European Business: What is the difference between Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)?
Robin Sho Moser: With Virtual Reality, the user finds themselves in a completely computer-generated virtual environment. In Augmented Reality, their real surroundings are merely enhanced with digital elements. Users of Virtual Reality can transport themselves to a fantasy realm. When they put on a special Virtual Reality visor, they can find themselves cast away on a tropical island, on stage at a live concert or courtside at a basketball game. With Augmented Reality, it is the practical benefit that is important. That is most obvious in the number of applications it already has in the industrial sector. For example, assembly engineers on production lines use AR to help them identify the correct parts they need. AR is also used in the maintenance sector to supply remote diagnostics to service engineers.
European Business: How do you fetch AR into your living room?
Robin Sho Moser: One option is to download one of the many AR apps that are available for tablet PCs or smartphones. At the moment, these tend to be games in which AR is integrated. Pokémon Go is one example. But you can also find AR in everyday app tools. For example, Apple’s AR app “Measure”, which measures the dimensions of real objects such as suitcases or even a room with a virtual AR tape measure.
For many decades, television was a passive medium that invited viewers to just “lean back” and soak it up.” Robin Sho Moser
European Business: What advantages does AR offer and how can it improve the TV experience?
Robin Sho Moser: For humans, video is a medium that conveys a lot of information at once. Nevertheless, there is much information that cannot be transmitted via the moving image or soundtrack. For many decades, television was a passive medium that invited viewers to just “lean back” and soak it up. With the advent of streaming services such as Netflix and increasing interactivity, viewers are being encouraged to take a more active part or to “lean forward”. As an emerging technology, AR is ideally suited to enhancing our everyday lives.
European Business: What kind of content can be displayed with AR and how are you developing it?
Robin Sho Moser: If you take the example of a televised football match. A lot of the information and statistics cannot be permanently shown on screen. With AR, it is possible to arrange them around the edge of the TV screen and view them intuitively. We can also imagine completely new interactions with player holograms beamed into your home living room. It would be possible to display a life-size image of Manuel Neuer next to your TV set.
In the retail area we are currently developing an AR shopping interface for a customer in Asia. This will make it possible to display a separate 3D image of an article being presented on a home shopping channel. You will be able to “place” the item directly on the table in front of you, examine it in detail and then buy it via your smartphone. This greatly simplifies the entire ordering process.
The content is created by our clients. To help them, we have developed a development kit for the “Unity” gaming platform, which will give every developer on the platform the opportunity to develop the “AR layer” for the relevant video content themselves.
The big players like Apple and Google are already working hard to make AR accessible to as wide an audience as possible in a reliable and convenient form. Robin Sho Moser
European Business: What equipment do users need to make full use of AR functionality?
Robin Sho Moser: Nothing more than what most people already have: a smartphone or tablet. We are focusing primarily on existing infrastructure. In the future, we want to install our technology on wearable glasses like Magic Leap etc. but are currently waiting until the market has matured enough so that a sufficiently large number of consumers own these devices. The big players like Apple and Google are already working hard to make AR accessible to as wide an audience as possible in a reliable and convenient form. That is why we will continue to focus on the smartphone and tablet market in the first instance. However, a lot is happening at the moment: just recently came the projection that Apple will launch its first AR glasses in 2020.
European Business: You carried out your first AR project in Germany on the Galileo children’s science program on Pro7. Is this the first step into a future that other media channels could soon follow?
Robin Sho Moser: Absolutely! We have already launched in the US with Nickelodeon and are currently rolling out the Home Shopping Case in Asia. We are seeing strong international interest in our technology from the areas of media networks and also from mobile network operators and cable networks. The upcoming launch of 5G offers our customers many new opportunities to broaden their portfolios, offer new services and increase earning potential. With our cooperation with SoftBank, we are very pleased to have already found a strong partner in the Japanese market.
European Business: Which TV or possibly cinema project would you most like to enhance with AR content?
Robin Sho Moser: Sport is a very interesting field for us right now! Making the 2020 Summer Olympics and the European Championships in 2020 interactive with AR is a possible goal!
Interview: Vera Gaides | Photos: eyecandylab