How Pokemon Go is Influencing Tech

No one saw Pokemon Go coming, and now no one can avoid it.

The small app game has become a juggernaut that has influenced everything from culture to business operations. It has made a huge impact on the marketing world, showing brands just what’s possible even with a simple app.

The game’s unique use of augmented reality has also shown what is possible with technology. Here are a few ways that the game is influencing tech (including the potential it shows):

Entertainment

Over the years, technology has improved significantly so that we no longer have black-and-white movies or simple line drawing animation.

Now, we have graphics that seem so real that you expect the dinosaur to jump right out of the screen during the chase scene. The picture is so crisp that you can almost feel the same breeze that is rustling across the leaves and the tiny hairs on the caterpillars and flies.

Augmented reality doesn’t necessarily improve the quality of the picture, but it makes for a more immersive experience that brings that scene into your world. Pokemon Go not only includes virtual items on the physical world, such as different types of Pokemon, but it also creates virtual spaces from physical ones, such as PokeStops and PokeGyms.

The game has shown that there is vast potential for other mobile games and apps. Not only can augmented reality help to create a more engaging game experience, but it can also help businesses better connect with customers through their games.

For example, augmented reality could easily be used in a game that helps visitors at Disney theme parks find beloved characters on the park map. They could appear just like the Pokemon characters do on the game. The park could use the game to reward visitors with special perks, like an extra fast pass to cut the line on a popular ride or a discount at the gift shop.

There are numerous ways that Disney could use such a game to drive purchases. It could make characters appear at restaurants or shops during slow hours when it needs extra sales, and it could pair those appearances with special discounts or other promotions at the locations. It could make rare characters appear only at specific parks, which could generate multiple-park ticket sales.

There are endless possibilities for businesses of all types to use augmented reality games in similar ways to drive sales and user engagement.

The travel industry, movie studios, chambers of commerce, museums and more can also take advantage of these opportunities to drive sales.

Healthcare

The technology used in Pokemon Go can be used for much more than entertaining or marketing. It could save a life.

Apps that use augmented reality can be used for a variety of healthcare applications. For example, they could be used to help people find the location of a defibrillator in an emergency. Similarly, it could be used to find the location of a fire alarm, fire extinguisher, or other emergency device. Instead of just showing these items on a map, it could include a bright graphic over the actual location through the lens of your camera.

Other potential uses include helping seniors remember to take their medication or to find the location of their pill bottle. The app could guide them to the location through their phone camera, and users could keep track of what pills they have taken for the day by capturing a pill just like they would a Pokemon.

Apps could turn healthcare treatment into a kind of game. Kids and teenagers who are resisting taking their medication could get points for taking their pill or shot at a certain time or win special rewards for taking it a certain number of days in a row. They could win special items for taking additional measures, such as drinking enough water or doing enough exercise.

The augmented reality portion of the game could turn the house into a game map. Maybe they have to go to different areas to do exercises or get enough sleep, and so on.

There are numerous potential applications for both personal healthcare monitoring and professional healthcare management. People can use it for their own treatment, and nurses and doctors can use it to encourage patients to get the right care.

Pokemon Go has not only shown the potential for augmented reality technology but also for marketing through apps and games. The technology shows that marketing should go beyond in-app advertisements and should instead focus on how apps and games can be merged with the real world.

If you are feeling especially motivated by the game’s success, you might even consider developing your own augmented reality game or app for your business or your niche. You could make money on the app itself or through the sales it helps generate for your business.

Marketing Lessons from Pokemon Go

If you haven’t heard of Pokemon Go by now, you are either living under a rock or you’ve been in a coma for the last month. The free, augmented-reality game is taking social media by storm, with people posting their activity on the game or articles about the game. Pokemon Go is a game that you download for your smart phone, and it sends you on a real-time hunt for pokemon in your area. It tells you when a pokemon is nearby, and you have to try to catch it before someone else does. It also tells you where pokemon are located at businesses and landmarks throughout your city, and you can go to those places to try to be the first to catch them.

What may seem like a simple game has taken off like wildfire. The game has become popular among all age groups, and it has spawned think pieces about everything from mental health to physical fitness. Here are a couple of things that marketers can learn from the success of Pokemon Go and some of the trends the game has inspired:

Online Traffic Can Drive Real-World Traffic

Many businesses invest in online marketing to help them get more brand awareness or to capture more sales online. But a lot of them treat their online and offline marketing strategies as separate entities with separate goals. This is a mistake. The Pokemon game has shown that online traffic — including app traffic and mobile traffic — can drive real-world traffic.

To start, the game is getting people out of their homes and into the world, including many businesses. Doing so is imperative to play the game. Players can wait for pokemon to show up in their own homes, but they will be waiting a really long time if they want to catch rare pokemon or enjoy other features of the game.

The real-world traffic is more than just foot traffic. Many business owners report that their sales have gone up significantly since the game took off. Some players come in and grab a bite to eat or something to drink while they are hunting down pokemon. They’re already in the business for the game, and they make a purchase out of convenience.

Other businesses have taken advantage of the promotion they are getting as a location in the game to offer special discounts for players. Some have even gone so far as to say that players can only come inside if they are paying customers. You don’t have to come up with a viral app game in order to get these kinds of results. But you should be thinking creatively about how your online efforts can translate into offline success, as well. What kind of incentives can you offer people looking at your website or your mobile app to visit your business in person?

Partnerships are Important

Some pokemon appear randomly at locations near players. Others appear at businesses that have entered into a partnership with the game developers. Some of these partnerships have resulted in businesses being featured for important gaming events, and some have led to in-app purchases. The businesses that have had the foresight to partner with the developers have profited handsomely. Many who did not partner are now working to figure out how they can.

It is important that you look for ways to create partnerships in your niche, as well. Your partnership doesn’t have to be a huge endeavor. Simply being featured in the right format and with the right partnership can result in big exposure and big profits.

User Engagement is Central

Pokemon Go wouldn’t be the success it is without the user engagement it has inspired. Everyone is playing and talking about the game because it has engaged them in ways that others have not. The game is a combination of nostalgia, adventure seeking, physical activity, social play and collecting.

Whatever you sell and whatever your marketing strategy, you will not be successful if you cannot find ways to engage your own audience. Again, you don’t have to create a viral game to get results. But you do need to think about how you can get your audience as excited about what you are offering. You might do that with a special app, an offline event, social networking, or even special content.

CodeFuel helps to improve user engagement on your site by placing the content that your audience wants right where they want to see it. We use advanced user metrics to understand what your audience needs and then match that information against the content you offer to ensure that we are creating the right partnership.

There’s no telling how long the latest Pokemon craze will last, but the marketing lessons that this new game has taught can last you a long time. Try applying some of these concepts to your own marketing strategy and see how quickly you can get results.

LiquidVR: The Present and Future of VR and AR SDKs

LiquidVR is an SDK designed to make it easier to for developers to create virtual reality software.

LiquidVR and the SDK

AMD, the chip manufacturer, is also the company behind LiquidVR.

According to their website, LiquidVR is intended to make VR comfortable and realistic by maintaining “what’s know as ‘presence’ – a state of immersive awareness where situations, objects, or characters within the virtual world seem ‘real.’”

The stumbling block to maintaining this presence, they say, is overcoming motion-to-photon latency. If it takes more than 10 milliseconds for the hardware and software to catch up with a user’s movements, then the illusion of immersion will be destroyed.

As you might imagine, VR requires immense processing power, which makes AMD an ideal candidate to fuel this platform.

They presented their platform at GDC 2015 in San Francisco. According to one of the AMD reps, you don’t need to use the Oculus SDK at all. You can simply “plug an Oculus Rift into a computer and start 3D rendering directly into the headset.”

Most of the time PCs will recognize Oculus as another monitor. But the LiquidVR SDK is designed to deliver a seamless plug-and-play VR experience: simply plug in an Oculus Rift and the computer recognizes it as a VR headset.

Ultimately, says Raja Koduri, the company’s graphics CTO, AMD wants to drive virtual reality to photo realism. This, of course, will mean “full sensory integration,” scalable, CPUs, GPUs, and more. 

According to Koduri, successful VR immersion means adherence to two essential principles: don’t break presence and “if your CPU and GPU can’t keep up, you throw up.”

AMD has many more plans in the works. They hinted not only at VR and gaming, but pointed out that VR will also have applications in education, medicine, simulations and training, and big data visualization.

There are also rumors of collaboration with HTC and Valve on the Vive headset, but details are still forthcoming. And most of these developments are still a ways away.

How LiquidVR Tackles Latency

Virtual reality has been around for 20 years, but it has yet to hit the mainstream. And this is why there are still plenty of skeptics who are hesitant to invest resources into the industry.

As mentioned, one big obstacle to this widespread adoption is latency: if it doesn’t feel real, then you won’t be immersed. And if the lag is too great, you might “throw up,” as Koduri put it.

Magic Leap’s CEO, Rony Abovitz, criticized VR technology for this very reason. He was blunt about his disdain for VR: “The worst thing going on right now is stereoscopic 3-D systems.” He went on to criticize technology such as Microsoft’s HoloLens.

In the past, Oculus has openly acknowledged these motion-sickness problems.

And AMD’s LiquidVR system is one potential solution to the problem.

It presents a variety of features aimed at removing “motion-to-photon” latency:

●  Latest Data Latch – This is designed for efficient GPU head-tracking. The two GPUs, which are present in each goggle, retrieve, or latch, the “latest data at the moment it needs to use that data.”

●  Asynchronous Shaders – By simultaneously using Asynchronous Compute Engines in Graphics Core Next architecture, LiquidVR can process VR images in parallel with rendering. This minimizes latency and reduces juddering.

●  Affinity Multi-GPU – This assigns one GPU to each goggle. It minimizes CPU overhead and reduces latency more than previous techniques such as alternate frame rendering – which could cause latency between each eye.

●  Direct-to-Display – With an AMD Radeon graphics card, the headset will gain direct application control, no matter who built the headset.

While new API advances have also been announced, such as DirectX 12 and OpenGL, AMD will currently be enabled only through DirectX11.

Upcoming Developments in the VR World

The AR and VR industries are both moving quite quickly, as can be seen from the surge in tech investments:

●  Microsoft debuted the Microsoft HoloLens, which impressed almost everyone…except the CEO of Magic Leap.

●  Facebook paid $2 billion to acquire Oculus last year. And it’s no secret that they are building virtual reality social media apps.

●  Apple has been sitting on VR headset patents for years. And at the end of last year, rumors swirled about potential VR developments when Apple posted job listings for VR programmers.

●  Google Glass has already been around for a while. And their enormous investment in the AR company Magic Leap makes it clear they will be a big player in the AR/VR space.

●  There are plenty of cheap smartphone-based VR headsets hitting the market, which will only increase adoption speed. Google Cardboard is one popular example, and a 3D-printable design has even been released.

●  And as AMD jumps on board the VR bandwagon with LiquidVR, it’s becoming obvious that the whole landscape is heating up.

 

While VR technology has a ways to go before current hardware can catch up, LiquidVR is clearly making major strides. As many new companies enter the marketplace, the VR industry will only continue to grow.

At this rate, 2015 may become known as the Year of VR. 

Is Apple Missing the Augmented Reality Boat?

Despite early reactions to Google Glass, augmented reality (AR) is on its way. All major technology companies, from Samsung to Microsoft, have invested hundreds of millions in what is sure to be the future of technology.

But Business Insider recently pointed out that all is quiet on the Apple front.

Is Apple missing the boat?

Or are they just keeping their plans hidden from plain sight?

And the Future Is…Augmented

While Google Glass inspired everything from awe to fear and revulsion, Microsoft’s recent computer headset received nothing but praise. The HoloLens will run on Windows Holographic, a new platform specifically designed for an AR interface.

Like Mat Honan, a Wired reporter who reviewed Google Glass, Business Insider’s Matt Rosoff predicts that AR is the future, whether we like it or not.

So what’s the difference between AR and VR?

Virtual reality is completely immersive. The Oculus Rift headset is an example of VR technology. The wearer is completely immersed in a 360-degree world that has nothing to do with the world around. Gamers and certain industries would be ideal targets for VR hardware.

Augmented reality exists alongside the outside world. These types of interfaces will employ, for the most part, interactive holograms. Much like the character played by Tom Cruise in the movie Minority Report, we’ll be able to wear a simple heads-up display and interact with a holographic interface that will be superimposed on the world around.

As mentioned, all the major tech companies are investing in AR and VR:

Microsoft is releasing the HoloLens. The aforementioned HoloLens was unveiled by surprise at a recent Microsoft event. When Matt Rosoff tried out the headset, he was able to play Minecraft on a coffee table, draw diagrams that appeared to the party on the other end of the line, and even visit Mars.

Google is releasing Google Glass into the world. Rumors of Google Glass’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Google’s heads-up display has been removed from Google’s research division, but development and marketing will continue.

Google also released Google Cardboard, a basic-yet-innovative way to turn an Android phone into a VR headset. With basic materials – namely cardboard – and a few other essential items, anyone can slip their phone inside a cardboard headset and turn it into a VR display.

Facebook bought Oculus. The aforementioned VR company was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion. And turning this VR technology into augmented reality technology is certainly not a stretch of the imagination.

Samsung wants to put a keyboard on your fingers. Last year, Samsung patented an AR keyboard that allows people to use their thumbs to type on their fingers. This fueled rumors that Samsung was developing a “Galaxy Glass” rival to Google Glass.

And late last year, Samsung unveiled the Gear VR headset. This Oculus-powered setup uses a Galaxy Note 4 to provide the content for the headset. Like Google Cardboard and other experiments with VR technology, you simply open up the headset, insert your phone, and strap yourself in.

Magic Leap, a startup that raised $542 million, uses proprietary hardware and software to develop “3D light sculptures.” The CEO of Legendary Pictures tried this technology out and told Fast Company, “This changes everything.”

So with all this investment in AR and VR, where does Apple stand?

Apple has been acquiring relevant VR and AR patents for nearly ten years. As early as 2006, they patented a heads-up display design. And in 2012, they patented a system that allows users to interact directly with holograms.

While some feel that Apple is missing the AR boat, other information suggests that Apple isn’t as far behind as it seems. As reported by 9to5Mac.com, Apple posted several job listings for app engineers who could build VR experiences. These job listings were quickly taken down, but not before screenshots were taken.

The job listings required experience with everything from “state-of-the-art physics-based world simulation” to experience with AR programming and game engine experience. Following a year behind Apple’s patent for a “goggle system for providing a personal media viewing experience,” it is quite obvious that Apple is actively pursuing the AR track.

At least one third-party company is already using the iPhone to develop a VR interface. The approach that Pinć takes is unique and innovative: the headset actually doubles as an iPhone case. Simply open up the case and strap the iPhone to your face…

Pinć uses the iPhone’s camera and hand-held controllers to track gestures. The company will focus primarily on casual app interfaces and retail, as opposed to gaming.

 

Right now AR and VR appears to be anyone’s game. And, despite the rumors, it does look like Apple’s on the AR bandwagon. With the imminent release of the Apple Watch and associated technologies, from beacons to heart monitors, Apple won’t be far behind when it decides to unveil its first heads-up display.