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Frontier technologies – Future beckons

Mouli Ganguly, Member, Board of Advisors, talks on Industry 4.0, Digital Transformation, Frontier Technologies and more:

  1. What are some technologies that you think will play a huge role in Digital Transformation and why?

All of them play a role in terms of Digital Transformation. So, let us take an industrial example. Dump trucks used in mining have huge tyres. Their worth is about a million odd dollars and some of their tyres cost up to $100k. Now it is important to see the level of productivity an application can deliver. The benefits are already clear & compelling.

Every modern piece of truck has got transponders all over the place. That kicks in the IoT element. This enables us to track what it is doing by tracking the signals received. With AI and insights, what we can do with the data coming through is, collect and put them in a place. We can decide here is what I want to get the data or do something about it.

With AR, VR and MR, you render the whole application to how the user can best use it, with data and insights. For example, you could present the same information that you’re collecting via transponders to the truck drivers in a manner where he can see the whole environment around him. You can set it up, such that language is not a barrier. In India, for instance, truck drivers driving cross-country speak different languages. Irrespective of whatever language one speaks, they can all see an image, interpret & take decisions. Every driver knows what a boulder is. Or what are the factors that may damage the dumpster or damage the tyres or something else. Whilst sitting inside the dumpster, they may not be able to view everything through naked eye.

“Seeing the information presented through Virtual or Augmented reality enables him to make better decisions.”

Another way to grasp all this up – you see a control room can observe the movements of a dumpster. They receive the information from transponders and visualise the data and interpret the implications that arise from it. They can then come up with solutions like specific risk issues or actions that need to be taken. A team from the customer & Appearition has to plan this out.

In terms of Blockchain, it makes sure that a certain event, transaction or data, is stamped as authentic. It is not widely used yet. There are restrictions on its usage or application. But for transactions of high value, this technology not only gives you an experience but also makes the transaction very safe and auditable. It also facilitates to build a record as to who did what at exactly when. This can also act as an audit trail for any purpose required. It is a foul-proof way to keep track of things. The transaction can be financial or otherwise.

So that is how all the technologies can play a role in Digital Transformation. Often a combination of these technologies that answers / solves a business problem.

  1. What will be the road-map of early adapters vs cautious players?

Typically, early adapters are an organisation’s visionary. They are in the very senior position. Also, in a generational sense, say between gen X, gen Y or the middle aged people, there are several technology gaps. Kids born after 2000 basically grew up with screens. Just like millennials grew up with the PCs. Every time a new technology is introduced, you think of things in a very different way. For example, in my generation of baby boomers, , people would write text for a power point presentation. Whereas, these days, a presentation is far more experiential.

In an organisational context, the gap is often at thinking through the process change or adaption for an idea.  If the plan is not backed by experience or relevant subject matter expertise, it will fall through.

As an early adapter, the visionaries come up with ideas. The cautious players are the ones who go through the practical things. So, they go through factors like business use case, defining what will change, how will it work, the change management and integration part of it, how to get data out of organisational system that exists, make sure that the data is accurate, quality is good.

Early adapters are analytical thinkers/dreamers. Cautious people on the other hand, achieve dreamers’ dreams. This kcan take a very long time. Now, where an organisation is driven by a visionary, often, you get things moving simply because he has got an idea that he wants to make it happen. And he (CEO/COO) will tell somebody typically that, ‘look I just want to make it happen. Work as a team and make it happen’.

Facebook phenomenon

For an early adapter enterprise, if you get the vision right, you get a first mover advantage over others. For instance, the Facebook phenomenon. They have created an entirely new business. Whereas sometimes, early adapters who did not plan well have gone bust. Because, they have placed some bets that have gone awfully wrong. And this has sort of impacted their existing business, customers and whole the lot. Cautious players tend to be thoughtful followers. They let others experiment and use those learnings in their business. They try to keep their profitability high and ensure quality, risk management & repeatability, so thatcustomer engagement does not take a hit.

  1. In this process, how can an enterprise build its internal and external stakeholders’ digital IQ?

There are whole lot of methodologies. In my view really simple. The agenda very much is a COO/CFO/CIO/CMO/CPO idea. The CEO says this is what we need to do. The CMO then says, this is how we want to market it. This is the experience we want to provide. The CPO Says here is the culture or context in which I want my people to operate. Those are the three elements – the customers, the culture, the strategic direction and somewhere in between there is an elephant in the room, the digital space. Compliance, security, all those kinds of things. All this has to hang together be funded effectively and provide return to the investors, That is why you need a special type of CFO for the digital businesses. That is very important in terms of creating the digital IQ.

You drive the innovation, which is the business agenda. Secondly, you need to be agile. Agility is where you can own up to your mistakes quickly when needed and at a low cost.  The whole team, not just some champions  must work together on an agile manner. We need collaboration within the organisation and with the suppliers & customers. Within the compliance ecosystem the regulatory authority, and any number of agencies are there, because the laws haven’t caught up in Digital yet. And the next comes the partners. Because no one organisation can do everything by themselves. It is very, very important for the partners to work together. Again, look at what Appearition is doing. They work with a whole lot of partners to deliver what must be delivered. And, at another level, the IQ is built through great culture of innovation and risk taking.

The first question you ask is why are you doing it? What is the innovation? Why am I doing it? What difference will it make? And the ability to execute, in my mind is the other side of the equation. The CIO, the guy whom implements the technology. The CFO, the guy who checks out the money, burning millions of dollars, putting things at risk. Those kinds of functions become responsible of every action. So, the whole thing is a question of balance.

The ability to execute the vision is possibly the biggest challenge of the Exec team.

  1. What will the role of data analytics be in this revolution?

If you take the first thing that comes out in the digital world, it is data. There is so much data in every aspect of our life, every moment. We are being absolutely bombarded with data. Our memory spans have reduced. In today’s mindset, I don’t think people have the patience to read a booklet. This data is compressed and made consumable through AI and Analytics. This is turned into information. But then, to turn it into information, you need to know, what information you were after. You need to take the data in a certain way. From information, comes knowledge. Then you personalise it. Then you look at the information and say, I’ve read the report, what I’ve learnt out of the report is this, this and that. And then, beyond that comes very, very content specific, decisions.

For instance, if you are an insurance company and you want to know the information on who are the people who do not have an insurance and are most likely to become my customers? And if there are certain attributes that you identify, you may decide whether it is important or not and do something with it.

2/2 of his exclusive interview. Click here to read the first part.

Why AR will be the next big thing?

Augmented and Virtual Reality Education – The future of classrooms

In our last series on AR-VR in Education, we touched on the basics of these technologies in education, how teachers’ roles can be shaped to make them better educators and how students can benefit from immersive technology.

Augmented and Virtual Reality are no longer in their stages of infancy. They are widely being used across multiple verticals.

A Lenovo research found that almost 50% of teachers estimate VR will be commonplace in schools in the next five years.

(Image Courtesy: thinkmobiles.com)

AR and VR in education boosts learning from a multi-fold perspective:

  1. increases student engagement
  2. increases knowledge retention
  3. facilitates holistic learning
  4. reduce classroom disruption
  5. encourages collaborative and individual learning
  6. enables teachers to better prepare lessons
  7. creates an immersive environment
  8. easily explain abstract content

AR-VR apps used at classrooms:

  • Wynn Middle School, USA has successfully tested the uses of AR for cross-curricular projects where students created AR posters to demonstrate physical activity using the ACES method (answer, cite, explain, summarize) for written responses. This student centric activity has made learning more engaging and fun say teachers.
  • Dubai British School, UAE has been using VR to facilitate virtual tours to aid students in learning. For instance, travel to Africa to explore the African desert is near to impossible to arrange. Or viewing the Mars orbit line in a Geography class. VR has been bridging this gap in imagination and enables students visualise them, thereby enabling comprehensive learning.
  • Magic Mirror pilot – A group of anatomy specialists tested an interactive and personalised AR system to facilitate learning in medical school. This system behaves as a “magic mirror” which allows personalized in‐situ visualization of anatomy on the user’s body. Furthermore, the app displays medical images, and 3D models of organs that the user can interact with. The results showed 91.7% approval for the capability of AR technology to display organs in 3D, and 86.1% approval for the educational value of the technology.
  • University of Rochester, USA simulated reactions in a chemical plant using an AR table-top developed in-house. They are using AR to create new types of STEM undergraduate labs that were not possible earlier. Students used coffee mugs and popsicle sticks to simulate reactions in real-life, sprawling chemical plant.
  • University of Nebraska Medical Center, USA They have been using head mounted AR glasses and large 3-D video displays to simulate realistic body parts for med school students. Sensing huge potential in this space, the university is building a state-of-the-art dedicated 3-D simulation centre which is expected to have the world’s first five-sided laser cave.

Studies suggest students can absorb a visual scene within 0.01 seconds! Moving towards a fully digital world, AR and VR act as the window to this visual sense. Students get a first experience and wholly understand a concept. This method of teaching promotes visual learning beyond just kinder-garden.

Immersive technologies are set to change to completely revamp future ways of learning and teaching by bringing the world inside the four-walls.

Best Augmented Travel Apps to use On The Go

Augmented reality technology has already proven immensely successful in the realm of gaming and entertainment. It’s also made forays into industries such as defence and the military. But it doesn’t stop there. AR is making some interesting inroads into the industries of transportation and tourism through more augmented travel apps.

Related post: What is Augmented Reality?

AR apps for public transport

One such example is illustrated by a new breed of AR-based apps for public transportation. These apps take pertinent information such as train schedules, delays, stop information and so on and overlay it on real world images. For example, fire up an app, point your phone at a train map in New York City, and immediately your display comes to life with information about train schedules, turnstile date and even how many people are in the subway.

 

 

 

 

 

This is exactly how an iOS augmented travel app called Tunnel Vision works. Pulling data from the Metropolitan Transport Authority, the app draws over your camera feed, giving the user real time information. It also provides complementary information such as rent prices or median incomes of various neighbourhoods, giving the user a unique depth of information. Quite a refreshing change from gazing at a static train map for a few minutes.

Related post: How AR is changing the way we travel?

AR apps to overcome the language barriers

Similarly, if you find yourself travelling in Switzerland, download the Departures Switzerland app. This one doesn’t even require a map. Just point your phone in the direction of the nearest station or stop and a digital destination board overlays your image. It sure beats asking for directions, especially if you don’t speak the language. Already, the updated Google Translate app now features augmented reality capabilities. Imagine pairing that with a public transport/tourism app. You could confidently navigate the intricate train networks of Tokyo or Moscow without fear of complexity or language barriers.

Related post: Augmented Reality Transport Improving Daily Life?

Virtual tours

Furthermore, existing AR apps that allow you to take virtual tours of your intended hotel or explore local attractions. That would be amazing transportation-cum-tourism app. Augmented travel apps have helped tourists navigate train lines, to assisting cyclists in urban traffic and improving logistics transportation optimization. However, augmented reality has significant room to develop in this industry and will do so over the coming years.

Image source:

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Benefits of Immersive Technology in Education

Prosper Cumps-ruelle

Prosper Cumps-Ruelle, Developer, Appearition

In the past few years, many new types of technologies have emerged to help us embrace new ways to learn, view content and interact with it. By consequences, existing technologies and techniques are getting reviewed for their efficiency, reliability and cost.

Some game changing innovations that can revolutionize learning and teaching are the three main immersive technologies: Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR).

When it comes to studies, VR and MR can make a difference in a student’s learning by providing it more engagement with the material, a more immersive interaction (and in turn, less distraction), advanced and more relevant testing as well as getting the students hands on simulations early on. Each aspect of those immersive technologies can add a major improvement on almost every milestone of a student’s journey.

Interactive theory

Theory modules could be improved using VR by granting the student a broader look of its study material, as well as ways to interact with it. In the case of medical studies, students learning the details about bone and joint structure would gain the ability to view a given 3D object of an articulation, move around, twist and deconstruct the joint to have a better understanding of how it truly works. It would also make the understanding of specific diseases on certain body parts easier to visualize by animating the body part deterioration, which wouldn’t be as easily done with either objects or videos. The biggest challenge with theory modules is that students struggle a lot keeping themselves engaged with constant intensive learning, which is where immersive technologies and gamification can come in to help.

Technology in practice

Practical modules could be improved with both VR and MR by letting the student manipulate objects either in virtual space using VR, either in real space while being given additional information using MR. For engineering students, a MR workflow would let the student interact with objects with either virtual labels tracking real objects being manipulated. Furthermore, extra tutorial information for an experiment, such as the current step, the rules, safety precautions, will be available. For some potentially risky practical experiments, VR could help out by providing the student a realistic environment without risks, allowing the student to learn by trying without the fear of failing.

Creative Reality

Creative students could also benefit a lot from those technologies on both theory and practical sides. When it comes to creative fields, such as design and art, communication could be greatly improved by having hands on easy-to-use immersive devices. In design, prototyping is one of the most constraining bit because of the need to provide accurate information within a limited time. Certain fields of design, such as game design and 3D modeling/animation often requires the students to either go through a lot of writing or a lot of work to express a simple idea; while tools such as Tilt Brush (by Google) could provide a quick visual (perhaps animated) understanding of the idea.

A holistic learning environment

Immersive technologies could help testing students’ knowledge more properly than paper tests or most assessing methods currently used. When applied properly, VR/MR can create an environment suited for series of testing specific to the material: In the field of medicine, it can simulate an accurate stressful situation where a patient is going through an emergency while its family is screaming in the corridor, an electric engineering student can experience diagnosing an electric installation on a rough and windy day, architecture students could experiment structure design against various natural catastrophes or crowd simulations, design students could spend less time accurately brainstorming a prototype before getting started with the production, etc.

Using the growing Immersive Technologies, there’s a possible improvement in every field of study, in various aspects, allowing students to have a more engaging, smoother and fun learning.

If it keeps on rainin, the levee’s gonna break.

It is common knowledge that as technology evolves, individuals are becoming more informed and driven to create content aligned to their passions. Think about the content you are seeing in your social feeds – your colleague’s oddball memes, Aunt Sue with puppy’s ears and your old school mate Trevor Lam and his latest “work of art” – everyone around us is getting more and more able to express their creativity and publish it too. Facebook Augmented Reality (AR) is going to allow people to express themselves a whole lot more.

 

Give everyone the power to share anything with anyone.

– Mark Zuckerberg

 

What is F8 – and why should you care?

The Facebook Developers conference (F8) was first hosted in 2007 – where the team at FB presented the social graph – or a rendition of the concept of a social network. Subsequent editions of F8 hosted similarly theoretical principles behind the evolution of the behemoth that FB is today. Essentially, this is the conference where they announce their next plans, and given how integrated FB is in our lives today – you might want to be aware of what’s ahead.

 

F8 2017: Facebook Augmented Reality

Earlier this week, at F8 2017, Mark Zuckerberg (Zuck!) shared an update on the next phase of FB’s 10-year product plan, originally shared in at F8 2016. Commencing with some warm up jokes about the release of Fast and the Furious 8 (the “other” F8 ) this week, Zuck proceeded to give us a snapshot of how FB plans to integrate AR into camera functions in their apps.

 

Click to read: Business Insider’s article on the release of the FB 10-year plan

Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote from Day 1 of F8

 

FB, AR & Cameras – how do they come together?

In recent times, the FB family of apps (FB, Messenger, Instagram & Whatsapp) have seen the integration of camera icons across the board – enabling functions such as video conferencing. While these changes have gone unnoticed by some, it is estimated that the FB messenger app has 1.2 billion monthly users.

 

Facebook-Messenger-Video-Calling

FB Messenger with camera Icon (Source: Forbes)

Click to read: Forbes article on Facebook Messenger passing 1.2 billion users

 

And how does AR fit into this equation?

Zuck went on to share a common understanding that AR is essentially used for three key purposes;

  • The overlay of data onto the physical reality around us – such as messages or information
  • The ability to add digital objects into our surroundings – like a virtual television or gaming avatars
  • Enhancements to physical objects around us – like buildings or human faces.

Facebook Augmented Reality will work by aggregating these tools – the cameras within FB apps will allow users to create AR “experiences” – and they will seem quite familiar once you see them. AR is not rare – we’ve all seen it in one form or the other – quite possibly most recently in the form of Pokemon Go.

Now, we all know that Pokemon Go was a huge driver in bringing AR to the mainstream – even if it was little more than a temporary fad for most. You’ve also undoubtedly heard us go on about how the popularity of the game was influential in the voluminous cash injection industry players received in 2016. But this could very well be, to quote Led Zeppelin, when the levee’s gonna break.

 

Where might you have seen AR in action?

Some use cases we’ve found interesting

 

So how does it all work exactly? (A splash of technical jargon)

This vision comes to life with the incorporation of some technological building blocks;

  • Simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) – a technique borrowed from Artificial intelligence – enabling users to integrate digital elements into the reality in front of them
  • 3D effects – capturing and interacting with scenes that you can explore and effects that you can adjust
  • Object recognition – technology that can identify items around you, that can then be targets for the overlay of digital content

 

What about Virtual Reality?

AR and Virtual Reality align quite well, and in that vein, FB is launching a platform called Facebook spaces – where you can interact with people in a virtual environment through the Oculus Rift.

 

Facebook spaces (from F8 2017)

Meanwhile, we’ve been doing our own experiments with the Rift too!

image1 (1)

 

 

Early days in terms of adoption – and the plan for an open platform

Zuck reiterated a key message around AR: It is yet in a rudimentary phase of development – and most of the use cases around us are still evolving too. Don’t expect the world to change overnight.

That being said, in offering an open platform and leveraging the huge universe that lives on FB – users will be able to create AR experiences on their own, and share them online. In doing so, new users will have access to parallel creations by fellow users from around the internet.

This spike in available content will invariably help everyone around us find AR experiences that fit their fancy – especially if this punt from FB is a good one – and at Appearition, we certainly believe Facebook Augmented Reality is going to be something special for all of us.

 

The Magic that is AR – QnA with Tomi T Ahonen

Over the past few years – you would have heard us refer to Tomi T Ahonen – a thought leader in the tech space with a distinct passion for AR and author of 12 books on mobile. We are delighted to share a brief QnA that Tomi was kind enough to do with us – 5 questions, 5 minutes (and a bit) – Enjoy!
 
1. How do you think augmented reality/virtual reality industry has evolved over the past 5 years and where would you like to see the industry in the next 5 years? 
 
AR is in an exploratory phase right now. The things that made Pokemon Go such a big hit last year, the individual elements had all been done already before, only Nintendo and Niantic managed to put in the ‘right mix’ of the right elements. But I do believe the future of AR will have us looking at Pokemon Go of 2016 as the ‘early dawn’ and the service be to the industry similar to what MySpace was to social media before Facebook. An initial successful ‘proof-of-concept’ vehicle but others will emerge far bigger and more successful than even this – bearing in mind that Pokemon Go was the most successful new game launch in gaming history. 
 
For the industry I think the next five years will see more validation of various business concepts that will be seen as viable and steady. I think the Ikea furniture catalog AR application is one of the most sustainable on a retail/commerce side; various user-assistance uses of AR in say the Audi user-manual for cars, are an obvious big area that can now get a boost when AR has been ‘validated’ by Pokemon Go. But in 5 years AR will have a Billion consumers using it, AR will be as normal for most users on their smartphones as going to Facebook or Whatsapp or Skype might be today.
 
TV is old news, mobile is now, but AR is the next big thing
 
2. Who, in your opinion, are the more influential players in this industry, and where do you see the most potential for development?
 
I think the big driver for AR is entertainment at least initially. It is a very ‘fun’ type of use of mobile, especially if you compare to say ‘payments’ and mobile money, which is far more ‘useful’ than strictly fun (who loves paying?). I would think that again, the Pokemon Go experience will drive other brands from Disney to Hollywood and TV, to start to deploy AR into their brand experiences. Imagine the next James Bond movie (isn’t it time 007 visited Australia?) – I could very well imagine a Bond-themed adventure ‘game’ with AR that included elements from the movie and set ideally in locations that the movie itself was shot. Or take any of the big action hero movies, the Iron Man, Superman, Spiderman, Batman etc type of movies – these would seem like naturals to go to AR soon. Any strictly animated movies and various currently-popular TV shows – they should already have some kind of AR concept under development to ‘be the next Pokemon Go’ haha..
 
If we think of tech companies, I don’t see anyone moving ahead of the pack so far. And on AR specialist firms, Layar had an early head-start but they don’t seem to (at least yet) have gotten to that ‘Google front-runner’ status of what we typically see in tech like Amazon in retail or Facebook in social media etc.
 
3. Everyone has been talking about AR extensively, particularly post Pokemon, but in your opinion, what are the top 3 benefits of this technology?
 
First off, AR is truly magical. As such, it appeals remarkably strongly to young people. I would guess that once the big ‘youth brands’ figure out that TV is old news, mobile is now, but AR is the next big thing – we will see news like Adidas made last week, when they said they will end TV advertisements because the youth are on their smartphones. I can foresee a time when especially youth-targeted brands start to set AR as their primary media/advertising channel. Secondly AR is ‘illustrative’ and by this I mean it can show us what to do, and how to do it. In any kind of learning situation, AR can project the video of the optimal performance and that can be incredibly powerful in helping illustrate how to do things. User guides and manuals will soon all be AR-enabled. Don’t make me read a manual. Show me how to do it. And the third big benefit is that AR is inherently digital AND inherently mobile. That means it is fully ready for the future digitally-converged world when our money and communciations and media and consumption and behavior and preferences etc will all be done through mobile and using digital means. AR could become ‘the next thing’ after video on mobile. This would be on the progression that mobile was first voice, then text, then pictures, now videos, and next… AR. But we have to see if that comes to be.
 
4. Given the relative ease of implementing the technology, what are some challenges faced by companies looking to adopt AR at an enterprise level?
 
A big problem for most businesses is to find a suitably frequent behavior that could be enhanced or expanded via AR. So if you bought your new car, and once had a problem changing the oil, and used the AR guide once – you will pretty much forget its even possible and won’t get the chance to explore and ‘enjoy’ it. Even as the car company may have built many dozens of AR use-cases to assist the car-owner. But in the case of Pokemon Go there is a lot of ‘repetitive’ behavior and ‘returning’ behavior, so you have to come back and nurture the eggs, and walk the distance to hatch the eggs, and so forth. They have done a lot of thinking on the human ‘addiction-building’ repetitive behavior. I often tell the story of cinema vs bus ticket in mobile payments. Most people go to the cinema only a few times per year. We don’t really ‘learn’ or ‘remember’ that we could pay for that ticket on our mobile phone. But if we commute to work or school every day by bus, we’ll learn in a few days how much more convenient it is to pay by mobile.
 
AR is truly magical. As such, it appeals remarkably strongly to young people.
 
5. Any final thoughts/advice to newcomers in the industry or people wanting to learn how it all works?
 
I do look for the magical. A Disney birthday cake that has Cinderella in it to sing to the 5 year old princess that special day. A penguin at a Tokyo zoo who shows the path how to get from the train station to the zoo, and the penguin waddles exactly like a real penguin, as it walks. This is the kind of magic we can experience in AR and we should seek more of that. And make sure the consumers can share and spread the fun with their friends, through social media etc.
 
Note: Check out Tomi’s Tedx Talk on Augmented Reality being the 8th Mass Medium
 

Staff Blog: Mucking about with 360 VideoSphere VR Part 3

Interested in 360 VideoSphere (360 Virtual Reality)? This series shares what I learnt producing a short film aboard an old Sailing Ship for the Melbourne Fringe Festival[1].

In the last update, my team of volunteers were looking forward to shooting our first 360 VR short film. Then we hit a hurdle. Our cinematographer was unable to do any test shots or editing, due to incompatibility with his computer and the festival’s practice camera.

AWFUL AUDIO, OR AUDACIOUS?

The hurdle was followed by a face-first tumble into the mud when our sound engineer had an overseas job at the same time as the shoot. We could not reschedule; Melbourne Regatta Day aligned with our shooting window, and was too good to miss.

Plan B. We contacted other specialists, and they were keen to try 360 VideoSphere production, but there was not enough time to line up people and equipment. So we fell back to Plan C; use the Samsung Gear 360 camera’s inbuilt microphone. This would not be great if you’re recording a concert, or producing a narrative that requires directional sound to direct audience attention. Still, for our purposes we were pretty pleased with the quality.

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NEW TECHNOLOGY? IF WISDOM FAILS TRY TENACITY

Conventional wisdom with emerging technology is test it early and iron out the inevitable problems. It’s wisdom for a reason.

Unfortunately, the festival’s production units were unavailable in advance. So, we could give up, or improvise and manage the risk. We decided to go for it, and as expected, encountered problems right away.

It is not possible to get behind a 360 camera and look through a viewfinder, but with the Samsung Gear you can use your phone as a remote viewer. A nifty feature, unless as in this case, Samsung block access to the app because you’re in a country where the Camera has yet to be officially released. The festival hadn’t identified this issue because like us, this was their inaugural spin on the 360 dancefloor.

Short of trying solutions like IP masking to make it look like we were in South Korea (where the camera was bought) we would have to shoot blind – so that’s what we did. For example, we climbed the mast and out onto a yardarm to attach the camera. Then, we recovered it after 10 minutes to physically connect it to my laptop and review the footage.

Sometimes even workarounds need a workaround. The case around the camera’s USB port was too small for our cable, and modifying the borrowed camera was out of the question. Our resident inventor, Andrew, borrowed the skipper’s knife and whittled away his own USB cable’s superfluous housing. I admit, I was sceptical but it fit neatly into the Camera’s port.

IN THE NEXT UPDATE

So after a long day shooting we had plenty of good footage.

However, 360 VideoSphere (360 VR) film is captured on multiple cameras. So, this composite footage must be “stitched” together before it can be edited. The results create some unique trials in the editing suit!

USEFUL LINKS

 

For an immersive experience and ease of use try using a Google Cardboard headset and selecting this icon in YouTube: google_cardboard_logo

 

CONTACT US






Staff Blog: Mucking about with 360 VideoSphere VR Part 2

All Goes Well, Until It Doesn’t

Interested in 360 VR (VideoSphere)? This series shares what I learnt producing one aboard an old Sailing Ship for the Melbourne Fringe Festival[1].

I was lucky enough to come across the opportunity at a VR (Virtual Reality) meetup to produce a VideoSphere short film, with the camera and expert guidance supplied[2]. I have produced traditional video, and was already intrigued after seeing two staff from ABC TV talk about their experience at an earlier Mixed Reality meetup[3].

When Amy Nelson and Astrid Scott explained how they produced the ABC’s first 360 production, I was struck by how accessible they made it[4]. They faced the challenge of placing their camera on a pole over an angry bull in the middle of a rodeo in outback Queensland. For other shots they had the camera operator hiding behind a barrel. Not because of the bull, but because hiding the crew behind the camera is not an option, when there is no “behind” the camera.

They were candid about accepting mistakes. They knew that many of the rules learned over the last century do not apply to this medium so new practices must be developed through experimentation.

So given this chance, my first thought was ‘brilliant!’ which is my reaction to anything related to Virtual and Augmented Reality. But I had no team, no 360 experience, and no time. So, it had everything going for it but common sense.

1830’s Cultural Heritage Meets 360 Video

The festival required a proposal. Cultural Heritage (i.e. history) kinda rocks and everybody loves old fashioned sailing ships, whatever their opinion of Johnny Depp’s (over)acting in Pirates of the Caribbean. However, not everybody can spend time aboard one, let alone to climb out onto a yard-arm high above the deck. I have been a volunteer aboard the Enterprize, an educational tourism ship, for the last few years, and this was a way to share the experience.

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The first step was to create a storyboard (a sequence of shots, like panels in a comic book) and get the festival and the ship’s management on board.

The next step was to put together a team. For the cinematography I called on Andrew Gotts, an old friend who has worked in video production. He enjoys experimental technology, and has a good head for heights. He suggested an editor, Nadia Nusatea, so that made three. We still required an audio specialist so I approached Darius Kedros who runs a VR Audio special interest group[5].

There were a few short weeks to learn the technology, shoot and edit. But we now had a plan, a team, and something to film.

Cameras and Audio Equal Trouble and Strife

Then, bad news. The practice camera provided was incompatible with Andrew’s hardware, and we could not borrow the production camera until less than a day before the shoot. Our choices were to quit, or go in blind.

Worse news. Darius would be overseas for an extended period. Understandably he did not want to risk his very expensive audio capture equipment with somebody else; particularly when it would be suspended over salt water.

Next week

In next week’s edition: All At Sea But Problem Solving: We improvise to solve our production problems and capture our footage, but even editing 360 creates its own obstacles

Useful Links

Many of these are Melbourne (Australia) based, but you can find similar resources wherever you are.

  1. Part 1 of this Series: https://www.appearition.com/mucking-about-with-360-videosphere-vr/ 
  2. Nathan Beattie’s VR Developers’ Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/Melbourne-VR/
  3. Leah Bunny and Emily Harridge’s Real World VR Meetuphttps://www.meetup.com/Melbourne-VR-Virtual-Reality-Meetup/
  4. ABC TV’s first 360 VideoSphere production: http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-03/vr:-the-life-of-a-bronc-rider/6966832
  5. Darius Kedros and Sally Kellaway’s VR Audio Group: http://www.meetup.com/Melbourne-AR-VR-Audio-Meetup/

 

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Staff Blog: Mucking about with 360 VideoSphere VR Part 1

I looked about Antarctica in all directions. From the snowy landscape rising towards the centre of the continent to the waves breaking against the beach; a beach made of large pebbles, clearly visible at my feet.

VideoSphere (360 video) is real world footage that enables you to look in all directions including up and down even on a regular computer. Use a VR (Virtual Reality) headset and it will fill your field of view and move with your head. This means you are no longer limited to a window predefined by somebody else. I’m a history geek so I used it for Cultural Heritage. However, if it is broadcast live, at your sister’s wedding or a music concert, you can be 1,000 miles away, but see exactly what you would see sitting in the audience.

My first experience was with its sibling, PhotoSphere (which are 360 still images). I was “standing” on the Antarctic beach, while physically located in my kitchen in Australia, thanks to Paul Pichugin[1].

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360 Video in Practice 

If you have not come across VideoSphere it is only a matter of time. Mainstream news organisations, tourism and sporting bodies are already using it as more than a novelty. You can even produce it yourself for family and friends.

At the entry level, you can pick up a decent camera with respectable sound capture, such as the Samsung Gear 360[2], for under US$500 (plus software such as Adobe Premiere[3] and a computer with enough grunt to run it. If you’re a serious professional and have US$45,000 handy, you can pick up Nokia Ozo, a bargain down from its original US$60,000 price tag[4]

Another factor is sound. Capturing ambient noise is not difficult. If you would like to capture directional sound and edit layers of sound (e.g. voice, action, music, and ambient) to a high quality then you may need a sound technician with a directional sound rig, editing desk, and software.

Using VideoSphere Yourself 

If you’re interested in producing your own VideoSphere, having one done professionally, or are just curious about the technology, you can read this series. I’ll cover the lessons (and mistakes to avoid) that I learnt by producing this short film aboard an old-fashioned Sailing Ship[5] for the Melbourne Fringe Festival. You can watch the video below on Youtube with a Google Cardboard headset and selecting the google_cardboard_logo symbol. 

A quick aside on the furious debate – VR or not VR

You may encounter an argument that 360 should not be referred to as VR because you can look but not touch. I.e. you can’t interact the way you can with responsive computer generated (CG) content. It’s true, but it’s like arguing that a spider is not an insect. most people just don’t care. So, for the sake of simplicity I am bundling this into the Mixed Reality family.

Next week

Tune in next week for my next article: All Goes Well, Until It Doesn’t: Putting together a production in record time with technology so new it has not yet been released in the country has its risks

Useful Links
    1. Paul Pichugin’s Antarctica: http://immersiveimages.com.au/tours/antarctica/#s=pano10
    2. Samsung Gear 360 Camera: http://www.samsung.com/global/galaxy/gear-360/
    3. Adobe Premiere video editing software: https://helpx.adobe.com/premiere-pro/system-requirements.html
    4. Nokia Ozo 360 Camera: https://ozo.nokia.com/# 
    5. Melbourne’s Tall Ship Enterprize: http://www.enterprize.org.au/

 

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Three ways to use virtual reality to drive social change

In this day and age, we can use social media, augmented reality and virtual reality to drive social change by altering the way we campaign for causes. When a potential audience of billions can be reached with content to highlight a social issue, the impact is often swift and significant – think of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) have major roles to play in an era where change is literally in the palm of anyone’s hand. Here’s why.

It gives people a voice

billgates-booksOne of the best ways to open hearts and minds to a cause is to connect potential contributors with the people who stand to benefit from their con
tributions. No less than Bill Gates has shown how it’s done, allowing readers of his blog
Gates Notes to join him in his efforts to combat AIDS in Africa in a 360-degree VR film. “Meeting” people living with AIDS and the people working towards an AIDS-free future inspires viewers to make a difference.

 

Helping others connect with a situation

 

Now that you’ve met the people who need your help, VR can give you a better understanding of why they need your help. “If you could shuffle all of the homes in the world like a deck of cards so that people in wealthy countries lived side by side with people from poor countries, it would transform the world’s fight against poverty, hunger, and disease,” Gates writes. “It would be impossible for people to look away, impossible for them not to help.”

syria

It can be difficult to connect with an issue when you don’t see it for what it really is. Even consistent news coverage has the tendency to fade into the background when we only hear one-off stories and see isolated images. Take the Syrian refugee crisis. The Syrian civil war has gone on for so long. Many people are now numb to the suffering of civilians affected by the conflict. With immersive 360-degree VR films, however, you are not able to tune out or multi-task; you focus on the subject. The International Rescue Committee recognised this and used it in a film called Four Walls, made in collaboration with YouVisit. In Four Walls, you experience the living conditions of a refugee camp in Lebanon and witness the claustrophobia first-hand. You also see how their hopes and desires are not far removed from your own.

The results of these campaigns, as reported by Adweek, are promising. From the Syrian refugee crisis to non-profits championing clean water and education, VR films have brought in donations. In a recent UNICEF campaign, a VR film telling the story of a Syrian girl living in a refugee camp in Jordan boosted donations to US$3.8 billion – double what they expected to receive.

Putting benefactors in the shoes of beneficiaries

For organisations fighting diseases and illnesses, one important way to generate donations is to show people what it would be like to have that disease or illness themselves. To do that, Alzheimer’s Research UK and Visyon launched A Walk Through Dementia, a Google Cardboard app. This app recreates everyday situations faced by those who suffer from dementia – grocery shopping, walking around the neighbourhood visyon_-a-walk-through-dementia-1and simply being at home. Improving the public’s knowledge and pushing them to see the difficulty of life with the condition shifts it away from being an abstract concept. Recognising the impact that dementia could have on your own life and the lives of the people you care about, you realise the importance of taking immediate action and supporting organisations doing research to defeat
it.

Inspired to take your cause further with mixed reality? We want to be on your team. At Appearition, our goal is simple – tailored solutions that maximise ROI and deliver sustainable stakeholder value. We employ a partnership model driven by principles in change management. We ensure the complex mesh created by our solutions makes sense for our clients. Contact us to find out more.

Sources

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)

Image Sources

(1) (2) (3) (4)

 

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IndustryAR: Augmented Reality Military Training

For soldiers to be effective, training must resemble real world scenarios as closely as possible. Real life battle conditions are loud, chaotic and dangerous. However augmented reality military training is a safer way to engage soldiers in real life simulations. 

battlefieldmedic2There is the real possibility of death or injury and a soldier can easily be overwhelmed by sensory overload. That is why realistic training is essential to building muscle memory and desentizing a soldier to the unique stimulus of real world battle conditions. This will also help in producing an effective, efficient soldier.

The challenge of augmented reality military training is, it is still fairly new. Thus, like any technology in its relative infancy, expensive and bulky.

Indeed, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) cited the “burden on the soldier” as one of the impediments to AR adoption.

The others barriers mentioned towards augmented reality military training were minor. These obstacles can and will be easily addressed over time as the technology evolves and is tweaked and perfected. Barriers such as a lack of accuracy in terms of a digitally generated element in a user’s field of vision; or the pace of the technology evolving.navyvr

Augmented reality has also proved useful in providing support for naval operations. This is done by speeding up an operator’s decision making and helping to reduce mistakes. The technology takes a cognitive load off the operator by interpreting and processing technical information. It then presents it in a more easily understood format.

It also helps engineers and maintenance crews by facilitating repairs, disassembly and general maintenance via interactive technical diagrams, videos and animations.

Augmented reality is picking up where virtual reality left off, providing high-fidelity augmentation to already hyper-realistic military training. It enhances real world training scenarios with essential elements that are cheaper and safer to replicate, while maintaining the verisimilitude of the battlefield.

Furthermore, augmented reality military training reduces the cognitive load on operators. It also provides easily understood information to speed up decision making. All of this not on a separate screen, but on the very reality of the battlefield itself, in the real world, in real time.

 

Image source: (1) (2) (3)

 

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IndustryAR: Augmented Reality in Defence and Military

When it comes to defence and the military, every advantage matters. We live in a technological age where the most effective military is not one with the most soldiers, but the best technology. And the best technology right now is Augmented Reaaugmented-reality-600lity (AR) in defence.

The US military has already begun employing AR technology in its training cycles, most notably during an Infantry Officer Course in Quantico last year.

Young Marines got to test out a new AR-based system known as the Augmented Immersive Team Trainer (AITT). It’s a system that trains troops in calling in airstrikes and artillery barrages.

Traditionally, this form of training is difficult to conduct. Munitions and targets can only be used once and aircraft and artillery barges are prohibitively expensive, and often unavailable during these training cycles.

However, the AITT proved extremely beneficial in this regard. The expensive components such as aircraft, bombs and their resulting explosions, could be digitally created and overlaid on a real-world training battlefield.

These elements would of course be required to behave realistically, a fairly easy task. There was no need to worry about limited munitions, unavailable jets or single-use targets.

The added bonus is that unlike virtual reality, augmented reality in defence allowed troops to go through the actual physical motions of training. Soldiers require actual walls and stairs, real world obstacles to build up muscle memory.

Another advantage of augmented reality in military training systems is its mobility. Current USMC training requires Marines to go to a specific location and often requires the use of significant contractor support. With AR-based training systems however, these devices can be move around easily and the set up is usually far less complicated.

df4fad14-9444-11e4-_831351cThe reason why virtual reality falls short is that it takes away from the real world battlefield. It’s great for a fighter pilot in a cockpit simulator, as he essentially deals with buttons, joysticks and screens. He himself is static while it is his vehicle that moves in space.
Thus, apart from the massive G-forces, this is fairly easy to simulate through VR.

Also, similar technology such as Google Glass can sometimes be more of an impediment than an asset.

It is essentially another screen, just much closer to the eye of the soldier. There is still a cognitive load and time lag when a soldier shifts his attention to the screen. He will then need to mentally processes that information in relation to his real world situation. Augmented reality in defence does the processing for you. The information overlayed in an understandable format. In other words, you simply ‘see it as it is’.

 

Image source: (1) (2) (3)

 

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