02/07/2019No Comments

AR is dead, long live AR!

Augmented Reality is Dead?!

 

OK let me explain. AR definitely isn't dead, but a shift is occurring, and this is my prediction -

"AR over the next 12 months, augmented reality will become more commonplace, useful and integrated into our everyday lives than ever before."

 

Augmented Reality (AR) is a medium / platform allow people to superimpose digital content into the real world. You might be familiar with the concept. Snapchat Lenses are a fun way to add bunny ears, face swap or create interesting selfies.

Or maybe you've delved a little deeper and seen how you can view a piece of virtual furniture into your room. Check out the Ikea Place app for a great example of this.

Image Credit Facebook

Essentially anything that let's you see digital content overlaid or integrated into the real world can be defined as augmented reality.

The Shift in AR

AR has been around to years, we tested and played with this back in 2012, and then the hype died down. At that time it felt like a gimmick, and I don't do gimmicks!

In recent years, AR started to emerge once again, mainly down to the advances in tech (smart phones, Android ARCore, Apple AR Kit), which lead to fun apps, such as SnapChat.

Most of the apps have been for entertainment, and really served little other purpose.

But that will change. And it could be driven by Facebook of all people. Facebook launched Spark AR Studio, a way for developers to create augmented reality apps to feature in Facebook and Instagram.

Spark AR Studio Augmented Reality Facebook Instagram

Currently, most of the AR content on Spark AR Studio is "entertainment" based. People are experimenting, testing and having fun.

But what will be interesting is when we see Facebook start to monetise its platform and users. I predict that Facebook will create a centralised AR platform, not only for "funky selfies", but also for business, brands and products.

I mentioned earlier that Ikea have the Place app, where you can preview furniture within a real world. Well others are at it too, such as Wayfair and Amazon

And it's my prediction that Facebook will create something like Wayfair and Amazon , but 1000x greater!

Wayfair and Ikea are all very much self centred, they serve themselves, you can't "shop around". And I can't blame them, why should they.

Amazon and Facebook are potentially very different. These both aren't self centred, they can offer the users anything. So imagine an AR marketplace where you can browse 1000s of items, no matter who produces it.

And don't think AR is just for furniture either. Fashion, art, accessories, paint, hair styles and almost anything else could take advantage of AR.

And then there's the opportunity for augmented reality to do a full circle, and use AR for entertainment, promotion, brand awareness and just good old fun.

Facebook / Instagram is going to be the place to be. If they get it right, they'll be to go-to app for AR, and everyone will want to be on it. Think of it like a business not wanting to be on Google, it just wouldn't happen!

 

"I believe augmented reality is a huge opportunity for forward thinking retailers to promote their products and brands. The attention will be undervalued to begin with, but trust me, that won't last too long."

 

So what does this have to do with Punch Digital? Well moving forward, we will be developing augmented reality content on the Spark AR platform. It'll be business like ourselves that will give businesses, brands and products a way to get their content easily onto these platforms, so we're keen to show how this is possible!

Keep your eyes peeled for augmented reality updates!

And if you have an idea, concept or would simply like to know more about augmented reality, then get in touch!

Thanks,
Dean

23/05/2019No Comments

Burger King’s Disruptive Augmented Reality Marketing

Burger King's Disruptive Augmented Reality Marketing

Augmented reality is slowly, but very effectively, being using in marketing campaigns all around the world.

We love augmented reality, and truly believe it's going to be a massive medium in the not so distant future.

One recent campaign for Burger King Brazil, involves users "burning" competitors adverts, for which they are rewarded with a free Whopper.

Now when we say "burning" we don't mean that folk are literally committing arson, rather they're using a very clever augmented reality app to make it appear that McDonalds, Subway, or another competitors printed advert is on fire.  Once the advert has been burnt to ashes, the user then see's the Burger King advert and receives a free burger. Burger King use geofencing to place this offer near its rival compeitors.

For those who don't know, augmented reality (often called AR or mixed reality), is where digital content is displayed into the real world. For example you could augment a piece of furniture into a room to see how it fits, or perhaps you want to see how a new pair of trainers would look on yourself without visiting a store.

There are no limits as to what you can digitally show, and with the Burger King campaign by David SP, the app cleverly recognises a competitors advert, which the triggers the burning and reward.

The social and psychological reasons behind the campaign are perhaps too complex for me to fully understand, perhaps it's literally "let's burn our competitors into oblivion" or maybe it's a spin on Burger Kings "flame grilled" style.

One thing I do know is that the campaign will folk downloading the app, and engaging with the real world, for real rewards.

Augmented reality has the scale and flexibility to transform how people engage with brands, stores and businesses. Instead of burning an advert, imagine if your customers could hold their phone up to an advert, and they're instantly given information on store locations, opening hours, or even exclusive discounts.

Or how about your customer sees an advert for a new piece of furniture, and by using augmented reality, they can see, rotate and maybe even order the piece of furniture straight from an app. Check out our Punch Infifty Range of examples on what we can do.

Augment reality for marketing is just arriving, and I think we're only seeing a glimpse of what it's capable of!

We will be putting together some concepts and ideas for how augmented reality could be used. If you'd like to know more or would like to discuss some ideas then get in touch.

You can also subscribe to our newsletter or follow us in Instagram too for future updates!

Dean

25/10/2018No Comments

Devilish Monents! Getting ready for Halloween with Snapchat and Augmented Reality

Devilish Moments!

A R&D project to explore SnapChat and augmented reality to create something fun, whilst learning what this incredible media can do!

Give it a go, let us know your thoughts.

https://bit.ly/2PhCYXc (Snapchat Lens link)

We'd love to hear about your devilish moments! Send your snaps to punchdigitaluk !

Happy Halloween!

 

P.S. We'll be diving a bit deeper into why we do these things over the next couple of weeks!

13/07/2016No Comments

You’ve Been Tango’d! Google Tango that is! Google’s Augmented Reality

Google Tango Augmented Reality is another leap for new tech, and it's pretty exciting!

I love this industry, and Google's new augmented reality (AR) makes us very excited! Why though? Augmented reality is when a virtual image, text data, etc is overlaid into the real world. The easiest way to do this is to point your smart phone at a tracker (a unique image), and your phone recognises this tracker and overlays the virtual image into the real world on the screen of your phone. Ikea did this very sucessfully with their app, check it out here http://www.gizmag.com/ikea-augmented-reality-catalog-app/28703/

The only problem with this method of AR is that the camera on your device needs to see a tracking image (like the Ikea catalogue). Google Tango doesn't! Now that's impressive!

How it does it is probably something very technical, and I assume it uses some kind of 3D scanning to gauge depth and distance, but developing hardware isn't our thing, so I'm only guessing. What I do know is that this is a real game changer for AR. By removing the need for tracking images means we could, in theory, overlay virtual worlds into the real world much much easier. It's also interesting to read that Tango can also measure. Imagine if we take the Ikea concept, but say develop a feature where a user holds their Tango device at a room, and the app then selects tables which would fit in the space. There'd be no need for that tedious process of measuring a space, reading the dimensions in a catalogue, and then hoping it all fits OK!

Google Tango AR Augmented Reality 3D CGI

Augmented reality has huge potential in education and marketing. The need to engage and excite people is very important and AR can help. It can make seemingly dull experiences very exciting. Take kids to a museum and they'll probably look forward to their pack lunch and gift shop, but if you make the experience exciting and engaging they'll probably forget all about their cheese sandwiches! In Google's promo video the kids visit a museum, and use Google Tango AR to see a T-Rex come to life, and also display further info for them to read and learn. This may not engage or excite a group of OAPs, but the beauty of digital content is that each AR experience can be tailored different users.

Google Tango AR Augmented Reality 3D CGI

If we look at the area we primarily work in, marketing architecture and products, augmented reality could really be a great tool to use. Imagine walking around a house or residential development with a Google Tango style app. Whilst the parents are using it to learn about the boring stuff like energy efficiency, crime rates, or even the choice of carpet colours, and the kids could see where their new school could be, learn about local clubs and groups, or how high the new swing goes in the near by park!

Google Tango is a very interesting development, and we'll be watching it very closely. There's only one device at the moment that's Tango enabled, and that's the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, but I'm sure more will follow very soon. Imagine the Samsung GearVR with Google Tango, my mind's already blown!

Dean

08/01/2016No Comments

Virtual Reality Aids Nasa Training

It's of no real surprise that massive organisations such as NASA are using virtual reality to help test, train and develop their environments and users, in fact you'd expect them to be the leaders in new tech, and demoing things which we hadn't even heard of.

So when I saw this short video, showing a user controlling a robotic arm to simulate lag in a zero gravity environment, I was a little surprised to see them using an off-the-shelf Sony VR headset (Project Morpheus), which will be available to buy in 2016, presumably to be primarily used with the Playstation 4.

For myself, this is quite a big deal, the virtual reality headset will probably be priced at around £500, and to consumers who only want to play games this may seem high and hard to justify, but if you think about it, the price is much lower than a new TV, and will likely give you a much more immersive experience than a TV or monitor.

Playing games is one thing, and ultimately gaming has really driven this technology to this level, but what about the other possibilities for this kind of hardware?

Of course we can look to use the headsets for interactive architectural walk-through, or to visualise new products in full 3D, and I'm sure we'll see an increase in demand for these types of projects. Selling a housing development "off-plan" may be replaced by selling "off-VR", allowing potential buyers to walk around their future neighbourhood, and explore their future home.

 vr_head_set_nasa_training_virtual_reality_02The VR headset and controllers in action.

However I also see a massive use for VR in development, simulation, testing and training, which is what the video explores. Again architecture and product design may find virtual reality useful to develop and preview architecture and prototypes, uncovering potential design flaws, or perhaps even for user testing and focus groups, which could potentially mean architects and designers could trial several designs in a much more cost effective manor.

Training and simulation could also be a great use for virtual reality. As the video shows, the software can be programmed to different scenarios for any environment. A factory could be tested before it's built, and any design flaws could be rectified before actual construction of the building, saving companies a huge amount of money and time.

vr_head_set_nasa_training_virtual_reality_01Virtual robotic arms.

Staff could also be trained to use new machinery, even before it's physically there. This could cut down on training time, and also allow users to familiarise them selves with the machines in a very safe way.

Simulations can also be run, perhaps allowing users to experience an emergency situation. The software could be programmed to record and feed back on the users decisions, speed and alertness. The information could then be analysed, reviewed and acted upon, perhaps making the training more valuable and useful for both trainers and trainees.

The technology behind the VR headset is of course cutting edge. We haven't really seen any consumer based VR head sets before, OK there's the Samsung Gear, Google Cardboard and arguably the Oculus Rift, but with 2016 looking like it will be a bumper year for virtual reality and headset hardware we could see the use of VR rocket and become almost mainstream.

For sure, a VR headset is on our wish list for 2016 and there's quite a choice of headsets too. There's the Sony VR headset, HTC Vive and the full release of the Oculus Rift, all of which look impressive, and should in theory be around the same price range, so the choice looks like it will be down to software compatibility and personal preference.

The future of VR is looking strong, and we can't wait to become a part of it, pushing and playing with new technology whilst creating new virtual worlds and environments! We simply can't wait to get our hands on a headset, and see where we end up!

Dean

 

02/11/2015No Comments

Augmented / Virtual Reality Command Centre Concept

New tech excites me, and this augmented / virtual reality project created for BAE Systems is something I'm massively impressed with. In an episode of Click, a BBC tech based show, they look at how augmented and virtual reality work in partnership to give the user a huge amount of control by immersing the user into a virtual world.

The video can be watched on the iplayer here -

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06bbm1g/click-05092015

The command centre uses a mix of new technology, with perhaps the most recognisable tech being the Oculus Rift (the large head set), but the command centre also takes advantage of gloves, cameras, and other interfaces to allow the users to view, control and interact with the virtual world.

VR AR Command Centre Virtual Reality Augmented Reality

Mixing virtual reality with augmented reality has been used to great effect, in this case the wooden table is used not only to project the virtual world onto, but also to give the user something real to touch. I imagine it's also very useful for resting the users hands, as hovering in mid-air can soon become quite tiring.

VR AR Command Centre Virtual Reality Augmented Reality

The augmented virtual world is mainly projected onto the table, however other 3D objects are visible away from the table, such as the fighter jet, and the personal assistant.

VR AR Command Centre Virtual Reality Augmented Reality

The software developed for the command centre is perhaps the most impressive part of the project, and gives us a brief look into what's possible. In this demo the user can quickly see live video from the real world scene, but the view could view anything they need, from drawings, to written reports.

VR AR Command Centre Virtual Reality Augmented Reality

The video also glimpses at another peice of tech which I love, and that's 3D scanning. In the video the command centre can see real-time updates from 3D scanned data. Presumably the area is scanned with a drone, and the point cloud data transmitted back to the virtual world.

VR AR Command Centre Virtual Reality Augmented Reality

If you're interested in this kind of tech, watch the video, it's seriously impressive stuff! I can't wait until this kind of project becomes mainstream, and eventually the norm, until then I'll just have to keep tinkering and experimenting with my own virtual worlds!

Dean

 

27/07/2012No Comments

Augmented Reality Testing & Development

During non-project time, I like to get stuck into some to something further my skills, improve my portfolio,  or sometimes to do something different. Recently I have been pondering the use of augmented reality applications.

I have always had an interest in real-time applications, mainly architectural walk-throughs or gaming, but augmented reality feels more exciting and more engaging than walk-thoughs. The idea that you can hold something digital in your hand, or view the world around us differently to what is perceived by our eyes, is a very strange concept. It's also something very hard to explain unless you can show someone, but I guess this is the same for 99% of new technology.

The other reason why I'm taking an interest to augmented reality is the craze with "3D" TVs and films. "3D" TV isn't really 3D, it's just some added effects to try to trick our brains into adding depth to what we are seeing, and to be honest, I think it ruins good films, and is a gimmick to sell bad films.

Augmented 3D, or even 2D, is different, and allows the user to see the content how ever they wish (to an extent). This for me is 3D, and this is what makes it exciting.

This quick video shows 3 examples I have put together to simply explore the workings and possibilities of actually making something useful and deliverable. The main aims for these test was to see how well it worked on various media, how quickly an app could be made and to try to see it's limitations. All of the tests are very basic, but each explores different techniques and features.

Ard Digital | Augmented Reality Test 01 from ArdDigital on Vimeo.

Ikea's 2013 catalogue looks like it will feature some augmented elements, as well as links to videos and other content. I believe this is Ikea's way to get customers to interact on-line and through their mobile, rather than using augmented reality as a tool, which is fair enough, so long as it engages and doesn't become tedious or boring.

So the future does look slightly more augmented, but will we see much more in the coming years? The technology is here and evolving fast, but maybe it needs a games console, film, or something else to really spark it off. Sony are creating the Wonderbook, a Harry Potter augmented story telling game, using a magical book, allowing the user to interact with the game. Maybe this will be a massive hit, or maybe it will pass by as simply "another game for kids". The possibilities of augmented reality, for me, are very interesting, and I can't wait to experience some real 3D in the coming years!

Be sure to keep an eye out on my blog for more updates, and testing, as I'm sure there's more to come!

 

Deano

 

Sources -

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/07/ikeas-augmented-reality-catalog-lets-you-peek-inside-the-malm/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-18327724

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