Let’s face it; artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and visual technology are slowly transitioning into the future of all business and day to day endeavors we take on in our lives. However, AI and AR have been around for much longer than you may be aware of. Self-driving cars and cancer detection through AI and computer vision may seem like the future; but in reality, these are concepts which have been around for years and only advancing each day. Luckily, Dashmote is here to disclose the newest trends you may not be aware of in the AI/AR/Computer Vision and Visual Tech sphere. These are trends that every marketer, tech-feign, business owner, and entrepreneur should know about if they plan on staying up to date and making money in 2017. So read up and let us know your thoughts:
As addressed by Evan Nisselson at the LDV Vision Summit this May in New York City, cameras will eventually be everywhere. What Evan refers to as “The Internet of Eyes” will encompass more than the Internet of Things with a goal of visually communicating and understanding each other better. With 90% of our daily interaction being visual; the reason why it’s only becoming such a mainstream and fundamental element to the business world now is because of real time access, computer vision, AI, machine learning, and cloud infrastructure that allows us to scale as quickly as we want. Things have changed drastically--requiring us to change the way we think drastically.
So what do we mean by visual technology? Don’t be shy to wonder, this is a trending topic in the business, tech, and marketing world but there is not always a concrete explanation behind it. According to Nisselson, visual tech is defined by any technology that captures, analyzes, filters, monetizes, displays visual data. Why is this critical to our lives and how we conduct business? Nisselson gives a practical example of the importance of images and visual concepts. We can look at a couple of pictures, it takes a few minutes. However, computers can look at millions and billions of photos in seconds--combining computing with visual aspects is not only an opportunity for many business, but it revolutionizes all businesses.
1. Augmented Reality via Facebook
Recently, Mark Zuckerberg revealed that Facebook would adopt its first ubiquitous augmented reality platform during its F8 Conference in California. If you think this is just an attempt of following in Snapchat’s footsteps, you may be a little off in terms of its capabilities. The foundation of the AR camera platforms consists of two apps: AR Studio and Frame Studio. Zuckerberg states that “the first augmented reality platform that becomes mainstream isn’t going to be glasses, it’s going to be cameras.” This theory goes hand in hand with Nisselson’s presentation on “the internet of eyes”. As Evan mentions, the most important feature on a phone today is the camera. The data we capture now and organize and filter, as well as the data of having cameras everywhere will exponentially grow, every inanimate object will have something of a camera, it will take visual data and deliver signals to us for better understanding.
With a similar concept to Snapchat, Facebook takes it a few steps further. The Facebook Camera Feature is part of a Camera Effects platform which intends to be compatible with future augmented reality hardware--i.e. glasses for instance. The tools are designed for artists and developers, and allow for users to instill AR effects through templates and other functions. All users can access Facebook’s Frame Studio to upload any images and then add image filters and overlays that will appear in Facebook Camera to their friends or a Page’s fans. Facebook ensures that the user receives credit for the image as your name appears on the Frame’s preview and News Feed post. Zuckerberg also revealed how information cards will work within Facebook’s AR platform, showing information relevant to a given object or landmark. User’s will be able to save time by knowing which stores have promotions and items of interest on sale prior to even leaving their homes.
Good news for developers--Facebook allows you guys to apply for access to the closed beta of the platform’s AR Studio Tool. Facebook takes recognition software to the next level by allowing developers to use specific location, object recognition, and depth detection in order to most effectively create their effects. Zuckerberg explains that this gives them the ability “to make informational tools like overlaid suggestions from experts on businesses, interactive games and mind-bending art that would be impossible to create in the real world.”
As Nisselson mentioned at the LDV Summit, in order to have VR and AR work, we need content. Content is still king. However, VR and AR content is extremely difficult to create. Luckily, here are the three categories of AR content we are glad to share with you according to Mark Zuckerberg:
Augmenting objects in the physical world with additional information like putting directions atop the street or a restaurant’s reviews on their storefront
Layering new virtual objects onto reality like a chess board or working television
Enhancing objects that are already there with extra effects, like giving you a glitter beard or adding a castle turret to your apartment building
Zuckerberg explains that the previous computing platforms were entirely digital and accessible to anyone connected to the internet. Thus, the advantage in this is that Facebook doesn’t need to build everything by itself. This developer platform allows for many more consumers, developers, etc to utilize and reappropriate AR in much bigger and more advanced experiences.
In Nisselson’s “Internet of Eyes” presentation, he expands briefly on what he describes as the “satellite selfie.” He implies that the grieving process will soon commence as we accept the gradual death of the selfie stick. He explains that eventually you will be able to touch a button on your phone and take a satellite image of yourself from above--there will be no need to carry cameras anymore. In fact, DSLR’s trend of megapixels has already made the transition to camera phones as well--3D will be the final nail in the coffin of 99% of DSLR’s. An example of this is the Google phone, which is called Pixel--reiterating this concept. With 12.3 MP, 1.55 μm for capturing shots in any light, and f/2.0 aperture for bright, even photos--essentially this is a DSLR camera. Not to mention the cherry on top, Google made sure users would have unlimited storage for all their photos and videos as well as 7 hours of battery life in 15 minutes of charging. Say goodbye to big, heavy cameras, fancier cameras meaning shorter battery life, and frustration when your memory card is full.
Nisselson touches base on the importance of visuals and photos in general. There is so much data in a photo through it’s different layers, such as; location, colors, destination, where the satellite images are--which, in essence, help us be healthier, make our businesses evolve, and allow us to get closer with customers. Nisselson emphasizes that visual technology is fundamental to computers. “Without any eyes on that computer, he says, a robot doesn’t know what’s out there.” Likewise, he says that a camera without computer visuals, AI, and machine learning has absolutely no value.
Fei-Fei Li, one of the presenters at LDV Summit, and Director of the Stanford University Artificial Intelligence Lab and Chief Scientist AI/ML at Google Cloud states: “The only path to build intelligent machines is to enable it with powerful visual intelligence, just like what animals did in evolution. While many are searching for the ‘killer app’ of vision, I’d say, vision is the ‘killer app’ of AI and computing.”
3. Amazon: Integration of Online/Offline AR
With Amazon arguably being the most powerful retailer online, it’s not entirely shocking that the company recently bought over Whole Foods for over $13 billion. According to Forbes, the grocery business is enormous, about $675 billion per year in the U.S. alone. However, this isn’t the first time that Amazon tries to flourish in the food industry. Amazon has struggled for some time now to scale with brick-and-mortar bookstores and grocery stores. Currently only open to Amazon employees in the Beta program, Amazon has opened a convenience store in one of its many offices in Seattle which does not require cashiers. They claim that their checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by a combination of AI technology, computer vision, sensors, and deep learning that automatically detects when and what products shoppers remove or return to the shelves. The “Just Walk Out Technology” keeps track of what you take in a virtual cart, and when finished, the customer can freely just leave the store without visiting a cashier. Reminiscent of the Uber app, all that is required is an Amazon account, a smartphone, and the Amazon Go app. If this trial run of the automated checkout process becomes successful enough, more than 3.4 million employed cashiers in the United States could face serious unemployment issues, as every other retailer would attempt to integrate it. You can watch the video on Amazon Go here.
However, what can be observed from Amazon is their realization and domination of combining online and real-life retail as one concept, rather than separating as two entities. More retailers need to understand that consumers do not consider the two as separate channels, they reflect one another and must work together in order to help a business thrive to the fullest. With Amazon opening its fifth physical bookstore in Chicago, as well as an additional five upcoming locations--there is no telling where they plan to take the grocery industry as well. They are dominating the retail and online sphere with AI and AR capabilities as well as making the availability of their merchandise almost effortless.
Now, Amazon is integrating visual technology with appliances and furniture. Although this is a not an entirely brand new concept, Amazon’s plan seems to intentionally expand to businesses and opportunities with physical locations--instead of solely relying on its web-based venture for revenue. The popular home improvement store, Lowe’s, has already incorporated a virtual space called Holoroom--which uses an HTC Vive to show customers how to use its products for home improvement projects. They have also recently introduced a new app which uses AR to help customers navigate through their stores.
IKEA also released an AR app about four years ago which allows you to use a tablet or smartphone to virtually overlay or superimpose their furniture into various rooms of your home to get a virtual feel for how it would look prior to purchasing. Amazon, however, would like to take it one small step further. They intend to use AR and VR technology to help consumers make purchase decisions by showing them what products would look like in their homes. The company is exploring the idea of opening stores that sell furniture and home appliances, that serve as showcases where consumers can see the items in person. The significance of their strategy lies in the fact that many consumers are reluctant to purchase things like refrigerators, large cabinets, ovens, etc. over the internet without seeing them first. Amazon attempts to conventionalize this by using forms of AR and VR to allow customers to virtually see how couches, tables, stoves, etc will look in their homes before buying.
Visual technology and visual computing is becoming the number one trend in the market because of society’s constant desire to capture EVERYTHING in their lives and visually share it. From food to outfits, to vacation spots, to tagging who they are with; this desire comes with a purpose of essentially serving to communicate. This visually communication is becoming the primary source of our communication--thus, spreading to much more than business, healthcare, shopping, driving, etc.
As LDV successfully reminded many of us, incorporating and utilizing visual insights and technology isn’t the difficult part; the challenge lays with unraveling and comprehending the valuable insights and signals that photos and visuals provide us by availing the correct AI algorithms. There are constantly new trends emerging that come and go, but visual technology and visual computing will not be budging anytime soon. If anything, this is only the beginning of the future as we know it; implying both--business sectors and the human race.