Category Archives: Android Development

Break the Bank with the Top In-App Purchase Tactics for 2022

As seasoned app developers, we are experienced in building a wide variety of apps spanning many categories. Every app is different and begets a unique answer to the all important question: What’s the best way to monetize?

App Figures recently published a study which showed only 5.9% of Apple App Store apps are paid, compared to a paltry 3.7% on Google Play. Thus, the freemium model reigns supreme—according to app sales statistics, 48.2% of all mobile app revenue derives from in-app purchases.

When creating an in-app purchase ecosystem, many psychological and practical considerations must be evaluated. Below, please find our best practices for setting in-app purchase prices in 2022.

BEHAVIORAL ECONOMICS

Behavioral economics is a method of economic analysis that applies psychological insights into human behavior to explain economic decision-making. Creating an in-app purchase ecosystem begins with understanding and introducing the psychological factors which incentivize users to make purchases. For example, the $0.99 pricing model banks on users perceiving items that cost $1.99 to be closer to a $1 price point than $2. Reducing whole dollar prices by one cent is a psychological tactic proven to be effective for both in-app purchases and beyond.

Another psychological pricing tactic is to remove the dollar sign or local currency symbol from the IAP storefront and employ a purchasable in-app currency required to purchase IAPs. By removing the association with real money, users see the value of each option on a lower stakes scale. Furthermore, in-app currencies can play a major role in your retention strategy.

ANCHORING

Anchoring is a cognitive bias where users privilege an initial piece of information when making purchasing decisions. Generally, this applies to prices—app developers create a first price point as an anchoring reference, then slash it to provide users with value. For example, an in-app purchase might be advertised at $4.99, then slashed to $1.99 (60% off) for a daily deal. When users see the value in relation to the initial price point, they become more incentivized to buy.

Anchoring also relates to the presentation of pricing. We have all seen bundles and subscriptions present their value in relation to higher pricing tiers. For example, an annual subscription that’s $20/year, but advertised as a $36 value in relation to a monthly subscription price of $2.99/month. In order for your users to understand the value of a purchase, you have to hammer the point home through UI design.

OPTIMIZE YOUR UI

UI is very important when it comes to presenting your in-app purchases. A well-designed monetization strategy can be made moot by insufficient UI design. Users should always be 1-2 taps away from the IAP storefront where they can make purchases. The prices and discounts of each pricing option should be clearly delineated on the storefront.

Furthermore, make sure you are putting your best foot forward with how you present your prices. Anchoring increases the appeal of in-app purchases, but in order for the user to understand the deal, you have to highlight the value in your UI design by advertising it front and center in your IAP UI.

OFFER A VARIETY OF CHOICES

There are a number of IAPs trending across apps. In order to target the widest variety of potential buyers, we recommend offering a variety of options. Here are a few commonly employed options:

  • BUNDLES: Offer your IAPs either à la carte or as a bundle for a discount. Users are always more inclined to make a bigger purchase when they understand they are receiving an increased value.
  • AD FREE: Offer an ad-free experience to your users. This is one of the more common tactics and die-hard users will often be willing to pay to get rid of the ad experience.
  • SPECIAL OFFERS: Limited-time offers with major discounts are far more likely to attract user attention. Special offers create a feeling of scarcity as well as instill the feeling of urgency. Consider employing holiday specials and sending personalized push notifications to promote them.
  • MYSTERY BOX: Many apps offer mystery boxes—bundles often offered for cheap that contain a random assortment of IAPs. Users may elect to take a chance and purchase in hopes of receiving a major reward.

While offering users a variety of choices for IAPs is key, having too many choices can cause analysis paralysis and be stultifying to users. Analysis paralysis is when users are hesitant to make an in-app purchase because they’ve been given too many options. Restrict your IAPs to the most appealing options to make decisions easy for your users.

TEST, TEST, TEST

As with any component of app development, testing is the key to understanding your audience and refining your techniques. We recommend testing your app with a random user group and taking their feedback as well as having them fill out a questionnaire. A/B Testing, or split-run testing, consists of testing two different user groups with two different app experiences. A/B testing enables app developers to see how users react to different experiences and to evaluate what tactics are most user-effective.

There are many tactics to help incentivize users to make that big step and invest capital in an app. Savvy developers innovate every day—stay tuned on the latest trends to keep your in-app purchase strategy on the cutting edge.

HOW DICOM BECAME THE STANDARD IN MEDICAL IMAGING TECHNOLOGY

Building applications for medical technology projects often requires extra attention from software developers. From adhering to security and privacy standards to learning new technologies and working with specialized file formats—developers coming in fresh must do a fair amount of due diligence to get acclimated in the space. Passing sensitive information between systems requires adherence to extra security measures—standards like HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) are designed to protect the security of health information.

When dealing with medical images and data, one international standard rises above the rest: DICOM. There are hundreds of thousands of medical imaging devices in use—and DICOM has emerged as the most widely used healthcare messaging standards and file formats in the world. Billions of DICOM images are currently employed for clinical care.

What is DICOM?

DICOM stands for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine. It’s the international file format and communications standard for medical images and related information, implemented in nearly every radiology, cardiology, imaging, and radiotherapy devices such as X-rays, CT scans, MRI, ultrasound, and more. It’s also finding increasing adoption in fields such as ophthalmology and dentistry.

DICOM groups information into data sets. Similar to how JPEGs often include embedded tags to identify or describe the image, DICOM files include patient ID to ensure that the image retains the necessary identification and is never separated from it. The bulk of images are single frames, but the attribute can also contain multiple frames, allowing for storage of Cineloops.

The History of DICOM

DICOM was developed by the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association (NEMA) in the 1980s. Technologies such as CT scans and other advanced imaging technologies made it evident that computing would play an increasingly major role in the future of clinical work. The ACR and NEMA sought a standard method for transferring images and associated information between devices from different vendors.

The first standard covering point-to-point image communication was created in 1985 and initially titled ACR-NEMA 300. A second version was subsequently released in 1988, finding increased adoption among vendors. The first large-scale deployment of ACR-NEMA 300 was in 1992 by the U.S. Army and Air Force. In 1993, the third iteration of the standard was released—and it was officially named DICOM. While the latest version of DICOM is still 3.0, it has received constant maintenance and updates since 1993.

Why Is DICOM Important?

DICOM enables the interoperability of systems used to manage workflows as well as produce, store, share, display, query, process, retrieve and print medical images. By conforming to a common standard, DICOM enables medical professionals to share data between thousands of different medical imaging devices across the world. Physicians use DICOM to access images and reports to diagnose and interpret information from any number of devices.

DICOM creates a universal format for physicians to access medical imaging files, enabling high-performance review whenever images are viewed. In addition, it ensures that patient and image-specific information is properly stored by employing an internal tag system.

DICOM has few disadvantages. Some pathologists perceive the header tags to be a major flaw. Some tags are optional, while others are mandatory. The additional tags can lead to inconsistency or incorrect data. It also makes DICOM files 5% larger than their .tiff counterparts.

The Future

The future of DICOM remains bright. While no file format or communications standard is perfect, DICOM offers unparalleled cross-vendor interoperability. Any application developer working in the medical technology field would be wise to take the time to comprehensively understand it in order to optimize their projects.

Cloud-Powered Microdroid Expands Possibilities for Android App Developers

Android developers have a lot to look forward to in 2021, 2022, and beyond. Blockchain may decentralize how Android apps are developed, Flutter will see increased adoption for cross-platform development, and we expect big strides in AR and VR for the platform. Among the top trends in Android development, one potential innovation has caught the attention of savvy app developers: Microdroid.

Android developers and blogs were astir earlier this year when Google engineer Jiyong Park announced via the Android Open Source Project that they are working on a new, minimal Android-based Linux image called Microdroid.

Details about the project are scant, but it’s widely believed that Microdroid will essentially be a lighter version of the Android system image designed to function on virtual machines. Google is preparing for a world in which even smartphone OS’s require a stripped-down version that can be run through the cloud.

Working from a truncated Linux, Microdroid will pull the system image from the device (tablet or phone), creating a simulated environment accessible from any remote device. It has the ability to enable a world in which users can access Google Play and any Android app using any device.

What does this mean for developers?

Microdroid will open up new possibilities for Android apps in embedded and IoT spaces which require potentially automated management and a contained virtual machine which can mitigate security risks. Cloud gaming, cloud computing—even smartphones with all features stored in the cloudare possible. Although we will have to wait and see what big plans Google has for Microdroid and how Android developers capitalize on it, at this juncture, it’s looking like the shift to the cloud may entail major changes in how we interact with our devices. App developers are keen to keep their eyes and heads in the cloud.

Although no timeline for release has been revealed yet, we expect more on Microdroid with the announcement of Android 12.

Learn How Google Bests ARKit with Android’s ARCore

Previously, we covered the strengths of ARKit 4 in our blog Learn How Apple Tightened Their Grip on the AR Market with the Release of ARKit 4. This week, we will explore all that Android’s ARCore has to offer.

All signs point toward continued growth in the Augmented Reality space. As the latest generations of devices are equipped with enhanced hardware and camera features, applications employing AR have seen increasing adoption. While ARCore represents a breakthrough for the Android platform, it is not Google’s first endeavor into building an AR platform.

HISTORY OF GOOGLE AR

In summer 2014, Google launched their first AR platform Project Tango.

Project Tango received consistent updates, but never achieved mass adoption. Tango’s functionality was limited to three devices which could run it, including the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro which ultimately suffered from numerous issues. While it was ahead of its time, it didn’t receive the level of hype ARKit did. In March 2018, Google announced that it will no longer support Project Tango and that the tech titan will be continuing AR Development with ARCore.

ARCORE

ARCore uses three main technologies to integrate virtual content with the world through the camera:

  • Motion tracking
  • Environmental understanding
  • Light estimation

It tracks the position of the device as it moves and gradually builds its own understanding of the real world. As of now, ARCore is available for development on the following devices:

ARCORE VS. ARKIT

ARCore and ARKit have quite a bit in common. They are both compatible with Unity. They both feature a similar level of capability for sensing changes in lighting and accessing motion sensors. When it comes to mapping, ARCore is ahead of ARKit. ARCore has access to a larger dataset which boosts both the speed and quality of mapping achieved through the collection of 3D environmental information. ARKit cannot store as much local condition data and information. ARCore can also support cross-platform development—meaning you can build ARCore applications for iOS devices, while ARKit is exclusively compatible with iOS devices.

The main cons of ARCore in relation to ARKit mainly have to do with their adoption. In 2019, ARKit was on 650 million devices while there were only 400 million ARCore-enabled devices. ARKit yields 4,000+ results on GitHub while ARCore only contains 1,400+. Ultimately, iOS devices are superior to software-driven Android devices—particularly given the TrueDepth Camera—meaning that AR applications will run better on iOS devices regardless of what platform they are on.

OVERALL

It is safe to say that ARCore is the more robust platform for AR development; however, ARKit is the most popular and most widely usable AR platform. We recommend spending time determining the exact level of usability you need, as well as the demographics of your target audience.

For supplementary reading, check out this great rundown of the best ARCore apps of 2021 from Tom’s Guide.

LiDAR: The Next Revolutionary Technology and What You Need to Know

In an era of rapid technological growth, certain technologies, such as artificial intelligence and the internet of things, have received mass adoption and become household names. One up-and-coming technology that has the potential to reach that level of adoption is LiDAR.

WHAT IS LIDAR?

LiDAR, or light detection and ranging, is a popular remote sensing method for measuring the exact distance of an object on the earth’s surface. Initially used in the 1960s, LiDAR has gradually received increasing adoption, particularly after the creation of GPS in the 1980s. It became a common technology for deriving precise geospatial measurements.

LiDAR requires three components: the scanner, laser, and GPS receiver. The scanner sends a pulsed laser to the GPS receiver to calculate an object’s variable distances from the earth surface. The laser emits light which travels to the ground and reflects off things like buildings, tree branches and more. The reflected light energy then returns to the LiDAR sensor where the associated information is recorded. In combination with photodetector and optics, it allows for an ultra-precise distance detection and topographical data.

WHY IS LIDAR IMPORTANT?

As we covered in our rundown of the iPhone 12, new iOS devices come equipped with a brand new LiDAR scanner. LiDAR now enters the hands of consumers who have Apple’s new generation of devices, enabling enhanced functionality and major opportunities for app developers. The proliferation of LiDAR signals toward the technology finding mass adoption and household name status.

There are two different types of LiDAR systems: Terrestrial and Airborne. Airborne LiDAR are installed on drones or helicopters for deriving an exact measurement of distance, while Terrestrial LiDAR systems are installed on moving vehicles to collect pinpoints. Terrestrial LiDAR systems are often used to monitor highways and have been employed by autonomous cars for years, while airborne LiDAR are commonly used in environmental applications and gathering topographical data.

With the future in mind, here are the top LiDAR trends to look out for moving forward:

SUPERCHARGING APPLE DEVICES

LiDAR enhances the camera on Apple devices significantly. Auto-focus is quicker and more effective on those devices. Moreover, it supercharges AR applications by greatly enhancing the speed and quality of a camera’s ability to track the location of people as well as place objects.

One of the major apps that received a functionality boost from LiDAR is Apple’s free Measure app, which can measure distance, dimensions, and even whether an object is level. The measurements determined by the app are significantly more accurate with the new LiDAR scanner, capable of replacing physical rulers, tape measures, and spirit levels.

Microsoft’s Seeing AI application is designed for the visually impaired to navigate their environment, however, LiDAR takes it to the next level. In conjunction with artificial intelligence, LiDAR enables the application to read text, identify products and colors, and describe people, scenes, and objects that appear in the viewfinder.

BIG INVESTMENTS BY AUTOMOTIVE COMPANIES

LiDAR plays a major role in autonomous vehicles, relying on a terrestrial LiDAR system to help them self-navigate. In 2018, reports suggest that the automotive segment acquired a business share of 90 percent. With self-driving cars inching toward mass adoption, expect to see major investments in LiDAR by automotive companies in 2021 and beyond.

As automotive companies look to make major investments in LiDAR, including Volkswagen’s recent investment in Aeva, many LiDAR companies are competing to create the go-to LiDAR system for automotive companies. Check out this great article by Wired detailing the potential for this bubble to burst.

LIDAR DRIVING ENVIRONMENTAL APPLICATIONS

Beyond commercial applications and the automotive industry, LiDAR is gradually seeing increased adoption for geoscience applications. The environmental segment of the LiDAR market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 32% through 2025. LiDAR is vital to geoscience applications for creating accurate and high-quality 3D data to study ecosystems of various wildlife species.

One of the main environmental uses of LiDAR is for soliciting topographic information on landscapes. Topographic LiDAR is expected to see a growth rate of over 25% over the coming years. These systems can see through forest canopy to produce accurate 3D models of landscapes necessary to create contours, digital terrain models, digital surface models and more.

CONCLUSION

In March 2020, after the first LiDAR scanner became available in the iPad Pro, The Verge put it perfectly when they said that the new LiDAR sensor is an AR hardware solution in search of software. While LiDAR has gradually found increasing usage, it is still a powerful new technology with burgeoning commercial usage. Enterprising app developers are looking for new ways to use it to empower consumers and businesses alike.

For supplementary viewing on the inner workings of the technology, check out this great introduction below, courtesy of Neon Science.

Top Mobile Marketing Trends Driving Success in 2021

Mobile app marketing is an elusive and constantly evolving field. For mobile app developers, getting new users to install games is relatively cheap at just $1.47 per user, while retaining them is much more difficult. It costs on average $43.88 to prompt a customer to make an in-app purchase according to Liftoff. An effective advertising strategy will make or break your UI—and your bank. In 2019, in-game ads made up 17% of all revenue. By 2024, that number is expected to triple.

2020 was a year that saw drastic changes in lifestyle—mobile app users were no exception. What trends are driving app developers to refine their advertising and development tactics in 2021? Check out our rundown below.

Real Time Bidding

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In-app bidding is an advanced advertising method enabling mobile publishers to sell their ad inventory in an automated auction. The technology is not new—it’s been around since 2015 when it was primarily used on a desktop. However, over the past few years, both publishers and advertisers have benefited from in app-bidding, eschewing the traditional waterfall method.

In-app bidding enables publishers to sell their ad space at auction. Advertisers simultaneously bid against one another. The dense competition enables a higher price (CPM) for publishers. For advertisers, bidding decreases fragmentation between demand sources since they can bid on many at once. In the traditional waterfall method, ad mediation platforms prioritize ad networks they’ve worked with in the past before passing it on the premium ad networks. In-app bidding changes the game by enabling publishers to offer their inventory to auctions which include a much wider swath of advertisers beyond the traditional waterfall.

Bidding benefits all parties. App publishers see increased demand for ad inventory, advertisers access more inventory, and app users see more relevant ads. In 2021, many expect in-app bidding to gain more mainstream popularity. Check out this great rundown by AdExchanger for more information on this exciting new trend.

Rewarded Ads Still King

rewarded ad

We have long championed rewarded ads on the Mystic Media blog. Rewarded ads offer in-game rewards to users who voluntarily choose to view an ad. Everyone wins—users get tangible rewards for their time, publishers get advertising revenue and advertisers get valuable impressions.

App usage data from 2021 only increases our enthusiasm for the format. 71% of mobile gamers desire the ability to choose whether or not to view an ad. 31% of gamers said rewarded video prompted them to browse for products within a month of seeing them. Leyi Games implemented rewarded video and improved player retention while bringing in an additional $1.5 million US.

Facebook’s 2020 report showed that gamers find rewarded ads to be the least disruptive ad format, leading to longer gameplay sessions and more opportunities for content discovery.

Playable Ads

Playable ads have emerged as one of the foremost employed advertising tactics for mobile games. Playable ads enable users to sample gameplay by interacting with the ad. After a snippet of gameplay, the ad transitions into a call to action to install the game.

The benefits are obvious. If the game is fun and absorbing to the viewer, it has a much better chance of getting installed. By putting the audience in the driver’s seat, playable ads drive increased retention rates and  a larger number of high lifetime value (LTV) players.

Check out three examples of impactful playable ads compiled by Shuttlerock.

Short Ads, Big Appeal

As we are bombarded with more and more media on a daily basis, finding a way to deliver a concise message while cutting through the clutter can be exceptionally difficult. However, recent research from MAGNA, IPG Media Lab, and Snap Inc. shows it may be well worth it.

Studies show short-form video ads drive nearly identical brand preference and purchase intent as 15 second ads. Whereas short form ads were predominantly employed to grow awareness, marketers now understand that longer ads are perceived by the user as more intrusive, and they can get just as much ROI out of shorter and less expensive content.

Check out the graph below, breaking down the efficacy of 6 second vs. 15 second ads via Business of Apps.

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Conclusion

Mobile advertisers need to think big picture in terms of both their target customer and how they format their ads to best engage their audience. While the trends we outlined are currently in the zeitgeist, ultimately what matters most is engaging app users with effective content that delivers a valuable message without intruding on their experience on the app.

For supplementary reading on mobile marketing, check out our blog on the Top Mobile Ad Platforms You Need to Know for 2021

Learn More About Triggering Augmented Reality Experiences with AR Markers

We expect a continued increase in the utilization of AR in 2021. The iPhone 12 contains LiDAR technology, which enables the use of ARKit 4, greatly enhancing the possibilities for developers. When creating an AR application, developers must consider a variety of methods for triggering the experience and answer several questions before determining what approach will best facilitate the creation of a digital world for their users. For example, what content will be displayed? Where will this content be placed, and in what context will the user see it?

Markerless AR can best be used when the user needs to control the placement of the AR object. For example, the IKEA Place app allows the user to place furniture in their home to see how it fits.

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Location-based AR roots an AR experience to a physical space in the world, as we explored previously in our blog Learn How Apple Tightened Their Hold on the AR Market with the Release of ARKit 4. ARKit 4 introduces Location Anchors, which enable developers to set virtual content in specific geographic coordinates (latitude, longitude, and altitude). To provide more accuracy than location alone, location anchors also use the device’s camera to capture landmarks and match them with a localization map downloaded from Apple Maps. Location anchors greatly enhance the potential for location-based AR; however, the possibilities are limited within the 50 cities which Apple has enabled them.

Marker-based AR remains the most popular method among app developers. When an application needs to know precisely what the user is looking at, accept no substitute. In marker-based AR, 3D AR models are generated using a specific marker, which triggers the display of virtual information. There are a variety of AR markers that can trigger this information, each with its own pros and cons. Below, please find our rundown of the most popular types of AR markers.

FRAMEMARKERS

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The most popular AR marker is a framemarker, or border marker. It’s usually a 2D image printed on a piece of paper with a prominent border. During the tracking phase, the device will search for the exterior border in order to determine the real marker within.

Framemarkers are similar to QR Codes in that they are codes printed on images that require handheld devices to scan, however, they trigger AR experiences, whereas QR codes redirect the user to a web page. Framemarkers are a straightforward and effective solution.

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Framemarkers are particularly popular in advertising applications. Absolut Vodka’s Absolute Truth application enabled users to scan a framemarker on a label of their bottle to generate a slew of more information, including recipes and ads.

GameDevDad on Youtube offers a full tutorial of how to create framemarkers from scratch using Vuforia Augmented Reality SDK below.

 

NFT MARKERS

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NFT, or Natural Feature Tracking, enable camera’s to trigger an AR experience without borders. The camera will take an image, such as the one above, and distill down it’s visual properties as below.

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The result of processing the features can generate AR, as below.

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The quality and stability of these can oscillate based on the framework employed. For this reason, they are less frequently used than border markers, but function as a more visually subtle alternative. A scavenger hunt or a game employing AR might hide key information in NFT markers.

Treasury Wine Estates Living Wine Labels app, displayed above, tracks the natural features of the labels of wine bottles to create an AR experience which tells the story of their products.

OBJECT MARKERS

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The  toy car above has been converted into an object data field using Vuforia Object Scanner.

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Advancements in technology have enabled mobile devices to solve the issue of SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping). The device camera can extract information in-real time, and use it to place a virtual object in it. In some frameworks, objects can become 3D-markers. Vuforia Object Scanner is one such framework, creating object data files that can be used in applications for targets. Virtual Reality Pop offers a great rundown on the best object recognition frameworks for AR.

RFID TAGS

Although RFID Tags are primarily used for short distance wireless communication and contact free payment, they can be used to trigger local-based virtual information.

While RFID Tags are not  widely employed, several researchers have written articles about the potential usages for RFID and AR. Researchers at the ARATLab at the National University of Singapore have combined augmented reality and RFID for the assembly of objects with embedded RFID tags, showing people how to properly assemble the parts, as demonstrated in the video below.

SPEECH MARKERS

Speech can also be used as a non-visual AR marker. The most common application for this would be for AR glasses or a smart windshield that displays information through the screen requested by the user via vocal commands.

CONCLUSION

Think like a user—it’s a staple coda for app developers and no less relevant in crafting AR experiences. Each AR trigger offers unique pros and cons. We hope this has helped you decide what is best equipped for your application.

In our next article, we will explore the innovation at the heart of AIoT, the intersection of AI and the Internet of Things.

How to Leverage AR to Boost Sales and Enhance the Retail Experience

The global market for VR and AR in retail will reach $1.6 billion by 2025 according to research conducted by Goldman Sachs. Even after years of growing popularity, effectively employed Augmented Reality experiences feel to the end-user about as explicitly futuristic as any experience created by popular technology.

We have covered the many applications for AR as an indoor positioning mechanism on the Mystic MediaTM blog, but when it comes to retail, applications for AR are providing real revenue boosts and increased conversion rates.

Augmented Reality (AR) History

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While working as an associate professor at Harvard University, computer scientist Ivan Sutherland, aka the “Father of Computer Graphics”, created an AR head-mounted display system which constituted the first AR technology in 1968. In the proceeding decades, AR visual displays gained traction in universities, companies, and national agencies as a way to superimpose vital information on physical environments, showing great promise for applications for aviation, military, and industrial purposes.

Fast forward to 2016, the sensational launch of Pokemon GO changed the game for AR. Within one month, Pokemon GO reached 45 million users, showing there is mainstream demand for original and compelling AR experiences.

Cross-Promotions

Several big brands took advantage of Pokemon GO’s success through cross-promotions. McDonald’s paid for Niantic to turn 3,000 Japan locations into gyms and PokeStops, a partnership that has recently endedStarbucks took advantage of Pokemon GO’s success as well by enabling certain locations to function as PokeStops and gyms, and offering a special Pokemon GO Frappucino.

One of the ways retailers can enter into the AR game without investing heavily in technology is to cross-promote with an existing application.

In 2018, Walmart launched a partnership with Jurassic World’s AR game: Jurassic World Alive. The game is similar to Pokemon GO, using a newly accessible Google Maps API to let players search for virtual dinosaurs and items on a map, as well as battle other players. Players can enter select Walmart locations to access exclusive items.

Digital-Physical Hybrid Experiences

The visual augmentation produced by AR transforms physical spaces by leveraging the power of computer-generated graphics, an aesthetic punch-up proven to increase foot traffic. While some retailers are capitalizing on these hybrid experiences through cross-promotions, others are creating their own hybrid experiential marketing events.

Foot Locker developed an AR app that used geolocation to create a scavenger hunt in Los Angeles, leading customers to the location where they could purchase a pair of LeBron 16 King Court Purple shoes. Within two hours of launching the app, the shoes sold out.

AR also has proven potential to help stores create hybrid experiences through indoor navigation. Users can access an augmented view of the store through their phones, which makes in-store navigation easy. Users scan visual markers, recognized by Apple’s ARKitGoogle’s ARCore, and other AR SDKs, to establish their position, and AR indoor navigation applications can offer specific directions to their desired product.

Help Consumers Make Informed Choices

Ikea Place Screenshots

AR is commonly employed to enrich consumers’ understanding of potential purchases and prompt them to buy. For example, the “IKEA Place” app allows shoppers to see IKEA products in a superimposed graphics environment. IKEA boasts the app gives shoppers 98% accuracy in buying decisions.

Converse employs a similar application, the “Converse Sampler App”, which enables users to view what a shoe will look like on their feet through their device’s camera. The application increases customer confidence, helping them make the decision to purchase.

Treasury Wines Estates enhances the consumer experience with “Living Wine Labels”: AR labels that bring the history of the vineyard to life and provide users with supplementary information, including the history of the vineyard the wine came from and tasting notes.

Conclusion

AR enables striking visuals that captivate customers. As a burgeoning tool, AR enables companies to get creative and build innovative experiences that capture their customers’ imagination. Retailers who leverage AR will seize an advantage both in the short term and in the long term as the technology continues to grow and evolve.

How Wearables Help Fight Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic forced lifestyle changes to the global population unlike any other event in recent history. As companies like Amazon and Zoom reap major profits from increased demand for online ordering and teleconferencing, wearable app developers are taking a particular interest in how they can do their part to help quell the pandemic.

It’s easy to take a wearable device that tracks key health metrics and market it as helping to detect Covid-19. It’s much harder to create a device with a proven value in helping prevent the spread of the disease. Here’s our rundown of what you need to know about how wearables can help fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

WEARABLES CANNOT DIAGNOSE COVID-19

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In an ideal world, your smartwatch could analyze your body on a molecular level to detect whether you have Covid-19. Technology has not evolved, yet, to where this is possible. The only way to diagnose Covid-19 is through a test administered by a health-care professional.

Fortunately, there are several ways in which wearables can help fight the spread of Covid-19 that do not involve direct diagnosis.

WEARABLES CAN DETECT EARLY SYMPTOMS

Wearables make it easy for their users to monitor general health conditions and deviations from their norms. Although wearables cannot detect the difference between the flu and Covid-19, they can collect data which indicates early symptoms of an illness and warns their users.

Fitbit CEO James Park hopes the device will eventually sense these changes in health data and instruct users to quarantine 1-3 days before symptoms start and to follow-up for confirmation with a coronavirus test.

Oura Ring

Oura Ring

Another big player in the Covid-19 wearables space is the Oura ring. The Oura ring is a smart ring that tracks activity, sleep, temperature, pulse, and heart rate. Since the outbreak, it has emerged as a major tool for detecting early symptoms like increased resting heart rate. Most notably, NBA players in Orlando, Florida use the device to monitor their health and detect early symptoms.

WEARABLES HELP KEEP FRONTLINE HEALTH WORKERS SAFE

John A. Rogers, a biomedical engineer at Northwestern University, has been developing a wearable patch that attaches to the user’s throat and helps monitor coughing and respiratory symptoms like shortness of breath.

Wearable patch developed by John A. Rogers of Northwestern University

Wearable patch developed by John A. Rogers of Northwestern University

One of the planned uses of this wearable is to protect frontline health-care workers by detecting if they contract the virus and become sick.

In addition, wearables can help monitor symptoms in hospitalized patients. This will reduce the chance of spreading the infection and exposing infected patients to workers.

ASYMPTOMATIC CARRIERS ARE ANOTHER STORY

Although wearables can collect and identify health data that points toward potential infections, recognizing asymptomatic carriers of the Coronavirus is another story. When carriers show no symptoms, the only way to determine if they have been infected is through a test.

TAKEAWAY

Unless there are significant technological leaps in Covid-19 testing, wearables will not be able to detect infections directly. However, they can help catch symptoms early to prevent the spread. Their ability to assist the pandemic represents a major growth sector. We look forward to seeing how wearable developers will innovate to protect the health of users and our future.

The Future of Indoor GPS Part 5: Inside AR’s Potential to Dominate the Indoor Positioning Space

In the previous installment of our blog series on indoor positioning, we explored how RFID Tags are finding traction in the indoor positioning space. This week, we will examine the potential for AR Indoor Positioning to receive mass adoption.

When Pokemon Go accrued 550 million installs and made $470 million in revenues in 2016, AR became a household name technology. The release of ARKit and ARCore significantly enhanced the ability for mobile app developers to create popular AR apps. However, since Pokemon Go’s explosive release, no application has brought AR technology to the forefront of the public conversation.

When it comes to indoor positioning technology, AR has major growth potential. GPS is the most prevalent technology navigation space, but it cannot provide accurate positioning within buildings. GPS can be accurate in large buildings such as airports, but it fails to locate floor number and more specifics. Where GPS fails, AR-based indoor positioning systems can flourish.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

AR indoor navigation consists of three modules: Mapping, Positioning, and Rendering.

via Mobi Dev

via Mobi Dev

Mapping: creates a map of an indoor space to make a route.

Rendering: manages the design of the AR content as displayed to the user.

Positioning: is the most complex module. There’s no accurate way of using the technology available within the device to determine the precise location of users indoors, including the exact floor.

AR-based indoor positioning solves that problem by using Visual Markers, or AR Markers, to establish the users’ position. Visual markers are recognized by Apple’s ARKit, Google’s ARCore, and other AR SDKs.  When the user scans that marker, it can identify exactly where the user is and provide them with a navigation interface. The further the user is from the last visual marker, the less accurate their location information becomes. In order to maintain accuracy, developers recommend placing visual markers every 50 meters.

Whereas beacon-based indoor positioning technologies can become expensive quickly, running $10-20 per beacon with a working range of around 10-100 meters of accuracy, AR visual markers are the more precise and cost-effective solution with an accuracy threshold down to within millimeters.

Via View AR

Via View AR

CHALLENGES

Performance can decline when more markers have been into an AR-based VPS because all markers must be checked to find a match. If the application is set up for a small building where 10-20 markers are required, it is not an issue. If it’s a chain of supermarkets requiring thousands of visual markers across a city, it becomes more challenging.

Luckily, GPS can help determine the building where the user is located, limiting the number of visual markers the application will ping. Innovators in the AR-based indoor positioning space are using hybrid approaches like this to maximize precision and scale of AR positioning technologies.

CONCLUSION

AR-based indoor navigation has had few cases and requires further technical development before it can roll out on a large scale, but all technological evidence indicates that it will be one of the major indoor positioning technologies of the future.

This entry concludes our blog series on Indoor Positioning, we hope you enjoyed and learned from it! In case you missed it, check out our past entries:

The Future of Indoor GPS Part 1: Top Indoor Positioning Technologies

The Future of Indoor GPS Part 2: Bluetooth 5.1′s Angle of Arrival Ups the Ante for BLE Beacons

The Future of Indoor GPS Part 3: The Broadening Appeal of Ultra Wideband

The Future of Indoor GPS Part 4: Read the Room with RFID Tags