Pepsimoji Augmented Reality & Facial Recognition Experience

Love: From Cave To Keyboard Pepsimoji Facial Recognition and Augmented Reality Display Image Zoom

Pepsi recently launched a Pepsimoji Augmented Reality & Facial Recognition Experience. The Love: From Cave to Keyboard Exhibit, Imagined by Pepsi, explores the evolution of communication through the emotional lens of love – from primitive etchings on earthen walls to illustrative hieroglyphics; icons drawn by hand to icons on the screen; from <3 to today’s evocative global language: emojis. You can read more about the exhibit from the press release here or watch an overview video of the event here.

Zugara’s Facial Recognition technology was used for an Augmented Reality experience where a graphic emoji was overlaid on the person’s face depending on their expression.  Different emoji expressions could be activated using facial expression including a smile, kiss, wink, sticking tongue out, acting bashful, and various movements of the head in different directions. Our Facial Recognition engine was optimized for iOS and used with 2 iPad Pro displays.


People at the event could save their image on our admin stations and email, text or share their photo socially. The iPad Pro displays were also synchronized to 2 large display monitors where other attendees could watch the Pepsimoji expressions change in real-time.

The Love: From Cave to Keyboard event also featured other innovative and interactive Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality technologies.  These technologies included a Betty Boop image recognition experience, Oculus Rift Virtual Reality video experience, and a Projection Mapping display. You can view images of these difference technologies in the gallery below.

Visit our Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Technology section to view more info on our technologies including Facial Recognition, Gesture Control, Mobile Augmented Reality and Geolocation, Augmented Reality Video Conferencing and more..

  • Love: From Cave To Keyboard Pepsimoji Facial Recognition and Augmented Reality Display Image 2
    Pepsimoji Facial Recognition and Augmented Reality Experience

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A Work in Progress: Virtual Reality

No startup should be making decisions without knowing the landscape of the industry they're pursuing to make a bang in. Much like Elon Musk could've jumped at the opportunity to buy a space rocket for $8 million, but instead, after doing his due-diligence, he ascertained he could build one for 1/10 of the price. Power is knowledge.

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The Leap of Faith to save the World

Fortune Magazine just interviewed MagicLeap and now published the video. If you have 24 minutes and want to know first-hand how Rony Abovitz (CEO) and Brian Wallace (CMO) tick, I`d say it´s worth to watch the interview with Fortune´s Michal Lev-Ram yourself.

So, what do they reveal? After the initial definition (“mixed reality lightfield”) we get confirmed that some kind of light-weight headset is needed (with Mark I), but that they would rather not call it “glasses” as it is just not comparable to a simple flat screen in front of your eyes. As mixed reality tends to sound hipper than AR these days, they differentiate their system from AR – with AR being the terminator view with a visual layer / HUD instead. (Though I always disagree with this definition – mixed reality being the full continuum including VR.)

They talk a bit about the team that wears their system all-day long – which is definitely marketing but could also support the thought that is really light-weight and you don´t get a sore neck or eyestrain from it. The visual quality is supposed to be as good as in their presented videos. They mention virtual people that get a different (non-realistic) look on purpose to distinguish them from real people. Users had trouble interacting with the real world when virtual objects were in the way (and would cut off the user´s hands for example). This could get really exiting (and the good scary). They chat a bit about the great new Pokémon Go (love Nintendo) release and how it could look like with MagicLeap. Well, it would look like the marketing video (I included just yesterday).

Currently they claim to have 600 people working on the system. The big factory with a fully equiped and production line is running. Or almost (right now “debugging production line”). So, a fuzzy “almost there” to the current status of the release. Regarding the timeframe of the roll-out and productive use in the streets (a question asked from investor Alibaba) they comment that adoption could go faster than anyone thinks. Brian says that within in three years (by 2020) 70% to 80% of the current audience would be wearing a device like the one from MagicLeap. That is really stunningly quick if it where to happen that way!

For the field of applications they give a broad range of possible use cases and fields. While gaming or entertainment could be one of the first for private users (refering e.g. to Lucasfilm/ILM) there are many more. In the end – their words – they do design a whole new contextual computing system and not one application (that´s why they have to spend so much investor money). Basically, all is possible. They imagine typical office applications and everyday stuff to support our daily life. But sectors like health care could be big as well. An app “look-by” lets you auto-scan the products and cloths around you to directly shop them through platforms like amazon Alibaba. In genereal it will yield in tools that raise our productivity, allow for better social interactions or are just fun. But clear words: consumer market first, later B2B – which I think is a bit surprising (will the final device be as cheap as my new high-end smartphone in 2020?).

Their vision (being asked if we soon have empty offices without laptops) is definitely to see all of the computing world via a HMD. With a classic computer or phone you always have screen edges where everything is cut off. With a HMD you have the whole space as your screen -it`s just unlimited. (Already people mimmicked virtual screens for their VR HMDs development as a fun in-between step.) They want to take us away from those dusty screens, go out into the natural world and live and work outside again (like humans used to) – but with the digital information integrated seamlessly.

Hopefully they will offer an open platform for it in the spirit of the old internet. They claim that everybody will be a creator. Your daughter transforms your house into a Unicorn world while you have set up a different version of your augmented physical space, etc. The individual user will be able to create his or her own worlds and objects and share them. Everybody could take part in changing the space we live in. “Human creativity could save the world!

Pokémon released into the Wild

Gotta catch ém all! Pokemon, again!

The biggest game franchise from the past, that started back in the 90s (people played on the GameBoy a lot) just got a new release. This year for everybody´s smartphones – including an augmented reality view. We´ve followed the plans and the beta and now it got released officially… well, partly. Due to high demand servers went down and it is yet to be rolled out globally. People are going mad about it already. Is it really worth it? What`s the deal? What is it?

Well, Pokémon is nothing new. Honestly, you must have been living on another planet not to know about Pikachu and the other cartoon monsters. The franchise started off as a GameBoy title to collect little monsters (pocket monsters) and let the trainer (you) fight them in virtual arenas. Animé series, around a dozen movies, many games and merch followed. In 2016 the new video game release comes from the Niantic Lab team (that created the GPS-geocaching game Ingress with Google). So, expectations are very high (Niantic has earned their street cred through their first game and Pokémon frenchise supposed to have big funding in the back).

The new game ships to your smartphone and is free to play (but you pay to level up faster). You seek new little monsters by scanning the included Google maps data. It builds a virtual world ontop of your real surroundings and let´s you catch pokémon by throwing balls at them. This last step can be done in 3D (on your phone) view or via the prementioned AR mode. One of their trailers goes like this:

Obviously that´s not how the game looks (in 2016). It´s rather a regular GPS-based geocaching game like any other with a simple AR view in it. See a short video review with real world footage here or another mixed review here.

(Since I couldn´t play it yet myself (no, I don´t want my phone to be highjacked) this won´t be a full review, but rather some thoughts on it. Germany is still to come.)

The GPS-geocaching approach, catching pokémon will definitely be big fun for people who like to have a reason to go outside (to catch virtual stuff). It might even occasionally lead to nice meetings with new people that play, too. It sure can be motivating for a while to “collect them all” and to level up.

But to me, on the first sight, the game looks too casual and with the greedy industry you can be sure to never have caught all. There will be impossible catches or expensive ones you cannot reach freely. People – and long-term fans – already discuss the new battle mode. It sure looks simple. There is no real battle going on – like in older beat-em-up-days on a gaming console – now it´s just tap-tap-tap-dead. This seems a bit dull, considering that the reason of collecting all pokémon is to let them fight against each other. But then the battle is so simple and boring? Hmm…

Graphics and menus look fun and matching the overall game design (not being photorealistic). Nevertheless the battery will get sucked empty quickly when you run around with your GPS heating up and the AR mode enabled. Ah, the AR mode! On the one hand it´s nice to see a major world-wide played game integrate AR. The public will finally know about AR (if they don´t know about it yet). Well… and they might get disappointed. At least I am. The AR mode is so simple that the initial ARToolkit`s Snowman looked better integrated into the real world than this! Pokémon Go switches on the camera and you don´t need any additional reference inside the view. Fine. They probably assume a typical hand-held height and angle towards the ground, maybe added some computer vision to track the floor a bit. But tracking is very shaky in the videos I have seen and the visual integration is not existent. At least they could have adjusted the monsters by some white balance or color correction. Ideally with an adjusted brightness not to see a Pokémon stand out in utter darkness. Probably they needed to find the lowest common denominator to roll it out on 99,9% of all devices – but it´s a shame to see such a bad AR mode in 2016 go public from such a big player. We can only hope for updates to come – maybe making use of occlusion handling and 3D recognition of the real world next (using Lenovo´s Project Tango phone for instance).

Moreover, the AR view does not seem to give additional functionality. Probably people use it once and leave it off later on (to save battery as well). Hopefully a later version will enforce AR with better technology and a proper reason to switch.

It seems like good fun for a little while, but then again I´m probably way out of the target group. So, let´s see what the youngsters say and how long they stay loyal to it. It also depends on how well Nintendo manages the up-scaling of it and the free-to-play spirit. Will the players get swamped by ad content, e.g. the Coca Cola monster? Will people really hunt down monsters outdoors long-term? It already raises some social discussions and security questions: first people got mugged when stepping into a remote Pokestop or some people just get annoyed by the new flashmobs in their surroundings (e.g. turning an old church into a Pokémon gym

Overall it feels like a good step towards a great come-back for Nintendo who missed the mobile era until today. Only the AR mode is too basic now and might scare people off of AR for many years. Imagine the above marketing video with a Hololens, Meta or MagicLeap device to really play it that way! That would so awesome!

Update, July, 13th, 10:59 cest

Now Pokémon Go is available in Germany as well! Gentlemen, start your downloads! I`ll double check my above assumptions and see if my thoughts were justified. :-)

Pokemon Go Is Driving Augmented Reality And Geolocation Adoption

Pokemon Go Augmented Reality Geolocation

It’s official – Pokemon Go is a massive hit and driving Augmented Reality and Geolocation adoption.  In less than a week, Pokemon Go has:

More importantly, news articles are heralding a new era of location-based gaming where people are actually going outside again and exercising more. So while Pokemon Go is the latest cultural phenomenon, what are the triggers creating this massive mobile hit?

The Pokemon Brand

Pokemon is a 20 year-old brand from Nintendo and has multi-generational appeal.  Furthermore, the nature of Pokemon gameplay is perfectly suited for location-based activities in a mixed physical and virtual world. It really is lighting in a bottle with a perfect mix of brand gameplay + augmented reality + geolocation.  You can read a primer on everything Pokemon Go related here.

Augmented Reality Integration

While the current hype (and investment) has been centered around Virtual Reality over Augmented Reality, it’s clear that Augmented Reality is playing a major role in Pokemon Go’s success.  Augmented Reality and geolocation gaming has been around for over 8 years and Ogmento was one of the early pioneers in the mobile AR and location space. More recently, brands have been utilizing mobile AR and location for promotional efforts. The Hungry Jack’s Protect Your Whopper mobile AR game is one variation of interacting with virtual creatures in your physical environment from a mobile device.

Basic Augmented Reality Tech

Pokemon Go isn’t using any type of advanced Augmented Reality.  The virtual objects are only displayed in your mobile viewfinder and object recognition and advanced geo positioning are not being used for more accurate placement of the Pokemon characters in your physical environment. However, it’s precisely this basic type of AR experience that people are engaging and interacting with. While devices like HoloLens show the future of Augmented Reality and more advanced functionality, simple AR experiences matched up with geolocation are introducing consumers to the potential of Augmented Reality.


Pokemon Go uses a brilliant placement of virtual objects in relation to your location.  Similar to geolocation game Ingress (and created by the same company Niantic), virtual locations are often tied to physical locations that game players can interact with. Having the foundation of Ingress to work with, the Pokemon Go world is a similar yet more interactive experience given the element of capturing virtual ‘objects’ in physical locations. This creates a unique social effect where game players can often identify each other through proximity and interactive gameplay.  This can have unintended results, however, such as one man’s physical house being virtually designated as a ‘gym’ with Pokemon players showing up at all hours of the night.

It’s Pokemon’s World…We’re Just Living In It

While wearables devices like HoloLens will comprise a large Augmented Reality segment in the future, we have often argued that mobile-based Augmented Reality coupled with geolocation will be an even bigger segment.  With 3D cameras coming to the market now, not only can geolocation be used for virtual placement of objects in your physical environment, but 3D cameras will allow for real-time mapping of the physical environment for more stable positioning of the virtual objects. Once we arrive at that stage, this new virtual world (based on the physical) will become the largest virtual gold rush the world has ever seen.


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Pokemon GO and the Crisis on an Infinitely Augmented Earth

downloadIn the classic comic book series Crisis on Infinite Earths, thousands of worlds collided. Prior to that title, virtually all of the various stories told and characters created by DC’s various comics were said to take place within parallel dimensions of the same universe. This convenient device allowed the “Golden Age” superhero stories from mid-century comic books to co-exist with later re-imaginings of the same characters without contradicting each other. When Crisis brought the walls between dimensions tumbling down, however, multiple versions of the same characters began occupying the same space, with predictably chaotic results.

Our world has begun to experience a similar phenomenon. Augmented reality games encourage players to travel throughout the real world and enable them to interact with digital characters and objects programmed to appear as if they exist at specific points in physical space. The appeal of this gaming mechanic is evident from the sci-if game Ingress, released a few years ago, and the massively popular new AR app Pokemon GO.

Just like the Crisis character HarbingerPokemon GO heralds a coming onslaught of similar AR games that will blend our physical world with their own particular brand of creative content. The downside of augmented gaming, however, is that, in real life, there is only one physical world, and all of these games must share it. The more such games are released, the more crowded our reality is going to get.crisis_on_infinite_earths_01_wraparound

I’ve written about several of the repercussions of AR gaming over the past few years, both in this blog and in multiple chapters of my 2015 book, Augmented Reality Law, Privacy, and Ethics. They include competition between players of various games for use of the same physical spaces–conflicts that could disrupt the ability of players and non-players alike to enjoy the venue, and even lead to violence. (This problem is already highlighted by the fact that both Ingress and Pokemon GO were released by the same company–the Google spinoff Niantic–and both use public buildings and landmarks as the default locations for their digital objects.) I discussed this in Chapter 6 of my book:

Imagine, then, what would happen if another AR game with a completely different vibe and culture were to superimpose itself over the same physical locations used by Ingress players. … If two overlapping games – say, a techno-thriller mystery and a Dance Dance Revolution-esque flash mob – require players to show up at the same times and places, clashes of personality are bound to ensue.

Now multiply that scenario by a dozen, a hundred, or even a thousand. The beauty of AR is that an infinite series of digital experiences can be overlain atop the same physical place, but that will sometimes prove to be its bane as well. Like loquacious moviegoers, the way in which some people enjoy one augmented experience in a place may be inherently disruptive to someone else’s ability to appreciate a different digital experience in the same place.

It’s also easy to see how the owners of the physical real estate in question could take issue with (or, if they’re savvy, profit from) crowds of players using the space to play invisible games. There are already several businesses, and even churches. on both sides of the fence with Pokemon GO.

This is probably one reason Niantic prefers to locate its content on public land–although, as I’ve written, that will soon raise its own share of questions about the limits of First Amendment protections when augmenting public spaces.

We’ve also already seen run-ins between Ingress players and police officers understandably perplexed by what seems to non-players like odd behavior. At least one player gained notoriety after he was detained for loitering outside a police station to play the game. Other law enforcement agencies soon had similar Ingress-related experiences. At least one Pokemon GO player has likewise already been questioned by police, and law enforcement officers around the world are warning gamers not to play at police stations.

AR games raise myriad other concerns as well, including decreased employee productivitytrespass, players stumbling across crime scenescriminals targeting players, and risks to minors. (Of course, there are upsides as well–including introducing couch potatoes to exercise.) Perhaps the most obvious, and likely the most common, drawback of AR gaming, though, is the risk of personal injury. Until smart eyewear becomes commonplace, the only means players will have to access augmented worlds are their mobile devices. Wandering through the physical world while staring through a phone screen is a recipe for running into things.

Does this mean AR games should be avoided, or even banned?  By no means. As with every innovation before them, society will adapt. It remains to be seen, however, precisely where we’ll draw the lines of propriety and legality around the use of such games. That’s an ongoing task in which I, as a lawyer, look forward to participating.

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Are Virtual Reality Headsets Priced Too High For Average Consumers?

Virtual Reality Headsets

Early data is starting to come in that Virtual Reality Headsets are priced too high for the average consumer. A Context Virtual Reality study focused on European consumers is showing that::

  • 37% of people would prefer paying nothing for a headset
  • 21% would pay under £100 ($129 USD)
  • 35% would pay between £100 and £200 ($129 USD – $259 USD)

That leaves only about 7% of European consumers who would pay above $259 USD for a Virtual Reality Headset.  This is coming on the heels of another report showing HTC has only sold 100,000 Vive devices to date.

While consumer desires for lower VR headset price points might bode well for Samsung Gear, Cardboard and eventually Google’s DayDream device, it shows that higher end headsets from HTC Vive, Oculus and even PlayStation VR will remain niche devices for awhile. This isn’t even factoring in the additional costs of a high-end PC for the Vive and Oculus and PlayStation 4 device for PSVR. (Note: The Verge has a Virtual Reality Headset Buyer’s Guide that you can view here for all device price points and required accessories.)

Though pricing can always be adjusted based on market and consumer demand, the other datapoint from the Context Virtual Reality Study shows that 78% of consumers don’t understand enough about VR and 73% would wait before making any investments.  This seems to be the bigger issue as consumers are currently not seeing the value in either Virtual Reality apps or Virtual Reality headsets.  As we’ve pointed out before in a blog post on Virtual Reality investment, the majority of VR investment has been going to companies creating 360 degree content videos.   These type of videos are not true VR and they are diluting the consumer messaging about what VR can be (and should be).

Until consumers equate VR to more high end and immersive experiences like Google’s Tilt Brush for the HTC Vive, they are going to continue to struggle to see the value in VR as a whole.

More information on the study can be found at IT Portal.

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