A better way to fly?

Air New Zealand has partnered with Microsoft to begin beta testing HoloLens augmented reality headsets on flights to help their crews better serve their passengers.

Flight attendants using headsets on their faces might look really strange and scare little children, but the practical applications are pretty cool. Being able to know, for example, which passengers have dietary restrictions or are in a certain mood can enhance the customer experience.

Story on The Verge

Why It’s Hot

It’s hot because while this might not be a solution that gets mass adoption with every airline, it is nice to know that there is an airline out there that is trying to improve the travel experience (*cough* unlike United *cough*).

 

Gravity Can’t Bring Love Down

UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive—or BAMPFA—wanted to give their new exhibition titled “Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia” a little bump.

But Goodby Silverstein & Partners, their agency, does not know how to give “bumps”. Instead, they shot this out of a bloody cannon by developing a geolocation-based augmented-reality mobile app that lets people pepper the virtual space over the Bay Area with digital balloon hearts containing hippy-like messages such as, “Love Is in the Air” or “Free sex”. Okay, okay, to be transparent, I TRIED to upload this last message but the app wouldn’t let me. Apparently, you have to be in the Bay Area. Bummer.

 

Anyway, think of it as a Pokémon, except instead of catching the little trolls, you are making and popping virtual hearts that release lovey-dovey messages.

In addition to allowing you to spread the virtual love, the app also plays ’60s and ’70s songs like John Lennon’s “Imagine” and features a virtual tour of Bay Area locations significant to the hippie movement’s artistic and political history.

Why It’s Hot:

  • NAILS a very unique and cool use of AR
  • Provides a gamified AR experience ala Pokémon
  • App is fun and practical – i.e. virtual tours tied to the thematic of the exhibition
  • Subtly hints at a larger cultural sentiment of acceptance and hippy rebellion

AR glasses from Facebook

Earlier this week, Facebook’s Oculus Rift, the clunky VR headset, shipped to the market. But Facebook has hopes for the tech and form factor to be reduced to the size of a normal pair of glasses.

During a recent developer conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg demonstrated a concept pair of smart glasses that he envisions being able to view both virtual reality AND augmented reality. It would be similar to what Google Glass has tried to establish.

To distinguish, AR provides you overlays of data and information while you view the real world through the glasses vs VR, which is a virtual rendering of worlds.

There may be a race to market heating up as Microsoft just shipped its HoloLens headset to developers and Snapchat is apparently working on its own augmented reality glasses.

facebook-augmented-reality-virtual-reality-glasses

Why It’s Hot

AR and VR show true integration of the real world with information and data that can enrich our experiences. Particularly with augmented reality, overlaying information into your field of vision that is contextually relevant to what you are experiencing, can augment and enrich the experience.

Car manuals made simple through AR

Perhaps the only thing more confusing than the buttons, displays and lights on a new car is its manual — that 100+ page booklet of details, photos, and instructions that are enough to make you dizzy and vow never to read it, unless you need to know what that strange glow on your rearview mirror is.

Here comes Hyundai to the rescue. In the first of its kind, the car manufacturer is introducing virtual manuals that rely on augmented reality to explain your car. AR is first being introduced on the 2015 Hyundai Sonata, but will soon be compatible for other models.

Using a smartphone or tablet, car owners will be able to recognize “more than 45 major features of the Sonata and contains 82 how-to videos, six 3D overlay images that appear once users scan different areas of their vehicle, and more than 50 informational guides,” according to the post in psfk.com. Users position their device over the part they want to learn about and AR will provide information about warning lights, Bluetooth phone pairing, brakes, fuse box, etc.

Owner’s Manuals Should Come In Augmented Reality Form—According to Hyundai

hyundai-guide-interior.jpg

Why it’s hot

As cars become more complicated, augmented reality can take the mystery out of key features of your car and educate the owner on conditions, DIY repairs and an overall understanding of how their car works.  Eventually, AR technology will be used in other electronics manuals, such as household appliances and electrical devices, helping to make wordy, poorly written manuals a thing of the past.

The Void: Virtual Reality Theme Park

A small team of engineers and designers in Utah have taken VR to a new level with an experience that is a seamless blend of virtual reality and real, physical environments.

voidvoid headset

The Void is still in alpha stage, but is the furthest advanced application of VR as a truly immersive and interactive environment.

Business Insider Review

Video Tour

void landscape

Alien landscapes with hot breezes and falling rain, or an Aztec Temple where you feel the heat of your torch. This is the Star Trek holodeck come to life, a true mapping of virtual world over physical world and its being developed by a small group of enthusiasts– setting the bar for companies like Oculus to beat.

Why It’s Hot

The most advanced of the true VR experiences and its moving rapidly toward deployment worldwide. But its also setting the bar for the category in timing and sophistication.

Glasses Let the Legally Blind See Again

SmartSpecs-AugmentedGlassesBlindVA-ST is a startup from the University of Oxford that has developed a wearable that allow the legally blind to see. Technically a head-worn computer, the SmartSpecs use cameras and an on-board computer to generate easy-to-view frames.

The SmartSpecs device is simple to put on, sits comfortably on the eyes and is very portable. Despite its size, the device has three camera sensors, a processor and a display.

For people with difficulty in seeing colors and contrast, the glasses can convert scenes into simple, high-contrast image fields. This can help legally-blind people see object locations in relevance to other items in the scene.

The depth camera, the one which can record the distance of an object from the wearer, also functions in the dark. With the use of the Smart Specs, a legally blind person may easily navigate independently both during day and night.

 

The SmartSpecs run on Android and microprojectors display the processed images onto the transparent lenses. The wearable also has zoom and pause functions for viewing scenes in greater detail. Customizable to user needs, the SmartSpecs can display various amounts of detail.

Source: PSFK

Why It’s Hot:

At SXSW, I focused on wearables, and there was a lot of discussion as to the breakthrough medical uses they may have. This is a great example of that type of application — and makes you wonder what advances may be in store in the near future

Blippar app visual overhaul aims to identify everything around you

blippar

There is now a new and exciting way to search and interact with the world around us. The Blippar app, which was first created as an image recognition platform, has been reinvented. The re-launched app focuses on non-brand visual search, allowing users to delve more deeply into an array of both products and real world objects. Blippar uses the camera on your smartphone to look at an object. This image activates Blippar’s digital search and serves up relevant information directly from the local area. Blippar’s CEO and founder Ambarish Mitra seeks to expand the app’s focus into an all-encompassing and universal visual search engine to complement text- and link-based engines like Google and Bing.

Why It’s Hot

The service is being launched in waves and for now it is only available for use on English language album covers, movie posters, fiction books, and DVD covers. Eventually, any object in the physical world will be fully searchable. Our ability to find out more about the world around us will be limitless – all from your smartphone screen. As the app is developed, it will incorporate artificial intelligence and location-based technology to personalize and refine results for the user. It will be faster than the traditional web search, so instead of scrolling through pages of search results, you can receive key information in an instant.

Blippar brings out the curiosity in all of us. For example “when you blip a puppy” said Mitra, “you know what puppy it is, its history and genealogy, how to look after it, if there’s a vet nearby, the dog sitters and dog walkers — all the connecting points of information. It’s almost like that puppy becomes its own portal.”

Blippar is available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

Augmented Mirror Lets You Test Drive Makeup

modiface-mirror

Modiface’s Mirror combines augmented reality and facial recognition so shoppers can see what they’ll look like with different shades of makeup before making a purchase decision.

The Mirror combines a 3D live-video feed with a Photoshop-style sampler of more than 2,000 existing products and that maps the shades and textures to a movable, rotatable image of the user’s face.

Mirror’s core format is a sales kiosk, a robust and stand-alone version that automatically grabs a browser’s image and attracts their attention with recommended shades and brands. Once interested, the shopper can experiment with various products until the shopper becomes a buyer.

The concept is also available as a less robust, but considerably less expensive, app that uses a smart phone’s camera to capture the image. The apps are available for iPhones, Android and most tablets.

Mirror also includes an anti-aging mirror that shows the long-term benefits of using various moisturizing and age-reversing products. The featurette shows these effects as a slow progression, demonstrating the gradual effects.

modiface

ModiFace began in 1999 with initial research into facial analysis at Stanford University. The work continued through 2006 when ModiFace, Inc was born. Modiface technology has gone on to hold the leading patent portfolio on skin and facial analysis, powering over 150 web and mobile apps with a total of over 50 million downloads as of March 2015.

Modiface-2

Source: PSFK

Why It’s Hot

I’ve been paying close attention to retail trends that (1) enable creative sampling in a digital world and (2) connect the digital & physical in useful ways that can encourage purchase. This technology is a great example of both of these trends, and could open the door for even more impactful usage — think pre-surgical previews, impacts of UV exposure and more.

Use AR To Make Your Next Ski Trip More Fun

The technology of Google Glass combined with the fun of the ski slopes is a recipe for success. RideOn, new Israeli crowdfunding campaign, claims to be the first augmented reality ski goggles.

The ski goggles enable wearers to see projected ski paths via AR on their goggles, as if the paths are being projected on the snow 15 feet in front of them. Wearers can also play games and challenges with friends, and make phone calls and video messages.

rideon4

The technology uses sensors, a video camera, and an Internet connection (all built into the goggles) to make the experience happen. But the goggles also still include the anti-scratch and anti-fog features of most ski goggles. In addition, there will be a free mobile app which wearers can use to track their progress, interact with other nearby users and friends, and instantly upload videos of their skiing.

Read more about the AR ski goggles on No Camels.

Why It’s Hot | Augmented reality is increasingly in popularity, but many brands are struggling with ways to use it in a sensible way, beyond being a novelty. This usage enhances a sport that many already enjoy, by increasing its competitiveness (via the built-in games), safety (via the projected ski paths), and shareability (via the video creation and upload feature). It will be interesting to see if, in the future, AR is more accepted in targeted, niche environments, as opposed to broad everyday uses.

 

Insanely Detailed Viral Campaign for Jurassic World

jurassicworld

First launched softly on Twitter last August, the viral campaign for Universal’s Jurassic World movie went into high gear after the Super Bowl. Two incredibly immersive websites launched– one for the fictional park which will have you believing you could book a trip there tomorrow (take a tour through the resort rooms, check the restaurant menu, look at activities, live webcams of the park, even buy merchandise), and the other for the equally fictional company that supposedly owns and built the park, Masrani Global.

http://www.jurassicworld.com/

http://www.masraniglobal.com/

Neither site acknowledges they are fictional. Rich in video, imagery and detail; updates are now being released that have fans poring through the work for clues about the film.

Why It’s Hot
Viral marketing is often a “leap of faith” as we cant predict or forecast success, it is completely in the hands of the user to determine whether the content is shareable. It is impressive how much detail and depth went into these websites, and is continuously being released without a shred of paid promotion. That’s the definition of faith in your idea, your instincts and the resulting content is so rich and compelling i am waiting to see when this gets real traction.

USPS Generates Holiday Buzz with New AR Experience

USPS’ new mobile app features an AR experience that enables users to enhance the real world via their smartphones. By using the app to scan any of the 156,000 blue collection boxes throughout the country, users receive a “magical mailbox” holiday message.

The app is meant to compel more business from direct-mail marketers by showcasing innovations they can use in their own direct mail pieces via the USPS.

Read more on The Washington Post.

Why It’s Hot | What sets augmented reality apart from other mobile ad units is its ability to compel users to engage in a more meaningful way. It can be used to provide information about a user’s surroundings, or provide video extensions to print ads. As the world is becoming more mobile, innovation that integrates direct mail with the digital world is helping to bridge the gap between traditional channels and new audiences.

The Future of Retail Shaped Equally by Technology and Experience

ShopBox_015-pop_10679interactive displays, augmented reality, instantaneous commerce, social influence, even immediacy in shipping are reshaping our retail experience rapidly.

http://www.inc.com/rhett-power/drones-augmented-reality-no-lines-a-glimpse-into-the-future-of-retail.html

Why It’s Hot

even with the same or similar product available in different places, we will gravitate toward the superior retail experience– as brands are now shaped by experience as much as ideas, the ubiquity brought by technology continues to push the importance of brands in a new direction.

Shopping Experience Re-Imagined

This is a pair of articles that together drive home the need to understand people as we build multi-channel, multi-device, multi-format experiences.

A model demonstrates a virtual fitting room

First, a new study that confirms mobile commerce has not upset or displaced brick-and-mortar shopping– in fact, it drives in-store sales by extending the experience. The way we use smartphones is so fundamentally different from desktop or tablet; we use smartphones for couponing, reviews, location-finding but not for actual commerce. This harkens back to a “scholarly disagreement” I had with a Harvard Economics professor 12 years ago, who predicted that ecommerce would be frictionless and drive product sales on price alone, that brands would be irrelevant.

Smartphones changed the way people shop, but they won’t kill local commerce (study)

Second, trends in shopping that bring augmented reality and social engagement in-store and at-home.

The science of shopping: digital innovations shaping the future of retail

Together, a total re-imagining of the shopping experience.

Virtual Reality Journalism

use of force

Use of Force is a VR simulation, that places the viewer as a witness to a real-life incident where border guards beat a non-resisting man to death. It uses actual cell-phone audio, 3D imaging of the location and witness accounts as the basis. It was created by Nonny de la Pena, a former Newsweek journalist to change the way we perceive events being broadcast to us. It mirrors the way television changed our perceptions of the Vietnam War.

While most applications now talked about are gaming or virtual meetings (social and/or business), this kind of VR experience has the potential to radically change our perceptions– good or bad. Studies are showing our perceptions of VR experiences are fundamentally different than other immersive even 3D experiences.

http://mashable.com/2014/06/26/virtual-reality-memory/

Why It’s Hot

As VR simulations become more immersive than ever, these emotional moments will feel more and more like the human perception of memories, like nothing we’ve ever experienced before.

British Airways Draws Attention Away From their Billboards and Into the Sky

British Airways ‘Magic’ Billboards has recently won some awards, and it’s clear why.It’s  informative, intriguing, and well executed! According to Ad Age, these digital billboards are located throughout London, and serve to highlight the company’s various destinations by encouraging passers to look up into the sky, to spot the airplane passing over.

Watch it here!

Why it’s hot | The idea behind the campaign is quite simple, but because of the technological complexity and accuracy, it’s pretty brilliant. It involves mounting an antennae on the roof of each board, which picks up data from British Airways aircraft transponders. This information is then sent to a server which detects the aircrafts origin or destination. A trigger zone was also included, providing accuracy of the aircraft passing, based on cloud altitude which showed whether the plane could actually be seen.

For a campaign which serves the purpose of drawing potential customers to their website, the agency behind the idea (Ogilvy) did a pretty good job of making it enjoyable. The only call to action in the advertisement includes the hashtag #LookUp, as well as the html, ‘ba.com/lookup’ which drives the user to a website listing of the companies cheapest flights. Well done!

 

 

 

Why Lowe’s is Working with a Team of Science-Fiction Writers

Lowe’s is looking to the future of home improvement, and it’s using physical lab spaces, along with a team of science-fiction writers, to help it envision what that might look like.

“You take all of your market research, all of your trend data and hire professional science-fiction writers. And they write real stories with conflict and resolution and characters. We turned it into a comic book and created possible stories or visions of the future.” (Kyle Neil, Executive Director)

One of those visions involved giving homeowners the ability to envision remodeling projects with augmented reality.

The first project to come out the Labs and science fiction-prototyping is the “Holoroom.” The 20-foot- by-20-foot room allows customers to simulate renovation projects. Customers can create realistic rooms on an iPad — stocked with anything Lowe’s sells, right down to Valspar paint colors — and then enter the Holoroom to experience a 3D version of the room. An app, paired with a printout of the room, allows customers to view and adjust their 3D creation at home, as well as share it with friends.

The Holoroom will be installed later this year in two Toronto-area stores and will focus on bathroom remodeling. The plan is to add new categories and rooms over the next 12-to-18 months. There is no firm plan for rollout in the U.S.

Where a Picture is Worth a Thousand Songs

They always say a picture is worth a thousand words… well, how about a thousand songs? That’s where the fun new iOS app, Moodsnap, comes in!

Moodsnap is the world’s first image-based music streaming app, where deciding what to hear is as easy as knowing how you feel. Simply launch the app, click on a photograph that matches your mood, and presto!

That’s right, in Moodsnap, music stations are crowd-sourced collections of songs that users have collectively associated with emotive photographs. It is the community’s judgement of what songs feel right for each photograph, that fuels the listening experience for everyone.

Moodsnap is uniquely powered by Spotify and is free for Spotify Premium subscribers on iOS. Check out the app here!

 

 

moodsnap

 

Why It’s Hot

Taste-algorithms for music are nothing new, but usually are based off of components like artists, songs, or even activities. Photography has become a huge aspect of social media and the way the mass is expressing themselves. Music has always been a way to express and show emotion. Music and photography share that they are a way people identify and find common interests, so it makes sense they should be integrated. There may be potential for brands to use this as well. Such as having consumers upload pictures that create a brand playlist…. interesting.

 

 

SemaConnect electric car charging stations get their own Google Glass app

SemaConnect, which makes electric vehicle charging stations, has launched an application on Google Glass to make it easier for drivers to navigate to the closest charging stations at a nearby Walgreens or Dunkin’ Donuts.

The app leverages augmented reality to make navigation faster and easier, with users able to locate the closest charging stations within a 20-mile radius. Users can also enable turn-by-turn navigation to station locations and initiate a charging session.

When a driver gets to the station, then the user says “Control my car” and the station begins charging the vehicle. If there is a fee applicable, it is automatically billed to the user’s credit card.

8e460896da4263aeec2deecb6ebe0090_f116 semaconnect-big-opt

 

Why It’s Hot

While the Google Glass is still in its early days, and people are just getting started in getting and using this device and figuring out its capabilities, electric vehicle owners are most likely early adopters anyways.

The big advantage to using the Google Glass is that the user need not take her hands off the wheel or her eyes off the road. And the app is also driven largely by voice commands.

McDonald’s Turns Fries’ Packaging into Virtual Reality Soccer Field

The World Cup is almost upon us, and official sponsor McDonald’s is launching a huge global effort that features new fry boxes that allow you to play and an augmented-reality app called McDonald’s Gol!

Beginning May 26, the chain will — for the first time — change its medium and large fry boxes globally for the promotion, offering 12 different World-Cup-themed designs featuring work from artists commissioned from around the world. The fry boxes will also serve as the entry point for an augmented-reality game on the app.

The app essentially turns the packaging into a virtual reality soccer field, where players try to flick a ball into the fry box, which serves as a goal. The game also uses other real-world objects in view as a way to bounce the ball off them to avoid increasingly difficult obstacles. Points are scored by bouncing off or moving the ball around the obstacles. Points are tallied by country, and players can share their scores via social media.

App:

First promo commercial:

Why it’s HOT:

Seeing one of the biggest and most recognizable brands embrace the World Cup by updating their packaging to include an interactive augmented reality game is VERY HOT. Especially knowing that this is the first time in McDonald’s history that they’ve changed their french fries packaging makes it even more special. As a consumer, I’m going to go to McDonald’s and try out this game on my own smartphone! As far as McDonald’s is concerned, this is exactly what they wanted.

MIT Invents A Shapeshifting Display You Can Reach Through And Touch

At the MIT Media Lab, the Tangible Media Group believes the future of computing is tactile. Unveiled today, the inFORM is MIT’s new scrying pool for imagining the interfaces of tomorrow. Almost like a table of living clay, the inFORM is a surface that three-dimensionally changes shape, allowing users to not only interact with digital content in meatspace, but even hold hands with a person hundreds of miles away.

Put it in the simplest terms, the inFORM is a self-aware computer monitor that doesn’t just display light, but shape as well. Remotely, two people Skyping could physically interact by playing catch, for example, or manipulating an object together, or even slapping high five from across the planetat’s only the beginning

TouchingvirtuallyMIT Touching Virtually

Why It’s Hot

The virtual world and the real world are bound to connect, in the near term. What this means for brands and marketers–including companies like eHarmony and Facebook–is the ability to now enable sensory relationships between their prospects and products–to “feel” the shape of a new phone, for instance, or to enable people living apart to touch each other.

 

.

 

Google Glass targeted as symbol by anti-tech crowd

According to a CNN report, Google Class is being targeted as a symbol of the tech elite–something that has even lead to physical altercations in the Bay Area. The rally against Google Glass appears to be part of a larger movement by an anti-tech crowd that is concerned about what the tech sector in Silicon Valley is doing to the city, particularly pushing people out as costs skyrocket.

Google Glass

 

 

Click here to play video

 

 

Why It’s Hot

If Google Glass falls flat or creates animosity in San Francisco, tech-haven of the US if not the World, then how will it fair in other areas?! Granted, the issue doesn’t appear to be so much against Google or Glass itself, but the concerns over lack of privacy (given someone can record you without your permission and not have to hold a camera phone to do it) and over how the tech sector is driving up costs of living in San Fran. That last part is nothing new though–remember the Bubble?

 

AR Apps Provide Utility for Travelers

While AR or augmented reality apps seem like a thing of the future, there are quite a few that are already helping travelers acclimate to a new city.

According to this CNtraveler.com article, “The most common idea with these, for the uninitiated, is that you point your smartphone camera at something (an object, a street, an attraction) and instantly, pop-up cards of information about that thing will appear onscreen—particularly useful for travelers.”

To me, the neatest example is Google Googles. If you find yourself in a new city and want to learn more about a tourist site, label or business, simply point your camera, shoot and wait for the search results.

cn_image_0.size.couple-google-maps

Why It’s Hot

Now more than ever information is right at our fingertips, especially in situations where one is traveling and the most in need of information in a quick and easy way. Google Googles was just one example of AR technology at work, other apps included:Yelp Monocle, Metro AR pro, and Wikitude.

Google Glass as a powerful first-person/Journey Strategist’s Tool?

This video from Google was used to create an incredibly powerful first-person account regarding the horrors of domestic violence, in this case against women (and it should be watched just for that reason alone).  It depicts a day-in-the-life record of her experience, and while used as an ad, it spurs the idea of using Glass for capture of first-person journeys.

]Googleglass

Glass In Action for Domestic Abuse

Why It’s Hot

Used in real life, this is could open new doors to see just what really happens in the most emotional/private of situations, as people really live them. That has implications for brands to get closer than ever before to lives and experiences, including more private areas like medical issues and their barriers, how people interact with their families, their personal regimens, shopping behavior, product usage behavior, etc. The idea is to outfit people with Google Glass and use it to capture these Journeys as never before and give us a much more effective means to understand and portray Journeys for our clients.

 

 

Skully Helmet–AR for Motorcycle Enthusiasts

The Skully Helmet uses augmented reality tech to enable the wearer to see everything that is happening around them–including behind them!  The AR-1 model is being dubbed as the world’s first fully-integrated smart heads-up display helmet for the consumer market.  The helmet links “advanced optics to an intelligent network of cameras, sensors, and microprocessors.”

Why It’s Hot

Skully Helmets was awarded the Accelerator Award in the Wearable Technology category at last week’s SXSW. This award is considered the “marquee” award of the SXSW Interactive Festival’s Startup Village. Over 500 companies submitted to present at SXSW Accelerator. Skully Helmets was selected out of 48 finalists in six different categories including Enterprise and Big Data Technologies, Entertainment and Content Technologies, Health Technologies, Innovative World Technologies, Social Technologies, and Wearable Technologies. While wearable tech is an exploding area, the Skully Helmet is the first that combines helmet safety and AR. It includes a rear-view camera, Bluetooth connectivity, GPS navigation and voice control. The AR-1 helmet is currently in beta testing.

 

Google Glass Can Recognize What We See, Show Relevant Superimposed Ads

New technology released by Blippar at the Mobile World Congress claims to be the “first image recognition technology” for Google Glass. If Google allows it, the technology could employ augmented reality to recognize what users see, and show superimposed animations that are relevant to the identified object.

Read more @ The Wall Street Journal

Why It’s Hot

With targeting capabilities growing more direct and personal by the day, enabling advertisers to serve up ads based on what we are looking at is the ultimate way to ensure relevancy. (Minority Report, anyone?) If put into practice, this technology could revolutionize the way companies speak to consumers — and scarily enough, make it nearly impossible to turn off brand messaging. (Maybe Google Glass isn’t such a great idea, after all.)