Get your superpowers…
The most waited Augmented World Expo (AWE) took place between June 1st and 2nd, 2016. The two day event had a packed floor of attendees, booths full of creative product demos, and speakers who are pioneers in AR excited to share their experience and challenges while exploring the emerging technology sector of Augmented Reality.
It was a well-planned expo that circled around the growing world of AR, with the sectors that are the current adopters and a few that can become the potential integrates. The expo had close to 4,000 attendees
Few insights into the expo are given below:
The opening note from Ori-Inbar (founder of AugmentedReality.org and partner at Super Ventures), where he welcomed all the attendees and shared a demo to show the superpowers… a great way to grab the attention of the audience by presenting AR with entertainment! Ori later gave a brief overview of the expo, leading to the major announcements in the industry by EPSON, APX, ScopeAR, X2 Biosystems..
The sessions started by 9:30 and the demo floor (booths) opened at 10:00a.m. You could see attendees holding on to their schedule rushing between sessions and demo floors. The demo floor was packed with visitors, eagerly waiting to experience the new and exciting products. Some booths had long lines and some were short but it was quite evident that the expo was going to rock the world of the attendees with the new products on display.
While everyone was planning their schedule between session and demos, I picked a few companies to interview and went through a few demos!
Scope AR : They announced their new AR platform-worklink. The company is the creator of industry-first AR tools for video collaboration, procedural documentation and step-by-step instruction. They added significant updates to their Remote AR, but the live stream was a new line in itself. Scott the co-founder of Scope AR was excited to share the features and benefits of the new platform as it make field work easy to monitor and execute. Some of the questions David Nedohin (Founder, President) addressed were about the challenges, the idea behind the new platform launch and where they see their future product line growing.
All-in-all ScopeAR believes in building scalable products that should be hardware agnostic to bring a smooth work flow operations. Blending their platform with the tablet and supporting the current headsets is a smart way for Scope AR to expand. Currently their platform supports ODG, Epson and HoloLens headsets. Martin Brothers Construction (an LA based company) has been one of their customers.
David Nedohin’s showing the demo of worklink, his interview is given below:
ODG: A well-known and established brand in AR. ODG bagged the “Best in Show for AR” award. Their booth was packed with visitors’ waiting in line to experience the new Project Horizon- their new imaging system. ODG’s Project Horizon bridges the gap between VR and AR by providing the next generation of AR optics, it enables a movie theater like see-through display that is truly mobile. With partial see-through the user is aware of his surroundings and movements.
I got an opportunity to interview Pete Jameson the COO at ODG, and was very generous in answering my questions. Some of the topics we covered were the product line, strategic partnership, the future of ODG glasses and the next steps for the company. Pete was excited to share the details. He started by addressing three horizontal sections that ODG stands on: holographic light field rendering technology in live networking streaming bringing VR, AR and MR together in one product; AR telepresence- expert helping the field worker by overseeing the work through the glasses. The heads-up display helps the worker stay focused without distraction, this feature also helps while driving as the cameras at the bottom of the vehicle come to eye level to help the driver see the road behind, thus removing the fear of blind spot; and third being 3D visualization –expected to be the next traction AR where the new glasses with audio and visual will be vital in supporting all activities across sectors. ODG had announced their partnership with otoy and also currently their glasses supports ScopeAR platform. When asked, what will be the future of ODG, Pete responded by saying, “they will integrate deep with mobile headwind computing headsets which will look no different that the regular sunglasses.” Pete continued sharing the company vision by emphasizing on becoming a platform company that gives the best combination of display immersive and cinematic experience. I also got an opportunity to experience their smart glasses and the experience was quite different from what I had seen at CES. ODG was preparing to ship their R-7 glasses soon. With the products so sleek and flexible across platforms, ODG is sure to make a mark in the world of AR.
Pete Jameson explaining the features and benefits of ODG smart glasses.
The video interview with Pete is embedded below:
Daqri: Another well-known company in AR that got its biggest fame at CES-2016, when they announced a partnership with Intel. Daqri uses the smart helmet for data visualization and supports remote monitoring for the field worker. Communications Manager – Micheal Miller described the functionality, utility and support Daqri helmets provide in the enterprise sector. Micheal expressed that the idea mission of building the helmet is to help reduce the mistakes (on the site), thus leading to improved productivity. Daqri is targeting the industrial automotive, shipping and aerospace and oil & gas sectors, currently.
When asked why the company chose AR and not VR, Micheal answered” AR has more functionality especially in the real world application when it comes to industrial space”. He went on to promote the vision of Daqri “Augmented Reality everywhere”. Daqri bought a holographic company, which will be another component of augmented effect, probably in the near future. When asked about the current focus for the company, Micheal responded by saying Industrial sector is the first priority however in October 2016, Daqri will be announcing its wearable devices. Looks like the company will be going deeper into wearables too.
Daqri’s smart helmet on display
Moving from B2B, I went on to meet the team at ONVI- on life. A B2C company that focuses on dental health.
ONVI: Dr. Craig and his team have built the first premier precision product called “Prophix” that will empower the consumer to develop better oral. Their philosophy is to bring dental care part of our daily life. Dr. Craig is a dentist and has seen many patients who cannot locate their pain or disease until their visit. He believes the use of heavy microscopes and scanners to look deep into the mouth, can be compressed in a tooth brush to help promote personal hygiene, thus reducing the chances of cure with prevention. His belief that the advanced mobile technology is a perfect tool that can support the output of their product with their current pricing of $299, Prophix, will be avoiding the additional cost and accessory of the expensive AR supported hardware. The brush currently comes with four attachments for deep cleansing and can be preordered from the website directly. ONVI’s FDA approval is in process, they have started their alpha stage testing to support the evidence of the product features. We could not go deep into the future roadmap, but the company believes (based on the current testing and customer feedback) Prophix will revolutionize the dental care for the future ONVI will start the product delivery in the first quarter of 2017. Thinking of healthcare, dental care can benefit the current technology advances.
The demos and interviews did give some insight into the future, and the panel sessions on both days had more informative content. After the interviews it was time to attend the panels.
AREA: The speakers focused on the importance of AR and how it is revolutionizing the world. The presenters were from: AREA, Six15Technologies, VanGogj Imaging, Atheer and Augmeted. The speakers focused on promoting AR as a tool and not the result. They also addressed the concern that current products are built on what we feel is the need while it should what the customer needs. While the core focus was on building better experience for enterprise the speakers also touched on why the industrial /enterprise has been the first pick in AR. The general acceptance is that enterprise is a wide market and it is more flexible and forgiving compared to Consumer market (where VR is dominating). Since AR need deeper understanding in relating to the sector, enterprise gives that support in building the roadmap to support the need. The belief that AR will capture the consumer market is just a few years away (4 or 5 years)
AR in Fashion:
It was interesting to see the limited presence of AR in consumer market, while the fashion industry has comfortably incorporated the features of AR into their products.
Robotic Fashion & Intuitive Interfaces:
FashionTech designer -Anouk Wipprecht, presented her thoughts on how AR can change the fashion world. She built an outfit where the shoulder has spider legs with built in sensors open, which pop out as a defense weapon of a stranger approaches. It was interesting to see fashion give a new spin to AR.
While AR was the attention grabber promoting the super powers during the expo, VR made its own appearance with some panel sessions and a few demo series. Here is the glimpse from a session (on day 2) …
VR Investor Panel:
This was an interesting session, the investors were pioneers in AR and AR and each panelist emphasized on building something different and good that will enhance human life in the future. The panelists addressed the majority was focused only on a few sectors (gaming, entertainment), they would be interested in seeing new products in the non-attention sectors (like healthcare, education etc) . The panelists also emphasized in creating meaningful content that can create new waves in the industry. According to the panel, companies that have found different use cases for the same headset have a better chances of survival than the ones that have limited flexibility. The belief that mobile VR with high quality content will bring a new wave thus making the mobile market stronger and dynamic still holds true was one of the key takeaways from the session. The lack of attention in filling the gap for education was a flag raised and supported by these panelists. They feel the gap should be addressed with quality content to improve the experience of education
VR Panelists expressing their interest and the direction they would like to see with VR future products
The first day ended with an award ceremony. The awards had eight categories and the winners were:
- Best Headset or Smart Glasses sponsored by IEEE: Epson Moverio BT-300 by Epson
- Best Hardware sponsored by Intel: Ricoh Theta S by Ricoh
- Best App sponsored by ODG:BeoHome Design App by ViewAR
- Best Campaign sponsored by Bosch & Re’flekt: Dutch Lady Flying Farm by AR&Co
- Best Enterprise Solution sponsored by PTC Vuforia: Atheer AiR Platform Atheer
- Best Tool: Vuforia by PTC
- Best Game or Toy sponsored by PTC Vuforia: Air Hogs Connect Mission Drone by Spin Master Studios
- Best Art or Film sponsored by the CFC: Refugees by Scopic
These awards did raise the confidence and the spirits of the winners as well as the audience in believing that AR will enhance the future experiences as the gaps get identified in each sector
The fact that Augmented Reality is building its niche in the industrial sector and working hard to promote better work flow support with the use of technology was quite evident at the expo. However the future of AR does not limit only to this sector, there are significant signs of AR entering education and Healthcare too. Although the information in these sectors is quite limited the fact that AR is just B2B is not true anymore. The growing challenges in B2C for AR are high, yet it has not stopped the entrepreneurs from exploring and expanding.
Just like VR, AR is also evolving and is far from being mature, the world is waiting for the next big sector that will be influenced by AR. While the evolution of AR has captured the attention of many investors from across the globe, we still need to wait and watch the dominating winners and the statement “AR, we there yet?” is far from being a reality.