Tracking of the new generation – ViewAR includes Wikitude

E JAugmented Reality

Austrians’ powerhouses for AR technology show how apps can deliver benefits to various industries by introducing Wikitude’s powerful SLAM solution (Simultaneous Localisation And Mapping) in order to integrate marker-less user experiences.

SLAM! No other acronym features that prominently, when nowadays Augmented Reality is discussed in media. The technology is typically associated with robotics and self-driving cars, however, when Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, credited it with the seamless integration of real and virtual worlds, media took on the story to make the idea behind recognised worldwide.

One essential part of SLAM is depth perception, which allows capable devices to know distances from themselves to other objects and distances between themselves in order to build an accurate 3D picture of the scanned environment. Translated to AR, this capability allows a proper interaction of virtual objects with the real world via so-called “interest points”, while setting up a map of its surroundings along the way.

Augmented Reality and tracking

There are some very good and well-known technologies, like Microsoft’s Kinect and Google’s Project Tango, that bathe the environment in infrared (IR) to build a 3D mesh model of the environment. This results in constructing a map of an unknown place and its recognition even when the sensor has already left its focus.

“As we are only at the very beginning of augmenting the physical world around us. Visual SLAM is currently very well suited for tracking in unknown environments, rooms and spaces,” explains Andy Gstoll, CMO at Wikitude. “The technology continuously scans and “learns” about the environment it is in, allowing you to augment it with useful and value adding digital content depending on your location within this space.”

Swiss Energy Challenge 2017

E JAugmented Reality

This year again, EnergieSchweiz presents themes evolving around energy efficiency and renewable energy. This project of Styria One, FS Parker, ViewAR, Messe Schweiz, IKEA, Raiffeisen, Swisscom, AXA Winterthur, BRACK.CH and Nespresso aims to show simple tips how to reduce peoples’ personal energy consumption.

Swiss citizens were curious, when they were informed about an interesting event recently. The Energy Challenge 2017, sponsored by Swiss industrial heavyweights, featured the well known Swiss rapper Stress who explained the main goal of the Energy Challenge 2017 like that: “When I started to get involved in energy topics I realised that the approach mustn’t be seen as a sprint then rather a marathon. It needs time to create awareness and a real behavioural change. Everyone is called in to contribute to that matter which must be a concern for all of us. It is not necessary to become a king of energy saving, just change small things in your daily life and the overall result will be incredible.” What a contribution from a well known star to the initiative started by the Swiss government in 2001 with the aim to reach defined goals in clima-politics!

But how can such a venture become successful? How can people become involved? Modern technology is the answer. The Energy Challenge 2017 sets on digital platforms and engaged Augmented Reality by ViewAR to create momentum.

Augmented Reality and gamification to create awareness

Core promotion platform of the Energy Challenge 2017 is a free downloadable application which provides information all around energy and enables users to dive into a thrilling digital world. Quizes and tips allow the collection of so-called “energy points” which can win users financial rewards up to 200.000 Swiss Franks. Styria One and ViewAR were challenged to create a framework, both, driving engagement and providing goal-oriented entertainment at the same time. A similar venture in 2016 gained energy savings of around 30,7 Mio. kWh, which equals 2 Billion km driven by bicycle (Ø 20 km/h) and sum up to saved energy costs of 7,6 Mio. Swiss Franks.

Behind the scenes

ViewAR’s contribution to the Energy Challenge 2017 consisted of the Augmented Reality core, which implemented into the Energy Challenge app. The first stage of appearance was planned during the MUBA Basel, an exhibition dedicated to energy matters. Visitors could download the app and start collecting points by visiting 13 info points, where videos must be watched, quizzes must be participated in and interactive content must be handled in order to collect “energy points”.

The time frame to design the app, discuss contents and its placements as well as checking technological requirements for being “always on” at the location was a tough venture but was successfully managed within one month. Thanks to ViewAR’s flexible Augmented Reality framework, the timetable was kept and visitors could enjoy a seamless string of interactions.

Technology adaption only works with a good story behind it

After the first public appearance of ViewAR’s Augmented Reality app for the Energy Challenge 2017, it is time to analyse the results. Augmented Reality is still just technology and not a general solution “for everything”. Consumers are willing and ready to us AR applications, as seen during the MUBA Basel, if they see the real benefit for themselves. Technology, especially a new one, creates publicity and awareness and, if developed user-friendly, can be a killer-tool for campaigns as well as products and services.

The Energy Challenge 2017 can therefore be considered as a huge success, both for reaching the main goal and for introducing Augmented Reality to a broad audience. The chosen topic, saving energy, starts to become a main focus for governments as well as for individuals, and initiatives like The Energy Challenge 2017 will be seen more often in the future.

Using creativity and gamification to stimulate active action instead of passive content consumption allowed Augmented Reality to starr as the main framework, displaying its great advantage to other forms of communication. AR connects the dots, bridges the gap between real life and imagination and stimulates interaction. It was an honour for ViewAR to be a part of such a substantial and sustainable project and to contribute to a team of highly professional and dedicated people to make the vision become reality.

Depth-sensing becomes mainstream

E JAugmented Reality

Science fiction, anyone? Depth-sensing applications drive consumers’ interest, while Integrating virtual objects and scenes via depth sensing technology enters the stage.

There is no question about it. Virtual, Mixed and Augmented Reality enter the stage of broad awareness among consumers worldwide. And it’s not just the marketers who are enthusiastic about the new opportunities to offer new services, earning money along the way. The heavy industry itself has come to an agreement that industry 4.0 is more than just a short-lived hype, it is a substantial transformation process to increase productivity and efficiency in almost all fields of work. Still, there are some questions, mainly strategic ones, which must be answered before opening the mainstream floodgates.

Technology for sales

It is always the same story. Start-up invents pioneering innovation. Start-up gets ventured. Start-up gets bought. Just looking at the cases itself, there is nothing to complain about human inventory spirit. The real problem occurs, when the sharks start orbiting.

One example? PrimeSense was a high-rocketing fabless semiconductor company and provided products in the area of depth sensing inputs for consumer and commercial markets, when Apple decided it was time to integrate PrimeSense’s flagship innovation into the “empire”. Although Cupertino has remained silent about its plans with the acquisition, the technology behind it may make an appearance on the iPhone 8. So far so good. But what happened to early adopters of PrimeSense revolutionary depth sensing hardware, using it to build a business? What strategic consequences have been drawn from that case?

Well, the hardware itself is not available anymore and some former users are not happy about it. Dependency can be so annoying. As the market adaption of depth sensing application grows fast, AR-, VR- and MR-business models must be adapted accordingly. Betting on one horse came with a heavy price tag, while building on independent platforms may ultimately prove to be wiser. Austrian’s ViewAR entered the course of staying neutral to certain innovation streams while establishing AR systems far from any dependency whatsoever.

Let’s better stay independent

ViewAR’s Team developed depth-sensing applications for all main hardware-players on the market, including MS Hololens, Google’s Project Tango or the new kid in town, Daqri. Success proves Markus Meixner, CTO and founder of ViewAR, right: “We are enthusiastic about the different nuances of various hardware devices as each of them targets new markets and industries.” Indeed, developing MS HoloLens applications for Wien Energie, the largest regional energy provider of Austria, seems to be fun, not just in an academic way, but in real life, testing industry 4.0 workflows in authentic environments including real humans working with it.

But depth-sensing can do more. A recent project, partnered by Lufthansa Cargo, showed the real stuff. ViewAR’s 3D scanner application, used on a simple iPad, drove an increase in efficiency, which financed the development costs in no time. But besides those industry heavyweights, effective tools using depth-sensing technology can be found in various use-cases. Surface detection can help to identify walls, surfaces and terrains of all kind, delivering useful information for service providers fostering further action. Intelligent depth-sensing applications use object recognition or seamless collision and occlusion of objects broadening the path for innovations everywhere.

Mainstream?

If you believe the Digi-Capital | Augmented/Virtual Reality Report 2016, and you should, the AR/VR market is one of the fastest growing tech niche on our planet. MS HoloLens & Co, offering integrated and untethered positional tracking not limited by external sensors, will free movements and increase the experience of immersion. Decreasing the necessary hardware investments, as seen so many times in the past in different tec-eras, AR will go on in becoming “the greatest thing since the smartphone!” (Tim Cook, Apple). Although we are still allowed a glimpse of its real potential, AR’s and especially depth sensing technology’s victory can only be a matter of short time.

Use-cases are developed in all parts of the world, boosting the adaption amongst the developers’ scene and consecutively spreading the good news among prospective clients. ViewAR will be a part of this prosperous future, that’s for sure, using the skills gained from partnering with the industry’s best like Novomatic, Intel and others.

AWE USA 2017 – Superpowers to change the world

E JAugmented Reality

AWE USA 2017 brings a mix of CEOs, CTOs, designers, developers, creative agencies, futurists, analysts, investors, and top press together in a fantastic opportunity to learn, inspire, partner, and experience first hand the most exciting industry of our times.

Again it is time to gather brains from all around the world in an event that could only be described as the window to the future. But unlike windows we know, AWE USA 2017 not just allows a glance of what will happen in the world of AR, it invites you to be just in the middle of the action. “This year’s conference and expo will showcase speakers, startups and organisations who are using AR & VR to drive economic growth, encourage empathy and collaboration, democratise healthcare and education, and promote sustainability in the world”, claims the official event-website and rightfully does so.

AR has gained worldwide reception as the technology to go for, or, as Apple’s CEO Tim Cook enthusiastically pointed out: “I regard it as a big idea, like the smartphone. The smartphone is for everyone, we don’t have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market: it’s for everyone. I think AR is that big, it’s huge. I get excited because of the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives. And be entertaining.”

ViewAR in the spotlight

“ViewAR last year’s award winning technology, being honored as having developed the world’s best AR application for Bang & Olufsen, though doesn’t mean to rest on past laurels. Much has been done in order to market new ideas and technological advancements. One recent project for Wien Energie, Austria’s largest regional energy provider, shows the strength of the Austrian based company.

As the whole industrial sector is on talking about industry 4.0, ViewAR has showed a fascinating proof-of-concept, demonstrating indoor-navigation concepts, remote collaboration and hands-free crisis-management workflows (Read more about the project here). Of course, such innovations will initiate fruitful discussions on AWE USA 2017 and will lead to more to come. Eventually ViewAR’s nomination for Best Enterprise Solution will be a role model for the fast developing market of Maintenance 4.0 applications. “This is quite a big achievement. The (MS HoloLens) device recognizes what you are currently looking at and displays relevant data, allowing a hands-free approach all the time”, explains Markus Meixner, CTO and owner of ViewAR, calling on all fans of the company to support the chance for a second consecutive Auggie Award.

But it’s not just for industry 4.0, ViewAR aims for two more categories. One app marked a new milestone and set fresh challenges for the 3D design team. Markilux is one of the largest German brand name in awnings and for more than a quarter of a century now they have been making sure that life on the balcony and the patio is made even more enjoyable. Dealing with highly customisable awnings, the 3D design team overcame various challenges to produce designs and renderings as close as possible to reality, following Markilux’s quality approach to its optimum.

All good things come in three, that’s why ViewAR is nominated for Best Platform, too. It has always been the core intention to provide technology rather than create bespoke solutions for companies around the globe. The result can be explored here in detail.

AWE USA 2017 – superpowers are ready to be delivered

The ViewAR’s System enables agencies and developers all around the world to get their hands on the Augmented Reality solutions themselves, delivering quality and market-proven technology to their customers. Phillip Fumolo, CEO of ViewAR, rightfully states “Save time and costs by building on a running arCommerce system instead of developing it from scratch.”

Much was already published about the great SDK platform, and Markus Meixner, the architect of the system will be available on his developer track between 5:45pm – 6:00pm on May 31 getting into the subleties of how to use this tool properly and successfully. If you are interested, join him for Q&As.

Phillip Fumolo himself will lead a workshop between 1:45pm – 2:00pm one June 1. Dive into the world of configurators 3.0, the innovation leap through parametric models, integrated systems and completely new experiences via the use of the latest HMDs. Come and be a part of the show!

AWE USA 2017 will be the place to go, and this year’s mission speaks for itself: “AR and VR are bringing superpowers to the people and this year we are on a mission to highlight how to use these Superpowers to Change the World.”

See you there!