Interview by @SimonCocking

 

How did you find the AR marketing event? What were you hoping to get out of it? Did it out turn out that way?

We thought the AR Marketing Conference was fantastic. It featured a great mixture of international speakers showcasing compelling examples of how augmented reality is disrupting industries. The live demo areas outside the main hall really helped attendees see what our augmented futures will be like. With this technology, it’s important that people can experience it because trying to just talk about it does it a disservice, it really is a hands-on approach! We wanted to showcase our augmented reality technology and get feedback from people and we weren’t disappointed. Our stand was busy all day and our integration of augmented reality content generated into a live virtual world really amazed attendees.

How was 2014, wins? Do anything differently?

2014 was pretty key in the overall scheme of things. Up to this point virtual reality and Oculus Rift has been gathering all the headlines. Google’s unsuccessful launch of Glass wearables significantly impacted on the augmented reality industry. The backlash has caused problems for companies trying to develop compelling AR experiences because the public thought that Google Glass was ‘AR’ and didn’t like it. Google are set to launch Glass V2 soon but it’s still a monocle wearable albeit with higher end frames but is still the wrong product for the marketplace. What’s really interesting is that Google invested $500 million into augmented reality start-up Magic Leap and I think this shows the real future of wearable AR and Google’s product roadmap.

Where do you hope to be by year end / moving into future?

We are working on our marketing plans for the US market and will be embarking on a large consumer push in Q4 this year. Our office in Boston will be opening soon and we are busy interviewing staff and getting everything ready for our launch. We will also be releasing some new technology and hopefully getting some strategic agreements announced so watch this space!

Has the technology moved as fast as you’d expected / liked it to?

No the technology never moves as fast as we want it to! We are always trying to create new magical things but sometimes the marketplace is slower to adapt. It’s always difficult to predict and if we knew the answer we should probably open our own VC fund but we are very happy that the massive growth in augmented reality will explode next year. Microsoft releasing HoloLens and embedding augmented reality into Windows 10 will really educate the wider marketplace and in turn make it much easier for the rest of us.

Your predictions for what we can expect to see become common place in your sector the soonest?

I think we will see the mobile phone becoming the first AR device of choice for people and once they start seeing benefit driven solutions this will increase adoption significantly. Once enhanced augmented reality experiences become normal there will be no turning back. Being able to offer data centric solutions that are visual will really give people super powers. The augmented reality marketplace will be 2 or 3 times the size of virtual reality within the next 5 years and we can expect to see a raft of new wearables. It will be very interesting to see what Apple have planned for IOS 9 and the integration of AR into maps but with the recent acquisition of German AR pioneers Metaio it’s clear to see that they’ve huge plans for this technology.

How soon till we will have everything and more that was presented to Tom Cruise in the famous Minority Report scene?

Everything that was showcased in Minority Report could be done today. John Underkoffler designed those UI’s nearly 14 years ago and it’s amazing how good a job he did. Those spatial interfaces will become normal over the next 3 years IMO – if we look at what Intel are doing with RealSense or Movidus are doing with their Myriad platform we can see that human to machine interfaces and AI are the very near future. A number of other companies are trying to make AR enabled contact lenses but we are still some way away from that.

Could AR create a future where more humans prefer the company of AR devices to other humans? Should we be concerned by this or not?

Within the next 20 years it will be possible for a person to jack into a completely virtual world using brain implants and choose to stay there forever. Some people will opt into functioning only in a digital environment and leave the real world behind. The Matrix will happen and it does raise questions on what we perceive to be reality. If all reality is essentially electrical impulses encoded and translated by the human brain, is a virtual world any less real than what’s around us now?

The skynet / singularity question, will machines achieve consciousness anytime soon, as this could have potentially negative consequences, are we contributing to our own downfall?

Machines are great at crunching complex data but really suck at making decisions. That’s what sets us apart. The sheer amount of data that we generate means we have to make machines faster and more intelligent. For example there are over 10 billion moving parts already in The Internet of Things and this will grow to over 100 trillion over the next ten years. Using advanced AI combined with augmented reality is just one of the areas we will see huge progress soon. A hyper-connected world will open huge opportunities for technology to exploit but we have to tread carefully. I still think that we are many years away from machines having consciousness but Isaac Asimov’s ‘Three Laws of Robotics’ created in 1942 should be the foundations for future AI.

 

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