.
For those obsessed with selfies and group party pictures, Gloo will be able to take panoramic photos and video with the Gloo 360 Cam add-on.
“Using Kickstarter is important for us as a means to validate our product innovation, as well as being able to tap into ideas and inspiration for new, compatible accessories that we can develop and launch in 2019,” added Brault.
Gloo, originally conceived of for the home, is also perfect for hotels, bars and restaurants where multiple shared charging stations are needed. Each bottle-shaped Gloo uses Wireless Surface Charging technology, a means of charging that is unique to Gloo and that allows multiple devices to sit against its rounded surface thanks to the product’s customized and patented curved coils. It still needs charging itself, so Gloo is also complemented by a collection of 10W fast charging wireless pads, meticulously crafted using the finest materials, such as marble and carbon fiber, that should appeal to premium smartphone owners.
Each bottle-shaped Gloo allows multiple devices to sit against its rounded surface thanks to the product’s customized and patented curved coils.
Super Early Bird backers who sign up for Gloo via its Kickstarter campaign can get their hands on Gloo Mini for $59 (RRP $99) and Gloo Regular for $119 (RRP $199).
The Start-Up Using Augmented Reality to Clean Up The Real World
“It is estimated that the average cleaning company loses up to 55% of their customer base every year due to poor service,” says Martin Cudzilo. And he’s betting that Augmented Reality will help to change all that.
Cudzilo has over a decade’s worth of experience overseeing cleaning companies and developing technologies to make the cleaning industry more efficient. He’s also CEO and Founder of AR-Check, a start-up which combines AR technology and smart glasses to train, monitor and guide best cleaning practices in real time.
The average cleaning company loses around 55% of their customers every year due to poor service.
The cleaning industry is desperate for a system that brings improvements and standardisation.
The industry is in desperate need for a system that can bring improvements and standardisation while also managing all aspects of the cleaning process, as demand for a reliable maid service is constantly on the rise. This tool will make the industry more effective, more productive and easier to manage and the payoff will be quality results for manageable costs.”
Detailed cleaning instructions are delivered through the company’s patented smart glasses.
The plan is to initially deploy AR-Check mainly in critical industries such as hospitals and hotels, but there are potential applications across a much broader range of sectors such as restaurants, ships, airports or pretty much any large business that requires cleaning services.
AR-Check will be initially employed in critical industries such as hospitals and hotels.
The technology which the company patented delivers detailed visualized cleaning instructions via smart glasses which seem to work along the lines of the Microsoft HoloLens (which means it can also be perhaps described as Mixed Reality depending on who you speak to). It provides functionality that not only gives users a detailed breakdown of what tasks need to be completed, but in what order, what tools and agents to use, the correct tools, and even how much pressure to apply in order to achieve optimum results.
“That all translates into less mistakes, down-time, better quality work, and on-the-spot training,” says Cudzilo
The main USP of AR/MR technology offers in this context is its ability to empower business owners, allowing customers to monitor staff performance in real time based on location, day, time and any other work-specific criteria which can be customised to each client, such as contamination containment.
Customers can use this monitoring data to identify patterns and isolate common problems.
This is yet another great example of the immense commercial possibilities of AR and MR.
Customers can use this monitoring data to identify patterns and isolate common problems, addressing staffing needs and invoicing more accurately according to a detailed record of work completed rather than just hours spent on the premise.
“AR-Check is designed to improve quality and performance, providing greater transparency and cost-savings to the commercial cleaning industry. It will empower businesses to make better, more informed decisions without heavy reliance on cleaning intermediaries, saving money and resources and helping to create best practices that standardise cleaning processes and minimise contamination,” concludes Cudzilo, who is currently raising funding to develop and rollout the technology more widely.
This is yet another great example of the immense transformative possibilities that Augmented and Mixed Reality bring, not only to education and training, but to pretty much every commercial industry sector you can think of, which is why we’re seeing major players and Fortune 500 companies making significant moves towards embracing AR and incorporating it into their broader strategy. Our bet is that 2017 will continue to bring a exponential growth and breakthroughs in this space.
Experiencing the Royal Wedding in Augmented Reality Prince Harry Meghan Markle
As Prince Harry and Meghan Markle prepare to tie the knot this weekend demand for traditional wedding souvenirs is sky high.
“Philip started his creative business in Camden market ten years ago and it quickly evolved into something quite special. The work is often reactionary and sometimes with an LGBT angle.”
You can try it out by downloading the Zappar App for free from the GooglePlay or App Store. T-shirts went on sale for £22.95 from Monday 14th May. The t-shirt has a small zapcode embedded in the design, which once scanned with the Zappar app, enables wearers to choose to either ‘Marry Harry’ or ‘Marry Meghan’. Once in the experience, users can pose for a selfie using the front-facing camera on their smartphone or tablet, placing them within the artwork next to their chosen royal spouse.
“Embedded in the t-shirt is a Zapcode which will bring it to life. You’ll be able to choose whether you want to ‘Marry Harry’ or ‘Marry Meghan’. You can then pose for a selfie next to your chosen royal spouse to share on social media. There’s even the option to be able to donate to the The Albert Kennedy Trust – a LGBT youth homeless charity.”
With Augmented Reality, you can pose for a selfie next to your chosen royal spouse to share on social media.
As part of the AR experience, wearers will also be able to place their selfie onto a piece of royal memorabilia.
#royalwedding will be used across Twitter and Instagram by our augmented reality married couples to share their moment from the app. As part of the AR experience, wearers will also be able to place their selfie onto a piece of royal memorabilia.
There will also be the chance to donate to the designer’s charity of choice; The Albert Kennedy Trust – a LGBT youth homeless charity. The charity was chosen as a legacy link to reflect the charitable community work Princess Diana was so well known for.
“We think that these limited-edition t-shirts are a great example of how illustrative design and AR can work hand-in-hand to bring to life physical objects,” says Max Dawes, Partnerships & Marketing Director at Zappar
Zappar’s recent report with global media agency, Mindshare, Layered which studies consumer’s attitudes towards AR, found that 55% of consumers have a preference for objects that hold additional information when connected to a mobile device, rising to 74% amongst those who have already experienced AR. Read the full report to see how brands are adapting to the rise of this technology.
55% of consumers have a preference for objects that hold additional information when connected to a mobile device.
The Albert Kennedy Trust is the UK’s LGBT youth homelessness charity. It provides safe homes, mentoring, training and support to young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness following coming out to their parents, caregivers or communities. The charity was founded in 1989 and operates service centres in London, Manchester and Newcastle and works across the UK through its digital service, inter-AKT. In 2017, AKT provided over 6,000 nights off the street, over 1,000 hours of mentoring and provided intensive levels of support for over 500 vulnerable young LGBT people.
Thousands of Augmented Reality Beacons Installed at Gatwick Airport
Location-based technology paves the way to contextual personalised information and content for passengers.
Gatwick airport just announced that it installed 2000 indoor navigation beacons to enable Augmented Reality wayfinding, the first airport in the world to do so. The lack of satellite signals makes road-based navigation systems – such as Google or Apple maps – unreliable indoors, so Gatwick has deployed a beacon based positioning system to enable reliable ‘blue dot’ on indoor maps, which in time can be used within a range of mobile airport, airline or third party apps.
A network of 2000 beacons was installed at Gatwick airport.
The system – which is designed to make it easier for passengers to find their way around the airport and avoid missing flights – is part of a £2.5 billion transformation programme for the UK’s second largest airport, which flies around 44 million passengers per year to over 228 destinations in 74 countries contributing £5.3 billion to the nation’s GDP.
Beacon technology will integrate with airport, airline and retailer apps.
The network of battery-powered beacons was deployed in just three weeks (followed by two months of testing and calibration), and now provides a comprehensive system that is not only more reliable than GPS for indoor navigation, but also enables augmented reality wayfinding applications for passengers. What this means in practice is that information can be overlaid onto a user’s mobile camera view in real-time, making it much easier to find check-in desks, departure gates, baggage belts, etc.
“We are proud to be the first airport to deploy augmented reality technology and we hope that this influences other airports and transport providers so that it eventually becomes the norm,” says Gatwick’s Head of IT Commercial & Innovation Abhi Chacko.
The new navigation technology is now being integrated into some of Gatwick’s apps, but the airport is also in discussion with airlines to feature the service on their applications.
AR will make it easier for people to find their way around the airport.
The end-to-end “indoor blue dot” service is managed by PointrLabs, which had previously been involved in various airport projects in the US and Asia. Their CMO Axel Katalan clarifies that the tech stack comes with an indoor map which shows up to date content, positioning with +/-3m accuracy, and navigation technology that is dynamic and recognises, for example, areas currently under construction, or multi floor navigation including when taking lifts, proximity to retailers etc. Developers can easily enable those features on their own apps by using the beacon registry or PointrLabs SDK, he says:
“Our SDK enables battery-optimised, multiplatform and high performance positioning and other features such as 3D wayfinding through AR and on-screen translation, all of which are now available to be used by Gatwick and their partners as simple as drag & drop.”
All this sets the scene for the next logical application of this technology – advertising. Because although Gatwick emphasizes that it will not be collecting data beyond generic information on ‘people densities’ in various beacon zones to help improve operations and reduce congestion, it allows that airlines could go further and obtain consent from passengers to push personalized directions and reminders to individual passengers.
This paves the way for contextual personalised advertising for passengers.
It is then not much of a leap at all to imagine how such tech would integrate into targeted ads. Shops would not only know where their potential customers were, but also how much time they had on their hands before a flight, and even what their shopping preferences and habits were based on things like social media profiles (just think of the data permissions you grant every time you sign onto the airport Wi-Fi with your Facebook or Twitter account). In fact, the release states that “Retailers and other third parties may also use the beacon system to detect proximity and send relevant offers or promotional messages, if the passenger has chosen to receive them.”
“By providing the infrastructure we’re opening the door for a wide range of tech savvy airport providers, including our airlines and retailers, to launch new real-time services that can help passengers find their way around the airport, avoid missing flights or receive timely offers that might save them money,” adds Chacko.
Although some people might feel uncomfortable with the prospect of so much information being known about them (and opt-outs should be available for those that are) airports are already a place where we routinely have to subject ourselves to enhanced security and monitoring, so it feels less of a leap somehow. And the flipside of that coin is that a lot of people might well think that sharing data is a price worth paying for a smoother experience and relevant offers sent their way. It’s certainly the general trend we’re seeing as location-based, Mixed Reality, Artificial Intelligence and Big Data technologies increasingly converge, and it will be interesting to see how such test cases pan out.
NFL App Lets Fans Paint Their Faces With Augmented Reality
You can now put on a selfie game face without dealing with all the messy greasepaint.
Face painting is part and parcel of sports culture, particularly in the US. But – excuse the pun – let’s face it: not everybody has the time, patience and tolerant skin complexion to achieve that perfect artistic look that will do justice to your team and your devotion to them.
Face painting is part and parcel of US sports culture.
NFL teams are offering their fans the chance to paint their faces with AR.
That’s where Augmented Reality comes in, as three NFL teams are now offering their fans the chance to paint their faces with AR. San Francisco-based digital agency Float Hybrid worked with sponsors Bud Light and select NFL teams to incorporate the feature into the apps.
AR uses facial detection to apply digital face paint masks in real time.
The feature uses facial detection to apply digital face paint masks in real time. Responsible for designing the various face paints, Float Hybrid studied countless images of fans across each participating team to understand which designs would resonate most with the local fans.
“We are hyper-focused on leveraging innovative technologies to create memorable moments that drive emotional connections with consumers,” says Keith Bendes, VP Marketing and Strategic Partnerships at Float Hybrid. “AR Face Paint capitalizes on some of the most beloved and fun trends in mobile to provide all fans, whether in the stadium or at home, a way to showcase and share their fandom.”
The functionality was developed by Pittsburgh company YinzCam, which has considerable sports app pedigree from building 24 NFL club apps as well as more than 100 apps for teams in the NBA, WNBA, MLS, NRL, AFL and CFL, as well as apps for leagues, venues and events like the Super Bowl XLIX.
The AR feature is incorporated into each team’s official app.
The nice touch is that you don’t even need to download a separate app to try this new feature out. If you’re a fan of the Broncos 365, Eagles or Texans, you can apply different face paint designs and helmet filters, take selfies with them, and share these on social media, all from within each team’s official app. I have a feeling that if this proves popular you will soon see a lot more NFL teams joining the bandwagon too.
As the NFL and its sponsors look to connect with the younger generations, they recognize the fact they will need to provide experiences that tap into the technologies and devices they already use. “Phones have become the primary method of interaction,” says Ryan Mortimer, Director of Digital Innovation for Anheuser Busch, which owns the Bud Light brand. “The onus is on us as innovators to provide experiences that resonate with the way these fans communicate & participate. The augmented reality face painting feature does just that.”
Brady Kellogg, Senior VP of Corporate Partnerships at the Denver Broncos, says they’re always looking for ways to get fan more connected with new technologies to enhance their experience, and AR was a great way of achieving this. The Broncos were the first team in the NFL to introduce augmented reality face painting at the end of the 2016 season, and its success in driving fan engagement led the team to bring it back for the 2017 season.
“Fans are looking for fun, new ways to get involved with their favorite teams, and augmented reality allows us to provide a highly engaging, interactive fan experience,” Kellogg explains.
This is further proof that big brands are increasingly looking at integrating immersive technologies like Augmented Reality into their social strategies, and is another indication that AR is becoming serious business.
Escaping from Augmented Reality
Scriptum is a new AR escape room app that lets you step into another dimension. But will you be able to find the way out?
It is really interesting with any new platform to see what types of games become popular as the medium evolves. And it’s often not what you’d expect. Even as mobiles became able to handle better graphics and high-speed Internet access on the move became ubiquitous, it was still the relatively simple games like FarmVille, Candy Crush and Angry Birds that stole the show and had millions of people glued to the little screens.
It is really interesting with any new platform to see what types of games become popular as the medium evolves.
With immersive technologies, there’s now a dizzying array of creative experimentation going on, and it’s fair to say we’ve barely scratched the surface. One of the ways you can tell this is true is by spotting how many designers claim that their game is the first ever of its kind.
With immersive technologies, there’s now a dizzying array of creative experimentation going on.
Such is the case with Scriptum, which is bringing escape rooms to AR. For those not familiar with the concept, an escape room is a location-based experience where a group of people – family, friends, colleagues – go to role play and solve interactive puzzles as part of a narrative adventure, typically lasting around an hour, but it can vary.
Scriptum is bringing escape rooms to AR.
To start the game, you simply scan the floor of the room in which you’re standing, and step through the portal that appears.
Perhaps not surprisingly, this idea originated in Japan, but over the past few years it has really gained popularity around the world. The U.S. has seen what can only be described as a boom in this sector, which has grown from 22 companies to over 2,000 in the past four years. One of the most successful of those, Mission Escape Games, says it attracted 140,000 visitors in 2017.
“Escape rooms are becoming more popular around the world, and Scriptum is a mystery puzzle game that capitalizes on that trend and uses AR to recreate that. You have to find all the clues, and reach the exit through the portal in less than 15 minutes,” explains Alex Balcells, CEO at Adver2Play, the Barcelona-based company which developed Scriptum. “There might be other detective games out there, but Scriptum is the first app to put you inside of a real Escape Room.”
To start the game, you simply scan the floor of the room in which you’re standing, and step through the portal that appears. Then, of course, comes the tricky part of having to puzzle your way out of that room as quickly as possible by collecting clues and figuring out the puzzles.
The idea of Escape Rooms originated in Japan, but over the past few years it has gained popularity around the world.
The U.S. has seen what can only be described as a boom in this sector, which has grown from 22 companies to over 2,000 in the past four years.
It’s essentially very simple, but as it’s often the case, the proof of the pudding is in the execution. If people are engaged with the puzzles enough, they will buy into the concept more fully and the experience will gel. And according to Balcells, this is exactly what they’ve seen since launching Scriptum, adding that they’re very encouraged by the high levels of interest the app generated so far.
Scriptum is currently available to download on Google play and iTunes for free, but there is no doubt that there is a very attractive commercial market for this sort of product out there. Real-life escape rooms are often fully booked, specially at weekends, and can generate hundreds of thousands in revenue depending on their popularity.
Scriptum is currently available to download on Google play and iTunes for free, but there is no doubt that there is a very attractive commercial market for this sort of product out there.
Since the whole concept hinges on merging fantasy and real-world elements it seems like a natural fit for AR.
And since the whole concept hinges on merging fantasy and real-world elements, it would certainly seem like a natural fit for AR. Will it become the medium’s killer “sticky” app though? Only time will tell. In the meantime, good luck getting back to the real world.