Showing posts with label discover skignz. Show all posts
Showing posts with label discover skignz. Show all posts

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

First Visit to Toronto for skignz

My 1st ever visit to Toronto started with an early flight flying out of La Guardia, New York. An hour & a half later; 2 cans of Red Bull down I landed at Pearson International Airport in Toronto. 



Stepping off the plane, if felt like I had just landed back on Teesside… cold, wet and windy!! However, not even the grim weather could dampen my enthusiasm as I looked forward to a busy couple of days ahead.

After a 30 minute taxi drive I was checking in to the Delta hotel on Maple Leaf Square, a stones through away from the Air Canada Centre. No time to rest though, I was picked up from the hotel by an old teammate & good friend who now lives in Toronto, was able to show me around and act as my host throughout my short stay in the city.

1st port of call was to the official Toronto FC bar where we watched Portland Timbers v Toronto with all the local and very passionate fans. It was a real family friendly environment with everyone having a good time & supporting their team in the right way.

After watching Toronto FC narrowly lose 2-1 to the Timbers, we made our way to the Air Canada Centre as I was invited as a guest to watch the deciding play off game between Toronto Raptors v Indian Pacers. 

This was my 1st experience of an NBA Basketball game and everyone kept telling me that I couldn’t have chosen a better game to attend. The atmosphere was electric as the Raptors hadn’t been past this stage in 15 years!



























It was a star-studded event, with big names such as Drake and Didier Drogba in attendance. Whilst at the game, I was introduced to some very influential people who loved the concept of skignz and the almost endless possibilities that it offers. Watch this space!

To top the evening off, the Raptors won the game 89-84, leaving a party atmosphere in and around the venue, but it was back to the hotel for me as I had a busy day ahead…

Day 2 in Toronto began with my standard hotel breakfast, Eggs Benedict! With a full stomach and a much needed caffeine fix (Red Bull), I was off to my 1st meeting of the day. 

After some very positive and productive discussions, my friend picked me up and I was fortunate enough to experience the famous Soho House Members club of Toronto for lunch. It’s very much an 'up market' establishment in which members are very selectively chosen.

After an interesting lunch meeting with some promising new business contacts, it was time for my final meeting before catching my flight back to New York.


All in all, I had a great time in the city of Toronto and made some exciting new contacts that will hopefully have a major part to play in taking skignz forward in Canada.

And as always for further information on skignz then please visit us on the usual Social Media channels or drop us a line info@skignz.com

Friday, 8 April 2016

AR or Not AR, That is the Question?

Part of the role of skignz the company is to keep abreast of movements and innovations within the technology sector.


There are a thousand and one Blog posts, websites and twitter feeds ploughing information into cyber world.  

At the moment, the rise of Virtual Reality (VR) is big news.  Everything from uses of VR, the hardware required to use it, the costs of hardware, which platform to use and who is the newest ‘kid on the block’.

Augmented Reality (AR) is currently second in the cyber newsstands by comparison.  

Even though AR presents the largest percentage of the ‘Reality’ market in terms of uses, an awful lot of companies are seeing the benefits of including AR in their offering to customers or users.

The latest in this trend is Tinder, who has acquired Humin, a company that works on figuring out the context of social connections.


Cumin’s CEO views Tinder as Augmented Reality because it is all about meeting and connecting and it uses your phone to augment the special information around you, and put it into contact.  
They’re calling it Actionable Information, but… is it really Augmented Reality?











Are they placing ‘Augmented’ content into the real world?

Or are they ‘Augmenting’ information to make connections easier?

In fact, it is actually Actionable Information, NOT Augmented Reality…

Discuss…


And as always for further information on skignz then please visit us on the usual Social Media channels or drop us a line info@skignz.com


Monday, 4 April 2016

SXSW - AR/VR Track...

...we were underwhelmed to say the least!


Before I go any further, it's not SXSW that left us underwhelmed, SXSW was a fantastic experience not only personally but also from a skignz point of view. 

We met with many important and exciting people, providing skignz with some quite exciting opportunities going forward.


That said where the underwhelming feelings come from is that related to the AR/VR track at SXSW, the panels, the presentations and the demo area. 

As most of them were focussed for the Wednesday (Most Interactive related parties closing parties happened on the Monday) it seemed wedged between the Interactive, the Film & Music. 

Sort of an afterthought fitted in to 'pay lip service' to the these 'two areas of tech' despite them being two of the 'the' biggest areas of advance in tech.

Let's consider this in a little more detail. AR/VR may be 'the NKOTB' to the majority, yet both have been around for decades... Then you could argue, if they have been around this long, why give them any consideration at all and if so why now?

Writing this article I realise that my thoughts and questions only bring up more thoughts and questions as I seek to answer each of them. That I now believe is because of the conflicting stories across the media, hype in areas that is unsustainable, the majorities actual understanding of VR and AR and been the difference between the two, not to mention all of the 'fringe' technologies that are reported to be one or the other but are actually neither.

'Breaking down my feelings of being underwhelmed into a few key areas may help you understand where I'm coming from?'

Panel Discussions:
I attended quite a few of these focussed on AR/VR and one or two other panels where it was discussed. I seemed to get the feeling that VR 'was here now' but more focussed on Gaming, Simulation and Sex (Porn). Also most of the panels didn't really reveal anything new, discuss any real 'gritty issues' more a soapbox for individuals to wax lyrical about their own careers and companies they worked for.



Nobody really engaged the other panel members in real debate or even the audience, who's questions seemed 'very pithy' and more about how the person asking the question could get to work with the guys on the panel.

Experiences & Presentations:
Across Austin there were a number of 'VR experiences and demo lounges' all of the ones we saw and engaged with were VR focussed with, if their were any AR ones, we either didn't see them or couldn't find them amongst all the noise and activity of SXSW itself.

Demo Area:
One of the most underwhelming experiences, of SXSW. Imagine walking into a large conference room, with a 15-20 'areas/stalls/stands' (can't describe them exactly as their wasn't an exact offering) littered (best word I can use to describe the layout) around the perimeter.

Each of these 'areas' were populated with a range of people from 1-2 up to 5-10 all wearing VR headsets, small queues of people waiting for their 1-5min experience. 

I have experienced VR and all the progression/regression this has shown over the last 20 years and taking my time to engage with a few different offerings.

It's clear that the tech has improved significantly over the last 2-3 years more so in the previous 17-20 years. The content was engaging and interesting in part and the feelings of motion sickness, latency reduced and rendering/lighting being the biggest improvements that I noticed.

I think the scene before me was extremely odd because you had so many people engaging with a very 'personal/individual' experience, all in the same space, when in reality these people would be using this tech in their own home or place of work on their own. 

It's like watching a 'silent disco', where each person is listening to totally different tracks whilst dancing to them.

So If you picture the room full of people with large headsets on, walking and moving around like it's the first time they had ever wore varifocal lenses listening to a 'silent disco' then you may come close to the surreal view laid out before me.

If you couple this with the queues of people waiting for their turn on each VR Headset, the layout of each brand's demo area and lack of engagement with each other, I hope you could forgive me for being underwhelmed.

Because the VR experience is very personal and singular, the experience around that experience is for me the underwhelming part. Growing up I enjoyed going in those giant hemisphere tents that projected 'a virtual ride on a roller coaster', the small simulators at fairs and theme parks with a small number of people who sit inside an immersive experience.


Even through to my early days in VR in the late 1990's, early Noughties, using the Universities Hemi-Spherion, nothing though prepared me for the SXSW16 VR experience.

Overall approach to VR/AR:
The total lack of an AR presence! This for me was one of the biggest shocks in as much as not only was there no AR presence (other than skignz all around you - you need the skignz app to access the content) but very little was discussed around AR.

Yes, we all understand VR is the buzzword and popular theme at the moment that said 2016 seems to be developing into the year where AR is more widely discussed as VR roles out.

You will see from our other blog posts.... What skignz brought to SXSW and demoed in UK@SXSW Great Britain House, so I won't go over that ground, or try to draw comparisons.

Suffice to say, even skignz could have done more to improve the visitors of SXSW experience, but we cannot do that alone...


And as always for further information on skignz then please visit us on the usual Social Media channels or drop us a line info@skignz.com

Monday, 21 March 2016

SXSW16: The Greatest Show on Earth?

Passport - Check, Flight Details - Check, skignz QR Codes and Marketing Collateral - Check…. Ready to go..!

A 5:30am start on the long road to Heathrow for Co-Founder & CMO Si Brown and Head of DV Partnerships Jamie Clarke didn’t seem too bad. 

Although the constant rain all the way down one of the UK's busiest roads (M1 motorway) made the journey a longer one than expected… 

skignz was on its way to its first ever SXSW (South by South West) in Austin, Texas.  Widely regarded as THE Tech show to attend, SXSW is held annually in the One Star state in the USA and is attended by well over 100,000 people from all over the world.





Little did the two intrepid explorers realise, that upon arrival in Texas, the airline unfortunately decided to misplace Jamie’s suitcase. Then, upon arrival at the Hotel, there was a mix up with the booking and there was no room at the Inn!  

Somewhere to stay was quickly found in the form of a Motel (please imagine a motel, in the loosest sense of the word and your worst nightmare... you are not even close!) 

We then spent most of the early hours trying to book into another hotel for the remainder of our stay and assuming all was good in the USA. 

But these things happen in three’s don’t they? 
Well, they didn’t have to wait long, as at the end of the second day, Jamie left his phone in a 'hailed' Yellow Taxi and that was the set!


Jamie said, “At first, it seemed like fate had conspired against us.
 

But once we had gotten the three things out of the way, we were really pleased with how the trip went overall"

Things got decidedly better for the pair from there on in. Many thanks to colleagues at UKTi, Tech North and Tech City UK, who had supported skignz to be able to attend. 

We were also able to make some appointments in advance, so as to better utilise the time spent at the event.  

The whole environment was digitally enhanced by the presence of skignz to help attendees find their way around the huge city of Austin, finding Hotel Venues, the Party Venues, Registration and of course the excellent UKTi Great Britain House (which skignz made their base, throughout the week). 

“We placed skignz at all of the major areas of the event, guiding people to the Registration area, the Convention centre and helped the 'Lounges' to be found by people in an unfamiliar surroundings and generally showing people how useful visual way finding could be” said Co-Founder & CMO, Si Brown.

                      

Our meetings with some of the 'largest brands on the planet' went well, with several meetings leading on to follow up meetings upon our return.  

Si and Jamie held the majority of meetings in the GREAT Britain House, which was a superb venue designed to showcase the best of British businesses to our American counterparts.


Some great comments were received by the team throughout the trip, with people using twitter to say that skignz had ‘made their trip to SXSW’ with one amazing lady (you know who you are!) even saying on twitter “Fan girling the skignz tech was the highlight of the trip”, so, good impressions made by the guys in Texas.

Overall, this was a productive, and tiring trip for the guys.  With skignz placed all over the grand old city of Austin, the greatest tech show on earth, became the skignz show in the sky...

Could different types of AR have been used to introduce the varying VR experiences, could the whole room be set up in such a way that everything was AR or VR rather than a collection of areas with companies trying to out do each other?

Imagine a 'curated space' with complimentary AR/VR experiences leading users through a journey, opening their minds to new possibilities, provoking thoughts and questions on how each step could be applied to their own lives, both personally and professionally?

It needs a coordinated approach and some serious engagement in order for AR/VR to go from a nice to have, pithy, transition piece in the middle of SXSW to a major focal point in 2017. Very surprising especially with all with the current levels of investment and interest in the two.

SXSW AR/VR track made me seriously 'beg the question', How long can these technologies be classed as 'The Future' rather than the 'Here and Now'?

Read Si’s Blog Post on his thoughts of the VR/AR track at SXSW here…


With the airline again messing up but this time with leg room on our return journey, we certainly have had a mixed type of trip but as always we like to focus on the positive and it's those positives we hope skignz will benefit from going forward.



And as always for further information on skignz then please visit us on the usual Social Media channels or drop us a line info@skignz.com


Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Review of 2015

2015 proved to be an award winning and interesting time for skignz, as well as externally, in the world of AR.

The landscape of AR changed quite significantly throughout 2015, as either acquisitions, or investments were made, reducing the number of companies in the market. Blippar invested heavily (increasing their worth to circa £1.4b) whilst also acquiring their biggest rival, Layar.


Other companies such as Apple acquired Metaio and Google invested even further ($542m) into MagicLeap.  

Other companies apps were not renewed and many digital/ad/creative agencies had to look for other ways to offer their client AR experiences, with Junaio being acquired and stopping its SDK for others to use. In addition, INTEL acquired RECON.



Also across the wider market, Apple introduced the ability to be able to open one app from another, something that was not previously available on the iTunes App store.


We know that skignz are focussed on AR, however VR's emergence over the past few months made some waves, with more progress from Occults Rift and even Facebook. Founder & CEO Mark Zuckerberg, quoting our own Co-founder & CMO Si Brown, stated that "Why look at your phone, when you can look through it!"


Other VR progress was made in line with the huge interest in the technology. The first Oculus Rift Headsets were due to be shipped in the final quarter of 2015.




Moving on to skignz, the biggest difference you will have seen is the aesthetics of the skignz website and the skignz app. Considerable time was spent in developing 'version 2.0' for IOS with Android being currently finalised. 


In addition to the new look and feel, skignz were present at many outdoor events such as PRIDE LDN, Glastonbury, EDC & Leeds Festival. 

The feedback on the tech and also the performance exceeded even our high expectations.


Another key milestone was the development and introduction of the 'ARtAbove' channel, allowing ANY Artist, ANYWHERE in the World to place their own Art ANYWHERE they want, essentially making the whole world a gallery. 

This was developed in conjunction with artist Martin McCloon and was even showcased at Disgraceland (Banksy's Installation in Weston Super-mare), actually subverting the subversive.

2015 was an award winning year for skignz as they were voted as 'The UK's Most Disruptive Tech Startup' by Ignite, 'TechAwards NE', 'Thinking Digital' and the 'Marketing Award' at the BNBA'15. 2016 has already started with a bang, with skignz being shortlisted again in the BNBA'16 and last week coming Runner up in KPMG's 'Best British Mobile Startup'.


skignz increased their team with key additions of Jamie Clarke (Head of DV Partnerships) and David Murphy (Head of Sports Partnerships) both settling in quickly and hitting the ground running across the many conferences and events in the final quarter of the year.
















In the final weeks of the year skignz launched their #skignzsanta experience, which allowed parents to follow the 12 days lead up to Christmas eve whilst learning each day how to set up their own personalised #skignzsanta. 

Parents placed two skignz outside their homes so when Santa was close (following on the NORAD or Google Santa websites) parents could show 'Santa' flying past through their magic santa camera Smartphone or tablet.




Initially they saw what looked like Santa in his sleigh being led away by his reindeers, then parents 'panned across the sky' to reveal a special 'personalised note' to their child(ren), telling them he can only deliver when they are fast asleep. 


The hundreds of people who did this across the globe said their children were simply ‘blown away’ by the experience, and getting them to sleep was a lot easier than normal! 


We will be looking into doing a similar thing for Christmas 2016 but we have a lot of other interesting and exciting 'skignz' projects to deliver before then...

And as always for further information on skignz then please visit us on the usual Social Media channels or drop us a line info@skignz.com

Thursday, 3 December 2015

SVB Christmas Soiree 2015 - The Walkways Atop Tower Bridge, London

Last night we had the privilege of joining our bankers SVB (Silicon Valley Bank) for their Christmas Soiree, held atop the Magnificent and Charming Tower Bridge in Central London.



After having a wonderful evening we would like to share a number of pictures with you. 

Unfortunately none of them capture our very own CMO, Si Brown, 'slipping' on the glass floor (almost breaking it).

 

Plenty of wine, canapes all across the glass floor and plenty of opportunities to network with the bank's other clients, partners and potential VC's.

 

A fantastic evening was had by the skignz team before embarking on a trip across London to another event at a Mayfair Club, actually sponsored by one of SVB's other clients we were introduced to on top of the tower.

Again another fantastic location, great company and a fine evening enjoyed by all. Merry Christmas guys and thanks for the invite, same again next year hey ;-)


For Further information on the remarkable facilities at Tower Bridge and how you can hire them yourself, please visit: http://www.towerbridge.org.uk

For Further information on SVB, please visit: http://www.svb.com


And as always for further information on skignz then please visit us on the usual Social Media channels or drop us a line info@skignz.com