Virtual reality without the geeky headsets

Amy Castor
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Virtual reality without the geeky headsets

When most people hear the words “virtual reality,” they think of a headset like Oculus VR or Samsung Gear VR. But while headsets or goggles offer a great immersive experience, they do not scale well beyond gaming or watching movies. Let’s face it, headsets attract too much attention outside of the home. And, as Google Glass taught us, people aren’t that keen to wear computers on their heads. So where does that leave virtual reality?

Lightweight VR for everyday use

Virtual reality can exist on smartphones without the headset. You might call it lightweight VR. And it offers practical real-world advantages, says Nils Forsblom, the CEO of San Diego-based Adtile Technologies. His company is working on a VR framework that lets you enter a virtual reality world simply by looking at the screen on your phone and interact with that world through motion.

Lightweight VR works something like this. You hold the phone up and away from your face and you see a window into another world. You are also a part of that world. Adtile uses a phone’s innate sensors to calculate your precise movements so that the 3D image on your smartphone screen moves with you. Walking, turning left or right, or pointing the phone in a different direction changes the view on the phone with a minuscule amount of latency.

Real-world applications

You won’t get the full immersive experience with lightweight VR you would with a headset, but you won’t need it either. What you get instead is convenience. You can use the technology to navigate any type of complex space. Imagine the advantages to using interactive 3D to help you find your way through a confusing airport? A lightweight VR experience might guide you to your departure gate, the baggage claim, or the nearest restaurant if you happen to have a long layover.

VR can also help you explore places were you are not. If you are planning an upcoming trip to Hawaii, for example, you could use lightweight VR to explore the hotel lobby, check out your room or venture out into the pool area. VR can tell you a lot more about a place or even an object than a simple video or a high res photo can.

Lightweight VR has other, potentially even more interesting applications when you consider combining it with Apple’s iBeacon, a technology that detects how close your smartphone is to a certain location. iBeacon can send out messages to you based on your location, inviting you to explore something in VR — or even putting you on the right path, if you are trying to get somewhere important.

Not without challenges

Of course, developing even a lightweight VR for the smartphone has its challenges. You have to be able to detect movements with a high degree of accuracy and translate those into smooth motion on the screen. This requires sophisticated algorithms able to capture the scale of short, medium- and long-range motions, everything from gestures (tilting, shaking the phone) to arm length movements to how many steps you are taking and how fast in real time.

Immersive VR has a tendency to generate heat and use up battery power in a phone. But as opposed to gaming, where you are using the phone for hours at a time, lightweight VR is intended more for casual use. You are using it for a few minutes at a time to learn about an area or observe an object. Also, lightweight VR doesn’t use up nearly as much bandwidth on your phone. According to Forsblom, the HTML5-based technology he is working on is only 450 KB in file size. Eventually he plans to release the Adtile SDK to app developers who want to deliver their own lightweight VR experiences.

VR is still in its infancy. We are hearing a lot about different headsets and goggles, even cardboard ones like the one from Google, where you slip your phone into the headset. But it seems there is a potential for a type of VR we can all use everyday, without the clunky headsets—a simpler VR that simply helps us get around.

This article was originally published on Venturebeat →

Adtile introduces Mobile VR

Leslie Van Every
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Press Release, March 17th, 2015

Adtile Technologies today announced its new mobile software plat­form, Adtile VR, which allows users to experience virtual reality on smartphones without the need for special goggles or any other exter­nal hardware. This new software creates an easy-to-use, smooth and natural experience for real-time motion simulations. By incorporating Adtile VR into native or web-based apps users can walk through a digital space, turning left and right, as well as looking up and down, and with the use of touch controls interact.

“With mobile being the largest computing medium of all times, VR capabilities need to be mainstream and additional hardware makes scaling hard. Since Adtile Mobile VR does not rely on any ancillary equipment, the application possibilities are endless.”

“Adtile VR is a composition of physics, math, computer science and art that goes far beyond advertising. It is new creative medium for smartphones allowing deve­lopers can go truly beyond the edges of the phone for the first time.”

– Nils Forsblom, CEO and founder, Adtile Technologies

There are three distinct ranges of motion for mobile devices—short, medium, and long range. Adtile Technologies developed sophisticated algorithms using smartphone sensor technology to accurately capture the correct scale and sensitivity of the motion. This new breed of tech­nology is called Space Sensing Mobile VR Technology.

Adtile VR’s blend of short-range, arms-length, gestures with medium to long-range motions allow for accurate physical movement in virtual space. Therefore users can have a real connection with surroundings and content on their smartphones. Space Sensing Mobile VR Tech­nology can be used in many different and varied industries including publishing, fashion, real estate, retail, entertainment, automotive, science and more.

Adtile VR

About Adtile Technologies

Located in San Diego, California, Adtile is a pioneer and developer of motion engagement and virtual reality technology for smartphones and tablets. We are working with leading technology companies and Fortune 500 brands. Adtile is on a quest to transform mobile adverti­sing. We believe the best way to revolutionize mobile ads is to create an entirely new design that embraces the needs of mobile users by making it part of the user experience. We’ve created a mobile-first advertising solution from the ground up—challenging assumptions about how ads work and redesigning it for a world on the move. More information is available at: www.adtile.me.

The future of smartphones

Amy Castor
wrote this on

The MIT researchers' wireless chemical sensor
Above: New sensor can transmit information on hazardous chemicals or food spoilage to a smartphone. Image credit: MIT/Melanie Gonick

A combination of sensors, machine learning and virtual reality

Imagine you walk by an Italian restaurant and your phone knows exactly where you are. It knows you love gnocchi and you even traveled to Milan recently. It offers you not simply a coupon, but an immersive experience where you get to explore the restaurant virtually to see what people are eating and visit the kitchen to see how food is prepared. Tempting?

Over the last decade, smartphones have evolved from simply phones to portable entertainment centers. We use them to text, watch movies, and keep ourselves occupied. Now smartphones are about to evolve further. Sensor data combined with machine learning and virtual reality will usher in new wave of engagement, convenience, and utility. Interestingly enough, much of that technology is sitting inside our phones right now.

Your smartphone is smarter than you think

Most people don’t realize how smart their phones actually are or how much they already know about us. Unlike laptops, modern smart­phones are packed with dozens of tiny sensors that enable them to collect all kinds of data on who we are, what we are doing, and the world around us.

Accelerometers and gyroscopes are the sensors we hear about the most. These have the potential to collect data on us even when we are not actively using the phone. But most smartphones also have an image sensor, touch sensor, proximity sensor, and up to 30 other sensors, including GPS for location.

New sensors are being developed all the time. Each one opens the door to new possibilities. Chemists at MIT recently developed a smartphone sensor that detects when food has gone bad. Imagine using your phone to check if the rotisserie chicken you brought home three days ago is still safe?

Sensors make our phones more aware. But sensors themselves only collect the raw data. Putting that data to use requires machine learning. By searching for patterns in the data, intelligent apps can figure out whether you are tall or short, big or little, and even guess at gender. It may sound spooky at first, but not so when you consider how useful apps will become.

Apps of the future think on their own

The most intelligent apps will use sensor-based data to provide contextual information. We have seen examples of this already in first-generation fitness apps that track how fast and how far you are walking or running. And many apps, such as Opentable, Uber, and Yelp, use GPS as their main component to serve information based on our location.

You may already be familiar with Apple’s iBeacon technology, tiny wireless transmitters used widely by retailers, airports and even the NBL and NFL to deliver finely tuned content to your Smartphone based on your location.

Some apps today are even crowdsourcing sensor data for traffic and weather forecasts. Consider how Google gathers smartphone GPS data, and sends it back to users as accurate route-time estimates. Another company, PressureNet is working to pull barometer readings from smartphones to improve weather and climate predictions.

But tomorrow’s mobile apps will employ sensor information to a far greater extent. Theses apps will pick up on patterns and routines and learn a user’s preferences over time. “Anyone can collect data. Finding an automated way to create the meaning of that data is paramount,” says Nils Forsblom, the founder of Adtile, a company working on new ways to use machine learning and virtual reality for marketing.

Future apps will usher in a new level of convenience. Instead of asking for input, they will anticipate your needs. Your phone might send calls to voice mail if you are driving or switch into Airplane Mode when it senses a plane moving on the tarmac. An app might hear people talking in a conference room and ask, ‘Do you want to record the meeting?’

Virtual reality adds a new level of creative engagement

But what happens when you mix sensor data and machine learning with virtual reality? Mobile devices may one day deliver immersive experiences, bringing inanimate objects to life and letting you do things like walk around a sculpture or explore the latest exhibit at a museum.

“The phones of the future might look something like Oculus VR meets iPhone—without the headset,” says Forsblom. Oculus is a headset that delivers virtual reality to the smartphone, but Forsblom predicts smart­phones will deliver immersive experiences without the headsets.

Advertising may no longer interrupt whatever you are doing or reading, but take the form of an active engagement. You might use your phone as an extension of yourself to walk through a car show­room. If you see something you like, you can use gestures and motions to explore a car in more detail, get more information, or sign up to a test drive of a vehicle.

“In the future, smartphone hardware and software will work in seamless harmony. Future mobile devices will be a mix of invisible apps for utility, entertainment, virtual reality, and gaming. Mobile virtual reality will be the ultimate input-output ‘device’ and creative medium,” says Forsblom.

The next few years will likely see dozens of new apps that use sensors in all kinds of mind-boggling ways. Our smartphones will become more like a personal assistant that understand our preferences, habits, our likes, and dislikes. And virtual reality has the potential to take that one step further, allowing us to explore places and objects without having to get off the sofa—now that’s convenience.

This article was originally published on Venturebeat →

Adtile introduces FireMotion

Leslie Van Every
wrote this on

Adtile FireMotion

Press Release, February 11th, 2015

Adtile Technologies today announced mobile advertising industry’s first multi-sensor mobile engagement platform, FireMotion. This new mobile ad platform works like a lightweight operating system bringing motion technology to mobile advertising. As part of FireMotion, Adtile Technologies partnered with Passworks and Two Tap, two leading companies in the mobile commerce space, to ensure a seamless purchasing and reward experience on smartphones.

FireMotion’s proprietary technology accurately tracks the phone’s positioning and velocity, which allows the phone to function as an extension of the person. FireMotion gives advertisers a new set of creative tools to use in mobile advertising campaigns.

“People find most mobile ads are ineffective or annoyingly disruptive. That is because most of those ads are designed for desktop and don’t take advantage of the incredible sensory hardware already in smartphones.”

“My goal at Adtile is to help brands create the kind of advertising that creates human connections. I want to change the quality of mobile advertising and deliver fully integrated approach.”

—Nils Forsblom, CEO and founder, Adtile Technologies

The response from ads using Adtile’s FireMotion has been very positive. The initial reports show over 30% engagement rate and an average of 23 seconds of participation time with over 6% click-through rate, which are some of the highest rates in the online and mobile advertising industry.

Although higher click-through rates are essential for mobile ads, Adtile Technologies wanted to remove any barriers to purchase by partnering with Passworks and Two Tap to create one of the simplest mobile engagement options available today. FireMotion ads can seamlessly connect to a universal shopping cart, Passbook, Google Wallet or Payments. A person who interacts with a FireMotion mobile ad can purchase the product in the ad instead of going to a different webpage, keeping the entire purchase and payment process extremely simple.

“The launch of Adtile’s new platform is a great compass for established advertisers who want to take full advantage of mobile capabilities, and Two Tap is very excited to power e-commerce interactions on the new platform.”

“FireMotion’s integrated approach will offer new and rich tools to build experiences that are vital to brands that want to stand out in the bland mobile banner ad-space.”

—Raz Roman, co-founder, Two Tap

Instead of spending a lot of time and money developing new sensor enabled mobile ads, FireMotion ad builds will be available through the password protected Adtile Motion Store. This online store will feature unique motion ad interactions that can be used by brands and agencies by simply incorporating design and storytelling into the flow. These result-proven ad builds incorporate very specific interface design and developer guidelines for quality and constraint purposes. All FireMotion ads must be approved by Adtile Technologies for quality assurance. Brands can also work directly with Adtile Technologies to create specific designed ads as well.

About Adtile Technologies

Located in San Diego, California, Adtile is a pioneer and developer of multi-sensor advertising technology for smartphones and tablets. We are working with leading technology companies and Fortune 500 brands. Adtile is on a quest to transform mobile advertising. We believe the best way to revolutionize mobile ads is to create an entirely new design that embraces the needs of mobile users by making it part of the user experience. We’ve created a mobile-first advertising solution from the ground up—challenging assumptions about how ads work and redesigning it for a world on the move.

More information is available at: www.adtile.me.

Delightful Connection

Leslie Van Every
wrote this on

This week, we will focus on a feature many of us use daily, but almost never talk about in great detail—Bluetooth Low Energy. Bluetooth LE’s proximity sensing capabilities have been gaining some buzz recently—not as part of the smartphone, but in brick and mortar retail stores thanks to beacons.

Small enough to attach to a wall or counter-top, beacons transmit messages directly to a phone using low-energy Bluetooth connections. As you approach the beacon, your phone can be activated to send highly targeted content to your phone, such as special offers or coupons from stores a few feet away. Beacon technology can turn idle window shopping into a sale with a well-timed mobile reward. Apple Pay or Google Wallet can then be used to “close the loop” in terms of attribution.

There are a few apps that use these features already, such as Launch Here, which makes it possible to link apps to places using iBeacons or Beecon, which helps you to manage, detect and range iBeacons around you. At the same time marketers are also finding new ways to incorporate this technology into various use cases.

But beacons are just one of the ways Adtile incorporates proximity sensing capabilities into its solutions. We’re also working on sensor arrays to bring the Motion Ads to life in a whole new way.