Introducing Adtile 360

Nils Forsblom
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360-degree video, which puts the viewer smack dab in the center of the action, opens up a realm of possibilities for brands wanting new ways to reach consumers on mobile. The trick is, how do you design those experiences with minimal hassle so they run in a broad range of environments?

Sure, Facebook and YouTube let you show 360 videos, but only mobile in-app and on their terms. They don’t allow you to reach consumers outside of their own platforms.

Traditionally, if you wanted to run your 360 campaign on tens of thousands of different apps and websites from different publishers, you needed to create different versions of the ad to fit the platforms and code used to build the apps they’ll run in. You can imagine how much that costs - and the quality can be a hit or miss.

Adtile has come up with a better solution. With our new Adtile 360 we let you create 360 videos that run both in app and on mobile web and on any standard mobile format. Adtile 360 is available through our Motion Store, where you create ads based on Adtile-designed templates, eliminating the iteration and experimentation typically involved with building rich media experiences of any kind.

Motion Store templates are built using open web technologies, which working like a self-contained website, allowing your campaign to run seamlessly across multiple apps and platforms, without having to worry about the native code of whatever app it runs in.

Adtile 360 works like this: You create your own virtual reality video using a 360 degree camera (such as Ricoh Theta, Kodak SP360, or Giroptic 360cam) to record footage from every direction at the same time. You then go to the Adtile Motion Store, select a pre-designed template and upload your 360 video. Next, you add your own logo, graphics, and interactive objects—emojis, images and animations that offer additional information or link to other websites or videos—so what you end up with is a unique, one-of-a-kind application like experience, different from any other. That’s it. That’s all you have to do.

You simply request your standard mobile Web and/or MRAID tags, and the Motion Store platform takes care of the rest. You don’t have to worry about whether or not the ad will render on different devices or screen sizes—it will.

And analytics are baked right in. You can go to a campaign dashboard to get detailed information on how well your campaign is performing in real-time. And you can make changes to your ad at any point in the campaign.

What’s more, Adtile 360 videos are fully interactive. You control the viewing position by moving your mobile device around you. It’s like being in the center of the action but instead of moving your head, you are moving the device itself. It’s a virtual reality without the headset.

360 video has never been so smooth. Adtile’s Motion Technology makes sure interactions–such as rotating the device, pitching the device, tilting the device–are as smooth and as seamless as possible, with near-zero latency. Accurate orientation and motion processing are accomplished by combining outputs from at least three sensors: the accelerometer, the gyroscope and the magnetometer, which are embedded directly into Adtile 360 to create a one of a kind motion accuracy, quality and scale not seen before in 360º videos on mobile browsers.

We’ve already tested our 360° video ads on hundreds of devices, debugging our software and ensuring it will work for you. In fact, Adtile 360 currently supports over 600 software and hardware configurations.

With more people moving to mobile, brands need to find inventive ways to enrich the user experience. Adtile 360 sensor-enabled ads will breath new life into your mobile experiences, so you can reach your customers, regardless of what apps they have on their phone.

We are looking into interactive formats beyond 360, VR/AR and livestreaming videos. Adtile 360 is our video technology foundation. It’s just the beginning.

If you want to keep up with the latest developments, follow us on Twitter or send us an email to info@adtile.me .

Mobile 360° videos may be the holy grail

Nils Forsblom
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Mobile 360° videos may be the holy grail

Mobile 360° video is giving viewers a new perspective of what future videos can be like. But the technology is still in its infancy. By overcoming a few technical challenges, like how to create software that can detect gestures and motions with greater accuracy for a more seamless viewer interaction, 360° video has the potential to open the doors to new levels of engagement for app developers, media outlets, advertisers, and most importantly to the consumers.

Before we get into that, let’s cover some background. The appeal of 360° videos (like this one of a dinosaur or this one of the Golden Gate Bridge) is they put you smack in the center of the action. You’re in charge. You can pan around to look up, down, behind you, and discover new details every time you watch a video. The viewer is no longer a passive observer, but actively engaging with the medium.

If you’ve got a headset like the Google Cardboard or Oculus, you can engage by moving your head to pan a scene. If you don’t have a headset and you’re watching from a desktop, you can use your mouse to pan the virtual world. Or, if you are on a smartphone, you can simply rotate, tilt, or otherwise move your device to interact with the 3D world before you — all of that is powered by sensors in the mobile device.

Since this article about “lightweight VR” appeared in VentureBeat last year, 360° videos have gone mainstream. Now, social media titans YouTube and Facebook both offer capabilities to upload and share virtual reality videos with the world at large.

Anyone with the right equipment can create their own videos. You just need a spherical camera rig (outfitted with six or more cameras) to capture what is happening from all directions. Next, you need a software like Stitch that can turn the individual videos into one seamless, panoramic view. And don’t forget to add your own metadata. (Some cameras do this for you automatically, but not all.)

For advertisers, 360° video is a watershed opportunity. Over the years, consumers have been bombarded with so many banner ads, 2D videos, and the like that now it’s almost impossible to get through to them. Overcoming ad desensitization is a growing problem for marketers and 360° video may be the solution. The new medium has huge potential to breath life back into advertising through engagement. Because when a consumer engages with an ad, you know you’ve got their full attention.

Now the question for the advertiser becomes: How do you keep 360° videos interesting? How do you create new interactions that are quirky and stimulating enough to grab and hold a viewer’s attention? The answer: make those interactions application like. That requires overcoming a few major technical challenges.

Hurdle #1: Improving the framework for broad distribution

Right now, distribution on 360° video is not great, because the current formats are not designed for cross devices and browsers. As mentioned, the two leading ways to browse, discover, and view 360° video content are through YouTube and Facebook. Both have limitations. On a desktop computer, for example, only certain browsers support 360° videos. Chrome and Opera are compatible, but Safari and Firefox are not. The perspective controls via the browser (which involve clicking and dragging on the video while it’s active) are also less intuitive and immersive than the headset or motion controls using a mobile device.

Additionally, on a mobile device, you can only view 360° videos on Facebook and YouTube in-app. This makes it difficult to reach a broad range of viewers. It is very difficult to create an app that works perfectly on a vast range of devices and browsers — in fact, it’s impossible due to poor hardware and/or software quality. Apps are always limited to working well in some environments and screen sizes, and not so well in others.

Hurdle #2: Getting better data from motion sensors

When it comes to viewing on a mobile device, another challenge with interactive 360° video is making sure interactions (such as rotating the device, pitching the device, tilting the device, or walking with the device) are as smooth and as seamless as possible, with minimal latency. If you rotate your smartphone to view your virtual world from a different angle, you want the video to move as you move.

When you begin to interact with a 360° video on the level of a game, the quality of motion processing technology becomes paramount. The only way to obtain accurate orientation and motion measures are by combining outputs from at least three sensors: the accelerometer, the gyroscope and the compass. All three come innate in most modern mobile devices. The problem is these sensor readings are often inadequately accurate when used separately and result in poor user interactions.

Hurdle #3: Inventing cool new interactions to engage the viewer

One of the ways brands can make 360° videos more interesting to viewers is to incorporate creative and new types of engagements. For instance, a user might interact with objects in a 360° video that can allow the user to engage in a multitude of distinct scenes and different worlds, creating countless unique experiences. Or, brands can incorporate new types of motions in their experience so that, for example, taking steps in the physical world corresponds to the user stepping through the virtual world. Haptic or multi-dimensional feedback can also be used to guide the user to interact with a 360° video using a particular gesture or in another specified way. Or, the user might be able to interact with the video space using the Air Pencil. The 360° video might even give us a whole new social networking medium. The possibilities are endless and you can come up with lots of ideas just by paying attention to what’s happening in the mobile hardware and VR hardware space.

But the key to developing any new type interactions lies in tapping into the innate sensors in a mobile device to detect a viewer’s motion with a high degrees of accuracy—and then make sure the virtual world responds seamlessly to those actions. All of this requires high quality motion sensor processing framework, machine learning, sophisticated algorithms, and design that are all carefully tied into one beautiful user experience.

We are not there yet, but the future of 360° videos and immersive content is very promising. And it may bring a lot more inspiration to mobile applications and advertising by engaging with consumers in a way that pulls them in, instead of putting them off.

If you want to keep up with the latest developments, follow us on Twitter or send us an email to info@adtile.me .

PS: We are working on something called “360° Motion Video” and “Flightpath” —You’ll hear more from us on that soon!

Galileo meets MEMS

Nils Forsblom
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Adtile Air Pencil

Galileo, father of modern physics, meets MEMS

What does the father of modern physics have to do with the tiny MEMS motion sensors in your smartphone? Plenty. A mathematician known for his pioneering observations of nature, Galileo (1564-1642) was the forefather of much of what we know about motion today.

The ultimate disrupter of his time, Galileo challenged Aristotelian theories people held true for centuries. For example, Aristotle claimed a rock fell to the ground because the two were made of the same element: earth. In contrast, Galileo studied quantifiable entities like time, distance and acceleration to explain what makes objects fall, break, and bend.

Galileo showed that force causes acceleration. On the basis of the law of parabolic fall, Galileo found that bodies fall at a constant acceleration, and that gravity is a constant force. In other words, a constant force does not lead to constant speed but to constant acceleration. He also developed the concept of inertia, which states an object in motion only stops due to friction. A hundred years later, Isaac Newton (1642-1726) built on these ideas to develop his first law of motion.

Later researchers expanded on the discoveries of Galileo—and Newton— to develop mechanical devices like the gyroscope and the accelerometer, instruments that play a critical role in navigation systems. The problem was these early mechanical devices were bulky and expensive. So scientist continued working to make them smaller and smaller.

Today gyroscopes and accelerometers have evolved into tiny devices called MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems). Built on silicon wafers alongside the circuits that control them, these are the smallest machines ever made.

It is pretty amazing to think that some of the MEMs motion sensors today are rooted in the principles of physics discovered centuries ago. Let’s take a look at four motion devices on the smartphone, how they work, and their history.

Gyroscope

If you’ve ever played with a top, you know that a spinning top somehow has the power to stand upright. Without torque to change direction, a spinning wheel will always remain pointed in the same direction. A gyroscope is essentially a spinning top mounted on a gimbal, so the top’s axis is free to orient itself anyway it wants.

The first gyroscope was invented in 1852 by French physicist Leon Foucault to demonstrate the Earth’s rotation. Since our planet rotates, the gyroscope’s axis completes a full rotation once every 24 hours.

Electric motors in the 1800s made it possible for gyroscopes to spin indefinitely. And today, gyroscopes play an essential role in inertial guidance systems on ships and aircraft.

Many types of MEMS gyroscopes exist. Each type has some form of oscillating component for detecting directional change. All MEMs gyroscopes take advantage of the (Coriolis effect)[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coriolis_effect. And typically, the one on your smartphone is a three-axis gyroscope for measuring roll, pitch and yaw.

Accelerometer

Have you ever wondered how your smartphone knows how you are holding it? It uses a device called an accelerometer, which measures g-force. The first accelerometer was invented by George Atwood in 1783.

If you want to know how an accelerometer works, picture a box with a metal ball inside suspended by a spring. If you move the box up, the ball lags behind, stretching the spring. By measuring the force on the spring, you can measure acceleration.

While the MEMs accelerometer in your phone is more complex than the simple ball and spring model, it uses the same fundamental principles. Inside the chip, engineers have created a tiny triple-axis accelerometer out of silicon that measures acceleration in the x, y, and z dimensions, so your phone always knows which way is down.

Magnetometer compass

Used for navigation, the traditional compass has a magnetic needle that points to the North Pole. The earliest compasses were most likely invented by the Chinese in 206 BC and used for fortune telling. Later, compasses were used for navigation so sailing vessels could set their direction without having to rely on the stars.

The magnetometer sensor in your smartphone doesn’t use a magnetic needle. Instead, it uses an analog transducer to create a miniature Hall-effect sensor that detects the Earth’s magnetic field along the x, y and z axis.

The Hall-effect sensor produces voltage proportional to the strength and polarity of the magnetic field along the axis each sensor is directed. The voltage is converted to a digital signal representing the strength of the magnetic field.

The magnetometer is enclosed in a small electronic chip that often incorporates a three-axis accelerometer to determine which way is down.

GPS

The GPS receiver on your smartphone is a more modern invention—and technically it is not a sensor—but it works with the motion sensors in your device to more accurately determine movement and location.

Originally created by the US for military purposes, GPS (global positioning system) is a space-based navigation system made up of 24 satellites that circle the earth twice a day in a precise orbit. The satellites are spaced so that at least four are visible from any point on Earth at a given time.

Your GPS receiver requires data from at least four satellites to fix a position. It uses three satellites for trilateration to reduce your possible location to two points. The timing code from a fourth satellite is used to narrow down your location to one of those two points. (GPS satellites, by the way, tell very accurate time.)

Working together, these three MEMS sensors (gyroscope, accelerometer, compass) and the GPS receiver in your smartphone provide accurate data to determine navigation and a data on range of different user motions. Next time, you use your mobile device, you can thank Galileo, who opened up humankind to a new age of discovery and ultimately contributed to much of the smartphone’s innate intelligence.

Introducing Project Galileo.

The Adtile Technologies team is planning to release a cutting-edge motion processing dev kit (Project Galileo) that will allow developers to create new interactions and applications. Please sign up for more updates.

Light Painting Enters The 21st Century

Nils Forsblom
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Image: Gjon Mili/The Life Picture Collection/Getty Images

Is it possible to reimagine Picasso and Mili’s work with a smartphone? Light painting enters the 21st Century.

The year is 1949. In a darkened room in Vallauris, South of France, Pablo Picasso is working with a small electric light. The 68-year-old artist’s moves are swift and athletic as he draws lines, curves and shapes on a canvas of thin air. Those images of pure light were captured by the photographer Gjon Mili for Life Magazine.

Mili, an engineer by trade, made a name for himself with light paintings and photoflash photography. Previously, he had attached tiny flashlights to the boots of an ice-skater and recorded trailing lines of light as she waltzed through the air. He showed that work to Picasso who agreed to an experiment of combining art with Mili’s technical expertise.

So fascinated was Picasso by the results of their initial work together he agreed to five further sessions with Mili. The photos generated by those sessions equated to 30 images, all preserved by the camera. Featured were familiar Picasso motifs: bulls, centaurs and Greek profiles.

Capturing light and movement through art was nothing new. It has been repeated in various forms since 1889, but Picasso’s pictures, which appeared in Life, were iconic and transformative. (You can read more about the history of light painting photography here.)

At the time, Mili was using cutting edge equipment and technique to construct his photos. His work of capturing motion on film was a combination of high-tech, skill and finely honed talent.

Image: Gjon Mili/The Life Picture Collection/Getty Images

Today, you do not have to be a Mili to create these types of images. Adtile Technologies, a company known for its sensor-enabled Motion Ads, has made it possible to capture motion with a smartphone so that anyone of any skill can create these highly technical images.

Introducing the Air Pencil

Today, we’re introducing something very cool that has never been done before—we call it the Air Pencil. Air Pencil (now in beta) that lets anyone capture freeform movement in space using their mobile device. How does it work? Think of your phone as Picasso’s electric light. Move, swing, glide the smartphone through the air and your motions will be captured, not on camera, but on screen.

Additionally, while Picasso and Mili’s light paintings were in 2D, Air Pencil lets you capture motion in 3D, as beautiful lines, curves and shapes you can literally move through and explore in ways never imagined possible in the time of Picasso.

Air Pencil is intuitively easy to use. It is a lightweight app that runs on a mobile web browser. Since it is a web app, the majority of the code powering it runs on a remote server. All you need to get started is a URL.

Air Pencil — a whole new creative freedom.

When you initiate the app, you’ll see a screen with a three-axis helper and a small red position indicator at the origin. On the bottom left and right of this screen are joysticks for panning and zooming. These items are all within the web-browser’s viewport, which you can think of as your virtual camera in the 3D space.

Sketch abstractions. Out of thin air.

To begin recording your movements, simply press down on any point in the the screen and move your smartphone through the air. Release the screen to stop or pause your recording. Want to share your work? You can easily send a recorded 3D space file to anyone as a link in a text message or put it on social media.

Behind-the-scenes technology

As you can imagine, creating an app like Air Pencil requires serious technical engineering. You have to be able to capture three-dimensional motion with a high degree of accuracy, whether the user is swinging the phone in a large elaborate swirl or drawing a tiny circle.

To do this, the Air Pencil taps into a smartphone’s native micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) — namely the three-axis magnetometer, three-axis accelerometer and three-axis gyroscope. It then calls on sophisticated machine algorithms to reliably infer the precise movements of the user based on sensor data.

Adtile Air Pencil

Where would you use such an application? The answer: education, art, and collaboration. For example, you might use Air Pencil in a physics class to teach students about flight dynamics, or how objects move through space. As a collaboration tool, several users can draw independently with different colors and then combine those images on screen. Finally, the application has huge potential in the art world as the images you create can be shown on any size screen.

An art-inspired technology

Picasso and Mili were the inspiration for Air Pencil. Picasso, the father of modern art, liked to experiment with a plethora of media. And Mili brought a high tech element into that instinctive world or art.

The truth is, I wanted to go back in time and recreate the flashlight and camera technique with a phone and see what people would do with it. What kind of art will they create?

At a basic, intrinsic level, art inspires technical innovation. The two are inextricably combined. In fact, I got the inspiration for Adtile in 2013 when I was visiting the Alexander Calder exhibit at the LACMA. At the exhibit, quotes from the sculptor Calder lined the walls: “Just as one can compose colors, or forms, so one can compose motions.”

That was my aha moment. That quote influenced me to start working on sensory-enabled motions for mobile devices and turn Adtile into a motion technology company.

Today I rely on artists daily to benchmark all of our products at Adtile. Our work is driven by Picasso, Calder, James Turrell, Mark Rothko, Anish Kapoor, Andy Warhol, Julian Schnabel and more. The work of these artists are an endless pool for innovation.

When you get down to it, art is about taking something technologically or emotionally complex and turning it into something simple, functional and beautiful. It’s also about making people smile. Or as Calder said, “Above all be happy.” And that is what I hope to do with Air Pencil, make people smile.

Were You Aware of All These Sensors In Your Smartphone?

Nils Forsblom
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Image: © 2015 Adtile Technologies

Smartphones have gone through an incredible evolution in the last decade. We are moving to an era where our smartphones are becoming more like personal assistants, monitoring our behavior, tracking our movements and anticipating our needs. A large part of this evolution is enabled by sensor technology.

Sensors bring intelligence and awareness to our smartphones. Today’s mobile devices are packed with nearly 14 sensors that produce raw data on motion, location and the environment around us. This is made possible by the use of micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS). MEMS are mechanical systems built into tiny semiconductor chips.

Let’s take a look at some of the major sensors in the typical smartphone.

Magnetometer and GPS

Your smartphone comes equipped with a magnetometer, otherwise known as a compass. With its ability to sense magnetic fields, this MEMS device detects compass heading relative to the Earth’s magnetic north pole. In conjunction with GPS, it determines your phone’s location. GPS is another type of sensor in your mobile device. It relies on satellites to determine location. Originally developed for the military, GPS was made available for everyone in the 1980s.

Gyroscope

A three-axis gyroscope determines if your device is twisted in any direction. Using rotational force it measures angular velocity around three axes. The absolute orientation of your phone, represented as the angles yaw, pitch, and roll, is detected by a combination of the accelerometer, compass, and gyroscope.

Accelerometer

A three-axis accelerometer in your smartphone reports on how fast your phone is moving in any given linear direction. The accelerometer has the ability to detect gravity as a static acceleration as well as dynamic acceleration applied to the phone. There are various types of MEMS accelerometer hardware available, such as microscopic piezoelectric crystals that change voltage under stress when vibrations occur, or differential capacitance caused by the movement of a silicon structure. The magnetometer, GPS, gyroscope and accelerometer on your phone all work together to create the perfect navigation system.

Proximity sensor

Comprised of an infrared LED and an IR light detector, a proximity sensor detects how close the phone is to an outside object, such as your ear. This sensing is done to reduce display power consumption while you’re on a call by turning off the LCD backlight. It also disables the touch screen to avoid inadvertent touches by the cheek.

Barometer

More advanced smartphones have a chip that can detect atmospheric pressure. But to use it, the phone needs to pull down local weather data for a baseline figure on barometric pressure. What’s more, conditions inside a building, such as heating or air-conditioning flows, can affect the sensor’s accuracy. Barometers are best used in combination with other tools, including GPS, Wi-Fi and beacons.

Other sensors

Your smartphone also has an ambient light sensor to adjust brightness levels in dark environments. A fingerprint sensor can enable secure device and website authentication as well as mobile payment. Add to that list, microphone and camera sensors. Samsung’s Galaxy S6 even has an integrated heart rate monitor.

Sensors raise the consciousness of our smartphones. With mobile sensors becoming smaller and more sophisticated—and new types of sensors coming onto market—what we’re seeing today is only the beginning in the era of self-aware devices. More is waiting around the corner.

Machine Learning And The Future of Mobile Devices

Nils Forsblom
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Machine Learning

Machine learning will play a potent role in the future of mobile devices

As we talked about in a previous blog post, your smartphone is replete with dozens of sensors that collect all kinds of information on three dimensional device movement, positioning and the outside environment. But most of the data those sensors collect comes in a raw form. It has no practical meaning on its own. And that is where machine learning steps in.

What exactly is machine learning? The field is immense with lots of different categories and subdivisions. But let’s start with a common, layman’s definition: Machine learning is a discipline of artificial intelligence that focuses on the development of algorithms that learn from and make decisions based on data.

Or, as machine learning pioneer Arthur Samuel defined it, machine learning is a “field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed.”

You may not be aware of it, but almost everything that happens online is driven by a type of machine learning algorithm. When you do a search, machine learning chooses the results you get. Amazon uses machine learning to recommend products. Netflix uses it to recommend movies. And Facebook and Twitter use it to choose which posts to show you.

Additionally, both Google Now and Siri rely on machine learning to recognize speech input and respond quickly to user commands. And facial recognition software Affectiva also uses machine learning.

Machine learning plays a big part in how intelligent our mobile devices are and how they interact with us. We believe machine learning will play an even bigger role in the future of mobile devices — and that is some of what we are working on at Adtile.

As machine learning algorithms become increasingly sophisticated, they will change how our mobile devices interact with us — our mobile devices will recognize gesture, motions and movement to higher degrees of accuracy and respond to our needs in ways we never imagined possible.

Machine learning algorithms have the potential to give personality to our mobile apps and devices. In future blog posts, we’ll talk more about how machine learning and sensors are working together to improve people’s lives, their health and their mobile experiences.