By @SimonCocking interesting interview with Ilya Korguzalov, CEO of Piligrim XXI and a founder of Arcona – a project creating a layer of AR reality on the Earth’s surface.
Describe the company – let’s hear your elevator pitch.
Arcona is a platform merging real and virtual worlds, where developers, 3D artists, entrepreneurs and augmented reality (AR) enthusiasts can communicate and collaborate on projects. Its main task is to generate a layer of augmented reality, called Digital Land, anywhere in the world, supporting an enormous number of new, varied AR applications in gaming, education and tourism.
Our project will make AR technology more cost efficient, truly popular and available to everyone. Arcona is primarily designed for the remote positioning and management of 3D content. Literally without leaving home, you will be able to place your AR object in New York, Paris or Tokyo.
How are you different?
We have already gained significant experience, even before Google, Apple, Facebook and other companies began working actively on AR projects. We’ve created AR parks in six countries and have developed our unique remote positioning algorithms that we’ll make available for all Arcona users free of charge.
The platform combines the functionality of a distributed geographic information system (GIS), computer vision technology, 3D simulation and artificial intelligence (AI). In addition, Arcona is the first global AR ecosystem built on blockchain technology that can quickly unite a large number of people from all over the world and allow them to create tons of incredible content.
The Arcon Token, the internal currency of the ecosystem, will allow participants to buy and rent pieces of Digital Land, create their own projects and share the results of their creative work. Transparent blockchain technology and smart contracts will also guarantee the rights of Digital Land owners, provide copyright protection for developers and artists and will make all transactions within the system more reliable and transparent.
Why will you do well?
The AR industry is now on the verge of explosive growth. According to the research company MarketsandMarkets, the global AR and VR market is expected to reach USD 151.30 billion by 2022. The launch of Arcona will stimulate the industry to develop even more rapidly.
Our platform offers extremely simple and convenient tools for creating AR projects that will allow almost anybody to implement their ideas without special knowledge or programming skills. Remote positioning will remove all restrictions that today hamper the entire industry. This should attract more enthusiasts to the industry and contribute to creating a huge number of varied AR projects in different parts of the world.
When was the company launched? What have been your biggest successes to date?
Arcona was launched by Piligrim XXI, the first startup to specialize in AR tourism. Our company was established in 2013 in St. Petersburg, Russia. We have already launched eight full-scale historical AR parks in six countries. In fact, these are full-fledged open-air interactive museums.
Our users not only see what the buildings looked like many years ago, but also can immerse themselves in history. For example, they can witness the eruption of Vesuvius in Pompeii, the storming of the Bastille in Paris, observe ancient Byzantine rites in Bulgaria or become a participant in the Great Northern War in Estonia.
In the beginning, to create our AR parks we had to travel to different countries to “manually” place the content and adjust the positioning of virtual objects. This required considerable effort and resources, which is why we decided to design a universal algorithm that would allow us to place the objects remotely. We’ve been working on the technology for two years and now we are ready to introduce a platform for managing AR from anywhere.
Tell us about your team.
This is one of the strongest aspects of our project. Together we have been working on different projects for almost 10 years, and our team is professional and talented. Our developers are very competent, and they have unique mindsets and deep experience working with AR technology, computer vision and visualization.
What are your long-term plans?
A prototype of the platform and a testing program for remote positioning tools will be launched in mid-2018. We plan to present the fully functional platform by the first quarter of 2019. By 2018 a layer of Digital Land with a total area of 1500 km² will cover the most attractive areas of the world’s 10 largest cities.
These would be the Gothic quarter of Barcelona, the City in London, the historic center of Mexico City, Soho in New York, the 1st District of Paris, the Forbidden City in Beijing, the area surrounding the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, the ancient center of Rome, the Sultanahmet neighborhood in Istanbul and the Asakusa district in Tokyo. In 2020 Arcona’s global network of augmented reality will cover up to 40,000 km² of the Earth’s surface.
Who are you trying to attract?
Our platform would help anybody interested in AR technology – entrepreneurs, developers, 3D artists, and users who want to observe how the world is changing and access interesting and useful digital content.
We offer AR project creators simple and cost-effective tools for the implementation of their ideas and the infrastructure for their commercialization. Developers will receive a platform for testing their solutions and bringing them to the market, while artists will be offered a place where they can share their creative experiments with the general public and get feedback.
Our platform will also be useful for manufacturers of AR headsets and mobile devices. They will have an excellent opportunity to test and promote new tech solutions to interested and motivated users. We are already negotiating with manufacturers who are interested in preinstalling Piligrim XXI applications.
What are your favorite tech gadgets?
I am interested in technology that could change the world around us and make it look like a futuristic dream, such as the brain-computer interface Neuralink being developed by Elon Musk. All market leaders – Google, Apple, Microsoft – are working on creating standalone AR headsets that project 3D images directly onto the retina of the eye. They might completely replace smartphones that we use now. Very soon AR glasses will be available everywhere.
What tips would you give to others looking to build their businesses?
When we started only a narrow sliver of specialists, enthusiasts and innovators knew about augmented reality. We had to explain to our users how to use the technology. We sold our first AR applications to tourists in a package with beautiful branded helmets. But we believed that there was a future for this technology and continued to work on its popularization.
Today the largest global IT corporations – Google, Facebook, Apple, Samsung – have entered the AR market. It is becoming mainstream and one of the most promising areas for development. So my main advice is to trust your instincts, keep working on the projects you really love and believe in their success.