Showing posts with label Google Maps. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Google Maps. Show all posts

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Is this really Augmented Reality?

Recently one of the skignz founders came across an ad on Facebook with regards to the new app The Shard is one of the brand new sight-seeing attractions in London.

Built at a staggering 306M – 23 storeys, it’s fair to say that the views you will get from the shard will simply be amazing. Built with offices, restaurants, arcade and even a hotel, it has everything a person could ask for when staying at the Shard.

Complementing the skyline of London, the Shard is defiantly an attraction to be visited when visiting the great city of London.

With being one of the new great attractions in London, is it fair to say that they have created something cutting edge (pardon the pun) quite striking and wonderful.

However some of their technology is not the best attending to every visitor/customer’s needs. 

The Shard has a app for smartphones which you can view content on up the Shard which people can download prior to attending, however when at the Shard it was apparent that the app only worked when you signed up to their Wi-Fi which still did not work when we tried to sign up over a period of about two hours. 

There should be no restriction as to visitors having to sign up to their Wi-Fi when visiting the Shard and this is not stated and made clear to people prior to attending. Being the best attraction is great however technology is a vital aspect that needs to work for every customer attending or it immediately will make the Shard have that lower immediate rating, which is not what they will have aimed for.

Maybe the Shard should look at making the app useable when attached to any Wi-Fi or network.

The journey however that the customers will get from the moment they visit the Shard all the way to the top is very enlightening.

As you go into the Shard you have video screen in the main entrance. The video screens set the historic context of the Shard and the London Bridge location of it. 

Through short films being shown on the video screen guests who are visiting the Shard will be able to see London’s diverse communities, famous streets and places across the capital.

People can also get to know information about the Shard and London, as well as being able to watch the graphics and see how the building is closely linked to the cities transport system, showing the lifts move inside the building and the trains that run underneath both in real time viewing.

As well as having the video screens in the entrance showing a lot of information to guest’s, there is also the range of lifts that the Shard has with detail inside them all.

The lifts travel at six meters per second, making the total lift journey time from Level 1 to level 68 around 60 seconds. 

They each have constantly changing graphics on the ceiling of the lift including lighting amazing people as the make their way up the Shard. 

As guests exit the lift onto the corridor they are welcomed with a map of London extending from the floor up and across all the walls.

Guests follow an image of the River Thames curving along the floor and see the capital mapped geographically around them in 200 sentences scrawled on the walls and floor, each describing a different part of the city.

The second lift that the guests enter into is the same experience as they would have had with the first lift with the animated ceilings. The second lift takes guest out onto the floor with window views of London obscured with window images of the range of cloud types that you may see – not really stating a viewing point for guests and they are images they may see.

The third lift takes you to the triple-height, light-filled, main viewing gallery where breath-taking, 360 degree views for up to 40 miles (64km) over the capital are revealed.

Tell:scopes on the viewing deck
London city can be seen on 12, free to use, ‘Tell:scopes’ – ultra high-tech digital telescopes that are being used in Europe for the first time.  The Tell:scopes enable guests to explore the city around them in real time, as well as offering alternative (pre-recorded) day and night-time views.  Fully interactive, they are able to identify over 200 famous landmarks and places of significant interest and offer information about them in 10 languages.

However London can be seen from 12 free to use ‘Tell:scopes’, we question was this the AR they talked about or is this in the app that could not be accessed?

If it is these ‘Tell:scopes’ then they were awkward to use and certainly not AR in the live sense as they show views of London day, evening, night and back to various key times in history – Tudor, Georgian and Victorian etc...

Higher viewing deck - open air

Whilst watching people use these we managed to get close enough to listen and hear their comments which varied around:

"This is terrible, truly awful..."
"Its very hard to use?"
"This is not what I expected, the graphics are like an old school computer loading up!"
"My iPhone has better camera than this!"
"Why am I getting a countdown clock as the top?"
"The telescope viewfinder in Brighton, when I was a kid was better than this!"

"How can this be Augmented Reality, when they show me at night time, when it’s mid-afternoon and daylight?"

When we tried to use it the graphics loaded up in 'square blocks' so when you went from day to night, 2 parts of the image loaded up in the dark image, then the rest did, which gave for a very disjointed experience and not in keeping with the whole image we had for The Shard, especially everything else being so cutting edge and hi tech in the building.

A further lift and two flights of stairs takes you to the next viewing gallery on floor 72 where the experience changes and although you are surrounded by the glass walls, all of the ceiling is open and exposed to the elements and a nice breeze swept through the place!

No ‘Tell:scopes’ on this floor, again just lost more people using smart phones and mobile devices for photos, filming!

NO one we spoke to had managed to access the 'elusive' Shard app content.

So after a while of enjoying the view and trying to understand what key buildings were and especially those at the furthest part of our sight range and also those mixed up with the atmospheric conditions (London smog) it was difficult to pick out.

We decided to leave and make the long journey back down in the lifts to terra firma!

Although pleasant at the top and one to tick off the bucket list, we have no reason to return... especially not to pay £29 per person to see if their app works on another day!

In our opinion, having to access the Wi-Fi and it not automatically letting you pick it up with no login significantly hampered our visitor experience!

The clearly expensive installation of the ‘Tell:scopes’ were extremely disappointing, so much so that we did not just think, they were ok but more than enough that we would write this whole blog post to share our experiences!

We are massive advocates of innovation especially in information based AR, which this, we feel clearly is not!

We do wish however, that it was quite the opposite! As this is a beautiful building and a key focal point for visitors from across the globe, yet the whole 'shard experience' engages you from when you walk in, right up till you leave on the escalator to street level, yet the 'key' (advertised on facebook) offering of helping people view London in a new way, in a way that’s informative and engaging was not only 'not good enough' it was a disaster of biblical proportions.

We can say this because we know what we were expecting and the rest of the journey was so good and this part was so bad that it amplified the gap between the rest of the offering and these stainless steel Armadillos with tablets welded into their backs with a 1980's user experience on them!

Using skignz instead!
We have also looked at our own technology and what 'The Shard' currently offers and we realise we are not just a step ahead of their offering but quite a few steps ahead. Will 'The Shard' read this and change things; we doubt it, not because they don't believe what we are saying or because they don't want to improve the customer experience but probably more to do with the budget already spent on the ‘Tell:scopes’ system!

In our research into how people are using AR for navigation and identifying places of interest we wrote a blog article...... ( regarding the installation at the Santander Banks HQ in Santander, Spain.

Again we found similarities with 'The Shard' offering, with the hundreds of thousands of digital images, the fixed access through pre-determined equipment, restricted in their range use and function.

Now compare this to what skignz offers and you can see that there is a gulf in the offerings! Why is this?

Were they engaged to provide these installations quite some time ago? Did they not consider people accessing it through their own devices or had skignz simply not been invented yet?

In the work we are exploring with other similar offerings across the globe, we aren't only looking at how to increase and improve the overall visitor experience but also the business model surrounding it, so that the owners of the 'visitor experience' can generate additional revenues that will allow them to 'reinvest' year on year in their attraction!

Keeping it relevant for every customer and not something that was maybe cool a year or two ago or that becomes 'so last season within a short time!'

For more information on how skignz could revolutionise the 'visitor experience' for your brand, please get in contact through our website

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Progression of Google Glass

Google glass was developed by Google in the Project Glass research and development project to produce a mass-market ubiquitous computer. It is a small stamp sized screen attached to a pair of eyeglass frames. When Google Glass first started out, it was not generally a new idea for head-worn augmented reality displays, however now it was backed by Google It had drawn attention from the media to the design that they had created for it.

Let’s take a look at the progression they have made within the previous year. In 2011 it weighed around roughly 8 pounds but now from future creation and amendments it weighs just as light as a pair of regular glasses.

Google Glass or the use of Geo located AR content?
Due to the creation and popularity of the Google Glass and what it can do, advancements have come to what they can do to make it more adjustable for the public and to put their own style to the Glass.

In early 2013 Google were working on models that can be used with prescription lenses. The models were to be available to testers just before the end of 2013. Now earlier this year they created and launched their Titanium collection.

They created and offered 40 different combinations of frames, shades and colours for users to customise their eyewear with. But this was not enough for them.

Providing a wider and more appealing range is key
Google Glass had become so popular and creative within the market that they wanted to do more. From this they created a partnership with Luxottica to help them provide a much wider range of styles to their Glass rather than their current slightly ‘dorky’ form.

Other brands want to be in with Google Glass and become part of its major progression. Luxottica have two major brands that they have made part of the deal; Ray Ban and Oakley. They stated that ‘they believe that a strategic partnership with a leading player like Google is the ideal platform for developing a new way forward in their industry and answering the evolving needs of consumers on a global scale’.

Through creating a deal with Google Glass, brands can get on board with what people may say if the next big shift in technology.

Google Glass Sunglasses
The progression that Google Glass has made is remarkable within the market and they most likely are to keep on progressing as more people will want to get on board with this piece of technology.

It is technology that is creative and provides assistance to the consumers in each need they want that makes their way within the market. Google Glass has met this and now will provide a great service to the market with their light, simple and modular piece of Glass!

Google Glass
We will be sure to keep an eye on how the progression is of Google Glass as we love any innovative technology and enjoy seeing what the future can bring for us all!

Imagine if every 'pin' on a Google Map was turned into a skignz?

We feel the someone along the line, a partnership or amalgamation of Google Glass with the skignz technology, could instanlty 'skignz' the planet, making realtime 'search and social' availible to the massess 'almost overnight' when and where you are! Now that is powerful stuff!

What do you think?

For further information on Google Glass please visit:

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Advancement in Technology: Santander/Skignz

The advancement in technology over the previous years has grown and extended enormously. People and companies are always looking for a way in which they can improve the next stage, create something new that everyone will want to get on board with, or develop further themselves.

Creating the next best advancement in technology can include, being able to consider the behaviour of people, the current technology and the environment around, then putting all three together and seeing what can be done to create advancements in technology to satisfy and be the best in the field. 

Each and every day people will look at how they can take current technology and see what can be done to create the next best thing.

Let’s take an insight into one of the top and biggest companies in the world, and look at how they have used the advancement of technology within their business to help themselves and the custom that they receive and aim to satisfy. Santander is one of the most well-known and successful banking companies of our time.

Let’s take their headquarters in Spain and see how they have made this the best they can. They have looked at the advancement in technology, and used that to create some innovative developments in how they can improve their business and to attract as many visitors to their company.

Santander headquarters has many buildings spread across the vast campus style site, Pereda building, training and development centre, data process centre, services and restaurants area, business centre, sports centre, golf course, exhibition hall, el Bosque, an outdoor sports area including 10km cycle track, a nursery school within the Eastern zone, including the media centre for all staff, and last of all the visitors centre.

The visitors centre is the central focus for the whole campus. Santander has spent  huge resource into styling this building in a way that will impress visitors when they arrive. The technology advancements that they have used have made the place outstanding, and will certainly impress people when they visit the headquarters. They have managed to look at communicating with the visitors in their own way, letting them be intrigued at the same time as interacting with them.

Let’s start off with looking at their first creation in technology and what they have come up with for their business.

Robots, who are interactive guest assistants – naming them Robotic Butlers. 

The Robots have been designed for Santander to communicate with visitors when they arrive to the building. They are little red robots that have been created using GPS technology to guide the visitors around the building facilities. The robots are only small/medium sized, but have a lot of information stored inside them, they are even fluent in various languages.

The way that the robots have been designed to work is that when a visitor arrives to the Santander headquarters in Spain, they will be able to find a touch screen console where they can choose their language and where they wish to be going. Whether that be a meeting room, another part of the building or campus, or just to find out some general information. The robots will assist visitors to find where they need to be, through the touch screen control, they ‘show you the way’.

Besides the robots that Santander have had designed, they also created the Augmented Reality model of their campus facilities: the Augmented Reality Explorer. 

Santander got a designer to build a massive architecture model of their campus, and then translated the model into a 3D space.

Four screens were designed to go around each side of the model which slide from side to side. Santander decided to use Augmented Reality and make it look like the four screens are transparent. When a visitor or someone wants to look at the 3D model, they will look through the screen and see additional information that is not already displayed. The screens provide a digital layer of information when you look through them, so that users can explore the aspects that we don’t see or understand about the campus and that is not already visually relevant.

Santander also has an interactive wall that they created for visitors coming to Santander headquarters. The wall has been created as a motion-sensing video wall out of touch screens. The wall can function on different stages given the distance that the user has to the wall itself. The application can react to what is around it and adapt to different situations. Visitors can also interact with the touch screen wall to find out information on Santander and the headquarters itself.

Santander has aimed to create this exploration of technology to distinguish it from its competitors as a forward thinking bank and be seen as one of the finest in the business, through interactive robots, augmented reality and touch screen interactive displays.

But how much will all of this cost them? Potentially costing Santander millions to create all this technology, yet limited to use inside its reception area within their headquarters campus.

What if there was a different and more cost effective way in which all of the above technology could be brought together in one simple app available on any mobile device.

skignz is a new app invention through which signs and 3D objects are placed in the environment and can be viewed via a mobile camera device. Through using the free viewer app, you can view the Skignz that have been placed in the real world in real time.

An example of where skignz has been used effectively in a similar type of environment is Teesside University (UK). Around Teesside University, skignz have been set up and placed around campus, so visitors, students, staff and even suppliers are able to navigate their way around the campus. They can simply load up the app through their mobile device and then view where the skignz are with the information of what they are looking for.

Similar to the Santander headquarters campus in Spain, helping people to navigate about through their robots and interactive augmented reality model, skignz does this for Teesside University. skignz is not restricted to Santander or Teesside University but can be implemented for any campus environment across the globe.

The skignz technology is not restricted just to campus navigation; imagine if every pin on Google maps was transformed into a skignz, it could be extended to villages, towns, cities, countries and continents or anywhere on the planet! There is no limit to where skignz can be placed and where it can be used. It adapts and has all the same advancements of technology just like Santander HQ visitor experience, however with no geographic location restrictions.

As mind blowing as skignz is to navigate around, it can also be used socially. It can be a way for people to keep in touch with others, such as social media, but instead of having Facebook they could set up their own profile right above their own heads.

You can place a skignz with all the information on, such as a status or what they wish to say along with an image, and have people see this or who they wish too by setting their privacy settings to either public or friends.

What do you think? Have a see for yourself using the following links. - Santander Technology Video
- skignz Technology Video