Posts

IAMAI – Augmented and Virtual Reality committee

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) recently formed an industrial expert committee to develop and promote immersive technologies – Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) ecosystem in India.

‘The committee was formed to identify opportunities and challenges to help India’s AR/VR ecosystem, in partnership with government, industry and startups,’ says Kalyan Biswas, Associate Vice President, IAMAI.

This initiative will help to promote the fast-growing technology to drive economic growth, jobs and skill development in the country.

The committee is chaired by Namrita Mahindro, Senior General Manager, – Digital Transformation, Mahindra Group and co-chaired by Satyajeet Singh, Head –Strategic Product Partnership, India & South Asia, Facebook.

Committee’s agenda:

While speaking to Appearition about the committee’s plans, Biswas said they aim to:

–    nurture India’s AR/VR technology and talent ecosystem, particularly, skill development

–    engage with business, industry and government to evangelise acceptance of the technology

–    help drive training workshops, to familiarise potential users with technology and build use cases in key sectors

‘Currently, we have formed two sub-groups of 4-5 members each. The sub-groups would help in planning and guide IAMAI in executing the plan as agreed by the committee, building Ecosystem and help in the interaction with Government,’ explains Biswas.

The Indian AR-VR market is set to grow at a compound annual rate of 76% in the next five years. [1] With immersive technologies redefining the future of the workplace, such a committee with an agenda to drive the adoption is a welcome move.

Source: [1] https://bit.ly/2OZdrTj

 

 

 

Register your Interest for our Unity SDK Beta Test Program

Appearition invites users to join closed beta testing group for Enterprise SDK – here’s how to sign up.

Appearition is looking to recruit about 50 people to a closed, private group of beta testers to help in early builds of software for the EMS Enterprise Unity SDK. Eligible users would need to, be active in the Unity developer community, be willing to give feedback, and also sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Closed Beta program is an opportunity for us to listen to your feedback and refine or revise our product strategy based on that. It also helps us to find major bugs at an early stage and release more stable Open Beta and official builds.

The Closed Beta Group is the closest group to Appearition staff. Given the privacy aspect, you are required to sign an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) with Appearition to be part of this program.

Register your interest here. Simply fill out the information required.

Education: Then versus Now

Technology has evolved so much in the past few years that computers and have tablets have virtually replaced the traditional teaching aids.

Take a look at how it has changed in the past few years:

Shaping future minds

Disruptive technologies like Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are changing the face of enterprises as we know it. Appearition is constantly working towards educating young minds in these technologies and making them future ready.

Appearition along with our partners Real Time Learning and Epson was a part of a day-long session to educate kids between the ages 9 and 12 and provide an overview to their parents on Extended Reality (XR) (which covers the spectrum from AR to VR) – what is it all about and how one can use it.

The event was organised by ANZ bank for the children of staff over the school holidays in support of STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) workshops.

Sujanth and Brendan of Appearition provided guidance through the day, supporting hands-on learning with AR and VR.

A learning curve

Epson’s Dwayne Williams brought Moverio AR headsets to enable kids to experience AR. Several kids and their parents learnt in detail about the basics of the technology, its application and benefits.

‘Students experienced Virtual Reality and were amazed to see virtual structures outside of the gadget. We believe that when students get acquainted with these technologies, it helps provide a better understanding of potential careers when they grow up,’ says Brendan Ridge, Solutions Specialist, Appearition.

This is one of the many EdTech outreach programmes that Appearition has been championing in the recent times. We hope to inspire a lot more in the days to come.

How will technology shape learning?

A look at the trends and impact of digital transformation and possibilities of AR in education and training

Technology has become an imperative part of education in the past decade. The introduction of immersive technologies meant interactive classes and unparalleled experience in learning. A study conducted by Justin Tosco, a master’s student at Saint Catherine University, shows that students prefer lessons that use technology.

The study found that there was 16% accuracy in short answers and increase engagement for students taught with the aid of technology.

We are currently living in a fully-digital world with average adults spending over 5-7 hours a day on the internet. And Generation Z – a popular name for today’s school-going kids, have grown along with this digital boom. This makes them quite familiar with the use of technology in everyday activities.

Research by Geer and Sweeney (2012) showed that the use of a variety of media applications to explain concepts increased the understanding and supported greater collaboration between students.

AR provides an efficient way to represent a model that needs visualization. This immersive technology provides seamless interaction between the real and virtual world. Furthermore, it facilitates field visits within four walls, thereby increasing visual retention.

Some key benefits of adopting technology in education:

  1. Improves knowledge retention (taps the potential of visual memory)

    Students learn multiple subjects at school and need to remember them all. Technology like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality bring content to life. Studies suggest that visual memory appeals to mind within 0.01 second! Students learn as they see, thereby sub-consciously retaining knowledge.

  2. Induces interest in students (provides the wide platform for students to self-exploration)

Generally, teaching is believed to be the mode of acquiring knowledge or learning. Immersive technologies facilitate self-learning, in a fun and engaging manner. Subjects like History, which are narrative and quite visual, can be easily learned through these.

  1. Facilitates holistic learning (caters to visual, auditory and speech sensory)

As a study rightly says, use of technology involves real-world problems, current informational resources, simulations of concepts, and communication with professionals in the field. In addition, learning using technology is believed to complement the traditional forms of teaching and learning. This promotes the visual, auditory and speech senses simultaneously.

  1. Reduce classroom disruption (aids students with limited attention span, engages a big class)

Learning and paying attention to new concepts are challenging for children with autism, down syndrome, etc. AR and VR have proven to improve their attention span, aid in expressing their self and improves their interactive behaviour. Furthermore, these technologies act as students’ centre of attraction, thereby reducing any possible distraction.

  1. Improves mastery of abstract subjects (theorems, certain chemical compounds, food chain)

Learning about obtuse triangle or explanation of food chain through mere theory makes a student’s life difficult. These are abstract concepts and are understood better when demonstrated. Augmented Reality and other similar technologies bring such abstract subjects to life with their overlay and video demonstration capacities.

  1. Visualisation of theoretical concepts (Eg: air pressure, Archimedes principle, types of clouds)

Learning by viewing animated objects leads to better understanding and simplifies what is taught. Immersive technology such as Virtual Reality can enable students to feel or experience some theoretical concepts like air pressure, or the working of Archimedes principle.

  1. Simplification of complex subjects (table of elements – their qualities, geometric formulae)

We have discussed on technologies ability to simplify learning. Let us understand this further:

The introduction of powerpoint slides or projectors meant students had a visual aid to break-down important points while being taught. Whereas, some of these technologies weren’t accessible always and by all students. With high levels of mobile penetration to Gen-Z, today’s technology like 3D learning, AR, VR, MR and AI are all accessible at the touch of a button on a mobile.

These technologies enable re-visiting and learning a concept at an individual time and pace. They further act as a personal tutor for students, walking them through every step.

  1. Objectification of content (providing a direction to what is being taught)

History and Civics are two subjects with relatively easy concepts to understand but can be quite monotonous if learnt theoretically. Use of technology in such subjects enable objectification of content and provides a skeletal frame to what is taught. For instance, when learning about legislature or an assembly, students can play-out scenarios of a majority, coalition or stages in creating a law. These are effective methods of teaching and enables them to grasp concepts better.

Advantages of AR in Education

  • Supports seamless interaction between real and virtual environments and allows the use of a tangible interface metaphor for object manipulation
  • Provide instructors with a way to strengthen students’ understanding in the classroom by augmenting physical props with virtual annotations and illustrations
  • Creates a learning experience that is linked to the formal classroom, so that student(s) can learn outside of class hours and outside of school limits
  • Enables the visualization of interactions among amino acids and protein building processes as static 2D/3D images and 3D dynamic images (animations)

(Source: University Teknologi Malaysia Research)

Applications in medical training

AR and VR are widely being used to train medical students in a number of ways. VR can be leveraged in training medical students and residents on procedures for a more truly immersive experience before engaging with real patients.

For patients, these technologies can speed education about conditions or treatment plans.

Use of virtual cadavers in anatomy training is one specific example, which can be extended to practice sessions with an AR-enhanced smartphone.

(Excerpts from Deloitte Digital Trends report)

The University of Twente, Netherlands is developing an economical smartphone technology based on the usage of Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) and Augmented Reality (AR). This technology enables medical personnel to reconstruct 3D body sections quickly, by directing the smartphone to the area of interest.

Subject wise application:

SubjectPurpose of the technologyFeatures used

Chemistry

Provides an efficient way to represent and interact with moleculesAR exhibits

Chemical engineering

Using a glass tabletop laden with coffee mugs and popsicle sticks, students rearranged the objects in a recent teaching exercise to simulate reactions in a real-life, sprawling chemical plant.Projector, AR table-top, QR coding

Mathematics

Aides teaching geometry, shapes, area etcAR and MR

Geography

Facilitates virtual tours; enables visualising different flora and fauna. To a certain level, immersive aspect lets students experience air pressure or view how a water cycle is complete.AR, VR and MR

History

To gather information and enhance the experience of visitors to cultural organisations (museums and archaeological sites)Mobile AR educational games

Biology

To teach participants that habitats are connected like links in a chain (food chain)
Facilitates students to view micro-organisms and their characteristics without the help of microscope (to an extent)
AR

Physics

To overlay graphics on top of the physical props to visualize these forces (speed, velocity, acceleration, pressure, friction, energy changes) invisible to the human eyeAugmented video, video conferencing, tracked physical props (e.g. toy cars)

Architecture

Enables 3D visualisation and walk-throughs of cites;

helps assess structural worthiness, measure area and volume;

aides error correction in draft plans easily with its layered approach
from lighting to flooring to foundations – it will also let designers test out environments before actually building them

AR, VR and MR

Astronomy

To show augmented views of the celestial bodies and support learning using spatial visual guides and views from a terrestrial observerAR and VR

Medicine

Enables complete learning of body parts from the external skin to internal organs;
facilitates in learning more on surgical points;
virtual cadavers help students overcome the fear of surgery;

virtual reality provides medical and dental students a safe and controlled environment to practice surgeries and procedures, allowing them to make mistakes without having any impact on an actual patient, and prepare for any unexpected situations.

AR for body over-lay

Holo-lens assisted surgery in VR

MR

Journalism

Will aid in separating verified and unverified news information;
news aggregators will also help identify a breaking news through social media and other related uploads before the first official news is out.
AI

 

The way forward:

Technologies such as AR, VR, MR, AI etc are fast changing the face of learning and education. Integration of these technologies benefits teachers along with students. With the aid of technology like AR, visualisation of subject matter improves. Teachers can impart knowledge and facilitate learning in a simple way.

Use of technology in learning should be focussed on student centred learning. As observed earlier, these have vast use in almost every field of work. These technologies have become the new basic skillset to work around just like emails and mobile apps.

Businesses are adopting AR and VR to enhance processes. They have proved to save time, cut costs and increase efficiency.

As disruptive technologies grow, thousands of jobs will be created, and several others’ skill sets will widen. Introduction to these technology concepts from school will better prepare students for a digital world ahead.

 

With excerpts from 1, 2, 3

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.

The Role of Management in the Changing Paradigms in Service

A look at the highlights of 2017 USA Field Service Benchmark Report:

Technology and Digital Transformation continues to shape the service industry. Most of the respondents said, their strategy was ‘mobile first’. Growing emphasis on mobiles and abundance of data is enabling organisations to focus on mobile technology and transformation.

 Key take-aways from the report

  1. Breed-solutions are the fad, as opposed to single platform solutions. The idea is to achieve maximum efficiency to embrace digital transformation.
  2. Most respondents said – they’ve been prioritising a mobile first mindset due to the increasing accessibility and growth of mobiles.
  3. To bridge the gap between knowledge and digital transformation – seems to be the quintessential need of the hour for enterprises.

Technology adoption

Among many booming technologies this year, 72% respondents said they’ve adopted or planning to add the ropes of cloud to their business. 30% of the businesses have added or planning to add the ropes of Augmented Reality (AR).

“I was quite surprised to see that technician adoption of new solutions ranked so highly as a challenge. With today’s technology, equipment comes to consumers, employees, and to businesses more and more without a real need to instruct on its use. The perception of complexity is really what holds technicians back. We invest a lot of time and energy into making technology easier to understand, and we deploy tools in the field that are as easy to operate as common applications you can run on IOS, Android, or a Windows device,” says Martin Knook, CEO Gomocha

 Need to evolve digitally

Surprisingly, 42% of the respondents said they initiated/ adopted digitisation and automation of field service activities to reduce costs. 34% of them wanted to go digital to increase transparency and ensure viability as a business.

Digital transformation trends

Technology is ever evolving. There is constant need to adopt to these innovations. The question here though, is how adoptive are businesses? 35% of the respondents said they’re agile enough to adopt an innovation cycle every three years. While, 28% of the enterprises preferred to work with solutions that were scalable and relevant for at least ten years.

This article is a re-written excerpt from the 2017 USA Field Services Benchmark Report. The graphs were sourced from the same report.

AR Digital Transformation and the Indian Market

Ravichandran Lakshminarayanan, Member, Board of Advisors, Appearition India speaks on Augmented Reality, Digital Transformation trends and the Indian market and more:

Your take on the AR/VR market in India.

Though AR/VR arrived, so to speak, maybe about three years back, significant impact or adoption (usage) is yet to be seen, be it in the consumer space (though we have VR centres in some malls or VR headgear sold with smartphones) or in the enterprise space.

AR/VR is certainly going to be a game changer for industries like retail, real estate, entertainment, and tourism in India.

Education is another area where we will see significant AR/VR adoption. (I foresee not only schools & colleges taking advantage of the power of AR/VR, but many other formal and non- formal fora including corporate/industrial training will take advantage of these frontier technologies).

The mobile market in India – Smartphones undergo constant metamorphosis. What features do you think they need to adapt to stay abreast with the AR/VR tech?

India is a price sensitive market. Today there are more than 300 million mobile phone connections, in India. Mobile phone sales literally skyrocketed, only because device prices came down drastically.

Mobile phones are going to drive AR/VR usage and it is very important that the AR/VR capable phones are priced right for the Indian market.

Next is content in local languages like Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada. For AR/VR to drive mass usage/adoption, local language content will be a key.

Last but not least, the devices(phones) will have to be more user-friendly than they are now.

 Your take on digital transformation for businesses these days.

Today there is no business that can shun or stay away from digital transformation. The degree of transformation or rather what percentage of the business is digital versus non-digital may vary from business to business but there’s not a single business that’s 100% non-digital.

In the Indian context, this is so particularly after the introduction of GST.

Though it has taken time, businesses have understood the benefits of digital transformation.

How has the Indian market reacted to digital transformation so far? What are some factors that seem to aid it/ factors that act as a barrier?

The Indian market was quite reluctant to accept/embrace digital transformation, initially.

The reasons were:

  • the market did not understand what digital transformation is.
  • the market could not see value in digital transformation immediately
  • digital transformation was taking firms/players out of their comfort zone
  • firms were unsure of the payback period if they opted for digital transformation.

Slowly but surely as a few early adopters took hesitant steps towards digital transformation and started ‘seeing’ the benefits, more and more firms followed. Today, I dare say, there are very few firms, if any, that have not been touched at all by digital transformation.

Today everybody understands that digital transformation is not only inevitable but benefits all. Firms are still evaluating their ROI and hence the pace of adoption is not ideal yet.

There are obstacles and challenges, the foremost being connectivity not only in terms of speed and price but in terms of reach. There are still many areas in the country where connectivity is very poor or non-existent.

Technologies like 5G and other indigenous technologies and solutions, will hopefully, address this issue.

What are some barriers that companies face while venturing to a new geography?

In my opinion, the most important barrier is the culture. The culture in each geography is unique and the sooner companies understand the local culture the better for them. The next important challenge is to understand the local laws, business environment. There could be challenges in effective communication besides language differences. The pace at which things move, including the pace of business negotiations, can vastly vary. Distance and time could be a challenge, too. Finding and hiring people who are trustworthy and competent can be a challenge. Establishing franchises, signing up agents and other business associates may take longer than what companies ‘back home’ is used to.

What sort of obstacles did you face while setting up your e-commerce venture and how did you overcome them?

The very first challenge was not being able to register a domain name, from India.

(Internic was the only share registry and for registering any domain one had to pay $100; the only way to pay was online; this was not possible from India. I had to take the help of my sister in the US, who paid this $100 and we registered chennaionline.com on Aug 15, 1997.)

One of the foremost challenges for a startup in a sunrise industry, which the online space was, way back in 1997, was getting the right people to come on board. We leaned on friends and other contacts to get the initial few hires.

The next challenge was funding –VC/Angel funding culture, back then, was literally nonexistent. Raising capital as equity was very difficult if not impossible. Debt funding or in Indian parlance, a bank loan was the only option.

Banks lend against tangible assets – land, building, plant & machinery – and also insist on security for the loan. Here was a business that had no tangible assets (except some PCs and servers and switches and modems – assets that depreciated faster than the mercury rising in Chennai summer) and a business model that was at best vague (actually from the bank perspective, it was all Latin and Greek).

The Bank Manager professed he understood nothing but said he was impressed with my sincerity of purpose and sanctioned the loan. (“As a breed, we are risk averse, but if we do not take some risk to support highly qualified technocrats, when we get an opportunity, then we do not deserve to be sitting here”, he said!)

Though the potential of the web/online was fairly well established globally, India was slow to adopt or embrace this ‘new economy’ and hence every ‘pitch’ had to be from ‘ground zero’. One of our (founding team) important roles was to evangelise Internet & e-commerce; evangelise we did with passion and enthusiasm. This not only got us noticed but became a competitive advantage, too.

There were many more challenges including getting the right office space, etc.

There were so many Foreign Exchange rules & regulations that receiving or sending money out of India was a huge task. We did $ transactions wrestling with a plethora of forms and multiple agencies.

Do you see similar obstacles for firms these days, despite a bridge that filled the knowledge gap?

Certainly not. Thanks to information/knowledge available in one click, for anyone, and the more business-friendly environment, many of the earlier day business challenges do not exist. However, each new firm (or old firm) has a unique challenge. It is much like a baby’s growth – from conception to infancy to childhood to adolescence to adulthood – at every stage in the life of a firm, there are unique challenges. A successful firm is one which understands this and also understands every challenge is a possible opportunity.

AR/VR Magic in Education

AR/VR’s immense potential in the field of Education is picking up with several colleges inculcating it in their activities. A snapshot of how technology has added value to what they do:

Iowa State University

How does a player train at a centre on par to the field experience without having to visit one? That is where VR came-in handy for the students and faculty at the Iowa State University.

Virtual Reality Applications Centre

The University’s football coaches collaborated with the Virtual Reality Applications Center to recreate a live match effect just like at Jack Trice stadium to help players train.

The virtual action takes place in the C6, an immersive VR environment in the VRAC. The players wear a VR headset and practice in a live stadium setup with virtual opponents. This enabled students to place themselves in the centre of action.

Savannah College of Arts and Design (SCAD)

We might just be few steps away from an actual teleporting facility. In the virtual world, one can place themselves on the other side of globe at the touch of a button.

VR Recruiting Toolkit

People at SCAD have done just that, sending out Google Cardboards to 30,000 of their recruits last year, enabling them to view their campuses across the globe. The excitement of the students to view their home for next few years and the parental concern of where their ward will be resolved at the touch of a button.

Utilizing the other fruits of VR, the university took to AR to provide enhanced course catalog with AR videos and animations that aided course study for several students.

Texas A&M University – Virtual Campus Tours

VR campus tours have become tech fad at most universities. Texas A&M University unveiled immersive 360-degree VR tours at SXSW in March, showing how VR aides as a recruitment tool. The VR tours also relieve the management and students of having to work a mutually agreed date and time of tour as it enables tours from anywhere, anytime the student wants. Furthermore, the virtual tours provide a much-detailed over view of all the aspects in a campus as opposed traditional walk-in basic over-view.

Embrace excellence in the field of Education, setup your own AR/VR facility at just one click.

Contact Us

Based on an article that was first published in Edtechmagazine.com

Strategic Technology Trend for 2018: Immersive Experience

A peek into some of the trends that Gartner has identified for 2018:

Almost two decades since the millennium, the evolution of intelligent technology has reached a stage where Augmented and Virtual Reality has become accessible reality.

AR/VR/MR boom

AI is set to feature on all digital platforms, apps or device this year, a trend that saw a boom last year.

AR/VR acts as the merger for multiple stand-alone technological things to an immersive technology, using the best of both worlds. Along with some conversational platforms, AR, VR, and MR will bring a fundamental shift to user experience, resulting in an immersive experience.

For example: From ‘Googling’ on specific information manually to just scanning an object and getting complete information on the object in front of us.

Appearition adds the ‘human’ element to AR/VR. ‘VR will change the way we shop, travel, learn and even create an informative platform in healthcare. AR/VR will create an immersive brand awareness changing the way businesses market,’ says Vivek Aiyer, Founder and CEO, Appearition.

Intelligent Apps and Analytics

AI will run unobtrusively in the background of many familiar application categories while giving rise to entirely new ones, predicts Gartner. For example, AR combined with analytics in a machine/app automates data preparation, insight to share with a broad business user and operational workers.

Digital Twin

These twins are digital ‘soft-copies’ of a real-world entity or system. A Gartner study says, with an estimated 21 billion connected sensors and endpoints by 2020, digital twins will exist for billions of things in the near future.

This aspect of technology will come in handy while studying or manufacturing heavy machinery, construction and to a great extent in healthcare. By overlaying digitally-created content into real-world environment, it enables everyone to view a replica of the project and sharing an almost-actual insight.

For example, Digital Twins can be created for an internal organ, so that one can view exactly where and what procedure they are expected to go through medically.

 

Watch this space for exciting AR/VR/MR/AI related content!

 

Reference: Gartner – Top Tech trends for 2018

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