Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mobile World Congress 2014 -Summary & Conclusions


BARCELONA- Yes, it has been almost a month now since the end of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona so this post rationalizes a great deal on my thoughts about the event. As an exhibitor at the show this year, it takes that long to digest all the information and business leads!

As this is a short post, I will provide bit-sized thoughts only:

BEST DEVICE: No doubt, the device that impressed me the most was the LG Flex mobile phone with an ergonomic curved screen that maintains a great resolution and is an indication of things to come. We will eventually all want our tech to blend in unobtrusively with our environment and life, and being able to curve displays so as to fit our "round" world makes a great deal of sense to me. I hope we see more of this type of device and screen tech soon...

KEY TREND: This is not so much news, but more of a confirmation. It is here. "Connected everywhere" is no longer just a marketing slogan, but the presence of a whole range of companies that are not actually "mobile" is proof that connectivity is coming to a "thing" near you very soon (and this thing may include your iRoomba vacuum cleaner). This year, car manufacturers and connected cars on display have mushroomed at the show. This makes sense- the more expensive the "thing", the more justified is the investment in connectivity. Hacker attacks on Smart Fridges aside, this trend will continue and the MWC is likely to horizontally integrate more with a wide range of industries and products that will have nothing to do with the traditional mobile phone.

PRODUCT LAUNCHES: I was disappointed by Samsung's launch of the Galaxy S5 for two key reasons. One -we are at a Mobile show so please do not restrict access to your new device exclusively for the press. 74,000 other visitors wanted to get their grubby mitts on the device and couldn't. Annoying at best. Second- I'm not against natural evolutions of devices and agree that it is not necessary to re-invent the wheel at every product launch. However, do not make such a big song-and-dance over a product launch when in reality there are only gradual enhancements in the new product. This is just a way to raise expectations and then disappoint. And copying Apple is not an excuse to repeat this error.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Mobile World Congress 2014-WIPJam set to be leading developer conference again!


BARCELONA -as the big event approaches (and a frantic scram for free tickets reaches its peak), WIP has announced that the annual WIPJam developer conference will now be a 4-day long event taking place in the old Fira site of Plaza Espanya.

In fact, developers attending WIP get a whole building this year with, in the words of WIP, "More developers. More tshirts. More code. More swag! ".

Tuesday morning will feature Genevieve Bell from Intel, billed as one of the most creative persons in tech as well as "Intel's secret weapon".

Tuesday afternoon will continue with the heavy guns blazing, as Tommy Palm from King takes the stage. Tommy is known for his successful game dynamics creation and ability to draw millions of users to game productions (and not just Candy Crush).

Wednesday afternoon is Mark Murphy's turn, with a raft of wisdom around Android development.

But, be sure that there will be plenty more at WipJam. In fact, review the program and pick wisely to make sure you attend the sessions you car most about and make sure to network! If you are at MWC, you find it far easier to hob nob with the decision makers from mobile at WipJam than anywhere else in the show. You can register for WipJam here.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Mobile World Congress 2014 Agenda: MWC14 Expectations and Preview

BARCELONA- A record-breaking 72,000 visitors are expected at the Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona according to the GSMA. So many visitors, in fact, that the show will be spread out over both the original Fira expo area AND the new Fira site (also known as Fira2) in the Hospitalet neighbourhood.

This won’t be the only change for this year under the theme of “Creating What’s Next”-in fact, the GSMA has announced a series of new events, themes and activities. One of them is mPowered Industries programme designed to gauge the interest in mobile of different industries.

Several key figures (including John Matonis and Rich Riley) will be attending the show and giving talks on current trending topics, from bitcoins, to mobile media, mHealth and mobile advertising.

Even though the usual raft of product announcements will still dominate the news and are set to capture the attention of the public, the 2014 promises to broaden the appeal of the show way beyond hardware. The play by the GSMA is to bring into play key industries and key content owners that are expected to drive demand for mobility services in the next decade.


More coverage on the MWC14 in subsequent blog posts and on my Twitter stream (handle:ricferr_mobile).

Thursday, October 31, 2013

AdTech London -Summary & thoughts for traditional media



LONDON- Time waits for no man, and AdTech London has come and gone though I realise I never got a chance to summarise my experience there.

One of my objectives was to see how deeply augmented reality capabilities are being integrated into advertising experiences, especially those that cross over different media i.e. print to web.

It was clear to me that the effectiveness of augmented reality has been proven -a large newspaper group quoted some interesting stats on the effectiveness of recent ad campaigns that linked to digital content, with a clear route to monetization of those ads.

This made me think however that many publishers are still to fully grasp the opportunity to monetise with AR. Layar published a great article recently with some useful pointers:

1. Use AR to upsell print ads -that's right, AR can be used to turn those now standard ads into premium ads. Im fact, in Canada Glacier Media (a local publisher) plans to make an exra $7.5m thanks to their up-selling efforts for Layar-enhanced ads.

2. Sponsored Editorial Content. Special editorial features can be linked to video interviews and sponsored for anything from $1,000 to upwards of $10,000

3. Print to e-commerce. Mobile commerce is booming, with some web portals taking over 25% of sales via their mobile channel. What better way to find the stuff you want than by scanning your favourite magazines? Adding items in this way to a wishlist or shopping cart will soon be the most convenient way to discover and shop.

There is still a lot of way to go before traditional media grasps the augmented reality bull by the horns but the paradigm of visual search is already here. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Not Sci-Fi anymore...why Augmented Reality is more real than you think


MUNICH- Guest post from David Marimon, Catchoom CEO

There are two things I want you remember after you read this blog:
·       AR is here and it has practical, everyday uses with sound technology
·       The market is accepting using it faster than you think
I want to show you why these things are true through an example, Audi.
Not long ago, we were hearing many skeptical voices talking about Augmented Reality (AR). Let me share a couple of anecdotes.
I remember in particular an attendee telling a panel formed by Layar, Metaio, Qualcomm executives and myself how nerdy we would look like with AR glasses. This was at Mobile World Congress in 2011.
Last month, I was speaking with the Head of Future Technologies at Pearson, a global publishing firm. She told me that AR is ready for the market and not something for the future, but they just need to figure out the best business model for everyone to make real money.
I could not agree more.
So what is she and others referring to when they say AR is ready? Let’s take a couple of recent examples.
The Audi eKurzinfo app (demoed by Metaio for the first time at insideAR 2012) lets drivers have intuitive access to pages of the driver’s manual simply by pointing at the space in the car they’re interested in.
Is this new? Not exactly, one of the first implementations of AR was actually in car maintenance with mechanics – using big goggles connected to a laptop to make access to information so they could perform maintenance on the luxury cars. Does that surprise you to know that some of AR’s first uses weren’t even for games, to view an ad or other entertainment based things we have come to associate it with – it was utilitarian, functional and gave people access to information to do their jobs.
The changes are more subtle and at the same time more bold. Mobile has made a huge difference, but uses have too. Audi has been bold enough to deliver this application not only to their certified garages for skilled maintenance teams, but now into the hands of their prized end-users. And, this is the real change  - AR is not for techies anymore but for any user armed with a smart phone which is about 1 billion peoplearound the world today.
And, what about wearables?
Museums in Barcelona like the MACBA or MNAC have been using AR recently in their expos to showcase art or special exhibitions. Users equipped with an iPad and the Layar app can access alternative views or get detailed explanations about art pieces in the collection. Visitors of these museums aren’t necessarily art experts, so a little help from AR, makes the whole experience much more interactive and memorable.
In the last AR Meetup in Barcelona on October 3, I had the opportunity to talk to the different agencies who prepared those AR experiences. When asked what people thought about holding their arms with an iPad, the response was the same for all of them: we need glasses. Wow!
Just looking at the amount of wearables at AWE last June, this comes as no surprise, companies in this area have been around for a while but Google Glass has opened the door for a discussion around end consumers using them for AR, and not being a nerdy thing, which today is quite cool.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

AdTech London: Expectations for Augmented Reality apps


LONDON -I am psyched about attending AdTech next week in London –not only is the AdTech event franchise now a fixture around the globe when it comes to digital marketing, but it promises to offer a great blend of brands, publishers and agencies.

What do I expect from AdTech?

I expect to see some great examples of mobile marketing apps from big names and learn about success stories but hopefully also app flops, as these can reveal even more about what to do and not to do.

I also expect to hear about the challenges that ad agencies, app developers and brands have in providing innovative features like AR to end-users. Do they feel that users “get AR”? Is it the case that brands see AR as embedded in their mobile app experience or as a side feature of mobile?

Finally, I’m keen to find out what new channels publishers are looking to distribute their digital content through and what success they are having with AR in doing so.

At the forefront of the AR e-volution I've had a lot to do with the latest trends in AR and how this is expected to look in the future (it is not just about the wearables…)

I am hoping to help agencies at AdTech de-mystify AR –even though I am often surprised to hear people ask what the acronym “AR” stands for, most people are not familiar with the term. This is changing quickly, but separating the wheat from the chaff is still necessary to be able to reach out to a mass audience of mobile users.

AR can be easy for brands to implement. I’ll be sharing success stories from Ikea AR app (the no.1 most downloaded branded app in 2012) as well as other case studies . Each different but with common needs when it comes to image recognition and AR.

Any new technology needs to entice users by painting a picture of how they can be used. AR is no exception and I see many great use cases on a regular basis that I will be  sharing: from Museum Apps, Wine Apps, AR Maps through to Mobile Commerce apps (shoot and  add to wish list or shopping cart).

Last but not least, I’ll be demoing the speed and simplicity of image recognition and explaining why I believe it is the key gateway technology to a great AR experience within mobile apps.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Creating great AR Mobile App Campaigns -Part 2 (the Ikea 2014 AR app)



I briefly discuss the IKEA 2013 catalogue app in my last post -well, guess what? The 2014 IKEA app is out.


Consumers can place the catalogue on the floor of a room in their home, point at the catalogue with their smartphone or tablet and see how a selected sofa, area rug or other item would look in that particular spot in the room if purchased.  A great try-before-you-buy solution which makes every user part smart shopper, part interior decorator.

Integrating AR into an app can be fun and engaging, with features like 3D model creation and animation.  At its core, AR is about visualizing the environment through a combination of real environment and digital content anchored to reality. 

This is exactly the experience offered by IKEA’s AR app.  However, aside from being cool to use (and being a preventative tool for any buyer’s remorse), what is it about the app that makes it so special?  Well, it’s not just the AR aspect of the app, it’s what IKEA has done around it.

AR is not magic.  It can only do so much.  It alone cannot get the word out about an app, cannot make an app come flying on its own into your home, cannot make users download an app, cannot make an app successful.  Although IKEA is not the first furniture company to use AR in an app, it is the first one to have successfully done so.  IKEA took existing, familiar technology to develop a new experience for consumers that didn’t need to be explained, dissected or examined—just promoted—and therein lies the difference.  IKEA threw some consumer marketing muscle behind the app through videos and outreach to major online consumer media outlets, thereby generating that coveted buzzword:  buzz.

Companies need to think of the bigger picture when developing an app, incorporating not only the tech aspects but the promotional side of things too. Many brands spend large chunks of time and money on developing the app itself, only to fail to plan how it will be launched and marketed to consumers.  If a company’s app only has 100 downloads, that’s not a stellar return on investment but rather a hefty sum thrown out the window, and it’s probably a safe bet that the next app-building budget will be slashed as a result. 
 Neither existing brand awareness nor a brand’s coolness factor will guarantee app downloads without the use of marketing punch, and AR apps are no exception.

So this is the beauty of the IKEA app—and the lesson to take away here.  For a successful app, create a useful app—one with a purpose—but also create a promotional and marketing budget in parallel that will support it, draw in users and encourage app downloads.  Also, ask how such an app will help users and if AR is really the best way to go about doing it.  AR is cool, but it cannot do the heavy lifting alone.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How can agencies produce great Augmented Reality campaigns?


If you are an agency (creative, advertising, mobile or digital) and you are new to augmented reality (AR) it is not easy to decide how to convert a creative idea into a fully fledged AR app.

Where do you start? What AR components do you need? What are the ingredients for a great AR app, be it a game, a marketing app or a functional app? What would it cost and how long will it take? How do you measure the Return on Investment (ROI) for the app?

Here is are 4 pointers that you may find helpful:

1. AR DOES NOT NEED TO BE COMPLICATED

Yes, it's true. Mention AR and instinctively people conjure images of 3D objects flying out of a mobile screen with complex graphic animation. True, you could do this but...it is not always essential. Linking physical objects like a packet of cereals to a TV advert can be done easily and economically simply by using image recognition or tracking (tracking will allow you to view the video on top of the box instead of opening a new screen on your device).

2. WHAT DO YOU NEED TO CREATE A GREAT AR APP?

Here is the tricky part -there are several components you could require for an AR app depending on the complexity of what you're looking to do. Take the IKEA AR shop catalogue for 2013 for example. This catalogue has 43 individual images dotted throughout the printed edition that link to digital content. Some link to videos (if you don't have these, you will need to produce them), some link to web pages (virtual stores where you can purchase items) and others still link to 3D animated computer graphics.

The production of the AR app required:

-a Tracking SDK
-an Image Recognition SDK
-creative computer graphics content
-mobile app development
-an AR creator platform to link "virtual buttons" to actual actions within the mobile app

3. WHAT SHOULD THE APP DO?

This links to the first point..."keep it simple" is my advice. It is clear some use cases work better than others and that this varies according to who you are targeting. AR for retail and print works great. Augmenting a magazine, newspaper or catalogue offers clear, tangible benefits to the reader -you see new content that is helpful or entertaining. AR for retail apps makes sense since indoors, GPS doesn't work, so using physical objects or shop signs as pointers for the app to perform an action is a clever workaround. Scan the poster displayed in the shop window and see special offers, for example.

4. WHAT SHOULD AN AR APP COST AND TAKE TO ROLLOUT?

It depends but....simple AR apps can be developed for around $20-25,000 as a very general rule of thumb. Complex ones can easily cost $100,000+ (hence the keep it simple rule!). A marketing app will offer an intangible return in terms of brand awareness and brand loyalty. Other AR apps generate revenue and more than pay for themselves in terms of ROI: a museum app that acts as a guide (audio and video) and lets you scan the popular exhibits to get AR content when you want it, is often offered at a premium in app stores and can have a short payback period. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Augmented Reality 2.0 - From AR 1.0 (Hype) to AR 2.0 (Mainstream)

BARCELONA -I recently presented an overview of Augmented Reality to an interested customer describing some examples of note-worthy AR campaigns and how cloud-based image recognition helps solve many requirements of AR campaigns.

In fact, I believe we are now in AR 2.0, whereby AR is coming into the mainstream (thanks also to Google Glass) underpinned by powerful smartphones and 4G networks. Brands are coming on board, since consumers increasingly demand (and expect!) the physical products of their favourite brands to have a digital life. 

This AR experience can vary from a simple video or photo overlay to more complicated (3D) animations, though the latter have more of a gimmicky effect. Making AR work for brands means keeping it simple and focusing on the quality of the experience. This is where image recognition becomes key, being the gateway technology for AR and opening the path to enhance the user´s view of the world. 

It is also time to throw away notions of QR codes on print and objects being scanned by a user (nothing wrong however with users with QR codes on their phone being scanned themselves, e.g. for a airplane boarding pass). Applying QR codes for  marketing use cases never made much sense and was used for lack of a better option. Consumers everywhere (except Asia perhaps) have given a resounding no to this technology.

You can see below a selection of slides from my presentation: 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Augmented World Expo 2013 : AWE Summary and Video


SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Augmented World Expo has come and gone, and if there ever was a doubt about the resurgence of interest in AR in general, then the doubling in size of the key global showcase expo for AR is good evidence of this trend.

Big brands are sitting up to take notice of the AR scene -the combination of powerful devices and 4G connections mean that technological former limitations are gone. Augmented Reality works great on mobile, and it loads fast.

Consumers are also getting excited- Google Glass is all about taking AR into the mainstream..no wonder CNET is saying that "AR is the next big thing in tech" and that estimates are that AR will surpass1 billion users by 2020 (Tomi Ahonen, AWE13).

We are now firmly in AR 2.0...welcome.

AR works better with the power of the cloud -there are several reasons for this that I introduced at AWE together with Catchoom CTO Tomasz Adamek.

Check out the video of the talk here: 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Augmented World Expo (AWE) 2013 Santa Clara -Agenda overview and discounted tickets


Computing is changing inside out. The world is now the platform. ARE is now AWE. Welcome to the Augmented World!
Augmented World Expo (AWE), is the world’s largest gathering of designers, engineers and business leaders dedicated to solving real world problems in the Augmented World.
The way we experience the world will never be the same. We no longer interact with computers. We interact with the world. A set of emerging interrelated technologies such as augmented reality, gesture interaction, eyewear, wearables, smart things, cloud computing, big data, and 3D printing are completely changing the way we interact with people, places and things. These technologies create a digital layer that empowers humans to experience the world in a more advanced, engaging, and productive way.
Augmented World Expo will showcase the best in augmented experiences covering all aspects of life: health, education, emergency response, art, media and entertainment, retail, manufacturing, brand engagement, travel, automotive, and urban design. It will be the largest ever exposition to bring together technologies that will change our lives and the world.
In 2012, the third annual ARE event, over 600 buyers and builders of AR in entertainment, media, education, healthcare, government, tourism, automotive, sports and other vertical markets, united in the 2 day must-attend event in Silicon Valley.
Augmented Reality.ORG, the producer of AWE is proud to announce the maturing of an edgy conference about augmented reality into the world’s first expo about the augmented world.  If you loved ARE you are going to find Augmented World Expo the most important event of 2013.

AWE 2013 invites today’s technology leaders to learn, network, and share their expertise in technologies that change the way we interact with the world.  Presentations should cover a range of emerging technologies such as augmented reality, gesture interaction, eyewear, wearables, smart things, cloud computing, big data, and 3D printing. Presenters can choose from a set of topics and industries that address the latest trends, strategies and business growth opportunities of the augmented world.
AWE 2013 will be held at the Santa Clara Convention Center, California, on June 4-5, 2013 and is expected to draw 1,000 attendees. In addition to the presentation tracks, AWE 2013 will include mind-blowing keynotes by industry leaders on the main stage including my own talk (together with Catchoom CTO Tomasz Adamek) on the Mobile-Cloud Continuum a.k.a. how to get the most out of the cloud from your mobile device.
With the proven track record and the tremendous momentum in the Augmented Reality industry and interrelated technologies, AWE 2013 will set a new record and expected to draw 1000 attendees that seek to leverage augmented reality into a productive, sustainable and entertaining new medium. AWE 2013 will spotlight inspiring keynotes by industry luminaries, and feature more than a 100 speakers from leading Augmented World companies in more than 30 hours. Organized into business, technology and production tracks, the conference program is designed to address topics such as:
  • current augmented world market scope and what’s expected in the next 5 years
  • latest augmented world innovations, engines and tools
  • showcases and postmortems of landmark augmented world projects
  • how to leverage AW to advance your brand, attract and keep your customers
  • how to build successful campaigns and products that will delight users.
The exhibition floor will unite all the leading providers of Augmented World services and products, and offer a fantastic opportunity to witness demonstrations, speak with the architects of these experiences and network all participants in this exciting industry. Last year’s successful activities such as the ARt Gala, AR Start up launch pad, and The Auggies (best AR demo awards) will return to delight attendees. The new Augmented Future plenary session will feature ground breaking ideas that will change the augmented world.
You can get a discounted ticket here by using the following discount code AWE3CATCHOOM for a saving of $200 USD before May 17!