Category Archives: iOS Development

Learn More About Triggering Augmented Reality Experiences with AR Markers

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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.

Learn How Apple Tightened Their Hold on the AR Market with the Release of ARKit 4

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Since the explosive launch of Pokemon Go, AR technologies have vastly improved. Our review of the iPhone 12 concluded that as Apple continues to optimize its hardware, AR will become more prominent in both applications and marketing.

At the 2020 WWDC in June, Apple announced ARKit 4, their latest iteration of the famed augmented reality platform. ARKit 4 features some vast improvements that help Apple tighten their hold on the AR market.

LOCATION ANCHORS

ARKit 4 introduces location anchors, which allow developers to set virtual content in specific geographic coordinates (latitude, longitude, and altitude). When rebuilding the data backend for Apple Maps, Apple collected camera and 3D LiDAR data from city streets across the globe. ARKit downloads the virtual map surrounding your device from the cloud and matches it with the device’s feed to determine your location. The kicker is: all processing happens using machine learning within the device, so your camera feed stays put.

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Devices with an A12 chip or later, can run Geo-tracking; however, location anchors require Apple to have mapped the area previously. As of now, they are supported in over 50 cities in the U.S. As the availability of compatible devices increases and Apple continues to expand its mapping project, location anchors will find increased usage.

DEPTH API

ARKit’s new Depth API harnesses the LiDAR scanner available on iPad Pro and iPhone 12 devices to introduce advanced scene understanding and enhanced pixel depth information in AR applications. When combined with 3D mesh data derived from Scene Geometry, which creates a 3D matrix of readings of the environment, the Depth API vastly improves virtual object occlusion features. The result is the instant placement of digital objects and seamless blending with their physical surroundings.

FACE TRACKING

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Face tracking has found an exceptional application in Memojis, which enables fun AR experiences for devices with a TrueDepth camera. ARKit 4 expands support to devices without a camera that has at least an A12. TrueDepth cameras can now leverage ARKit 4 to track up to three faces at once, providing many fun potential applications for Memojis.

VIDEO MATERIALS WITH REALITYKIT

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ARKit 4 also brings with it RealityKit, which adds support for applying video textures and materials to AR experiences. For example, developers will be able to place a virtual television on a wall, complete with realistic attributes, including light emission, texture roughness, and even audio. Consequentially, AR developers can develop even more immersive and realistic experiences for their users.

CONCLUSION

iOS and Android are competing for supremacy when it comes to AR development. While the two companies’ goals and research overlap, Apple has a major leg up on Google in its massive base of high-end devices and its ability to imbue them with the necessary structure sensors like TrueDepth and LiDAR.

ARKit has been the biggest AR development platform since it hit the market in 2017. ARKit 4 provides the technical capabilities tools for innovators and creative thinkers to build a new world of virtual integration.

How App Developers Can Leverage the iPhone 12 to Maximize Their Apps

iPhone 12

On October 23rd, four brand new iPhone 12 models were released to retailers. As the manufacturer of the most popular smartphone model in the world, whenever Apple delivers a new device its front-page news. Mobile app developers looking to capitalize on new devices must stay abreast of the latest technologies, how they empower applications, and what they signal about where the future of app development is headed.

With that in mind, here is everything app developers need to know about the latest iPhone models.

BIG DEVELOPMENTS FOR AUGMENTED REALITY

LiDAR is a method for measuring distances (ranging) by illuminating the target with laser light and measuring the reflection with a sensor

LiDAR is a method for measuring distances (ranging) by illuminating the target with laser light and measuring the reflection with a sensor

On a camera level, the iPhone 12 includes significant advancements. It is the first phone to record and edit Dolby Vision with HDR. What’s more, Apple has enhanced the iPhone’s LiDAR sensor capabilities with a third telephoto lens.

The opportunities for app developers are significant. For AR developers, this is a breakthrough—enhanced LiDAR on the iPhone 12 means a broad market will have access to enhanced depth perception, enabling smoother AR object placement. The LIDAR sensor produces a 6x increase in autofocus speed in low light settings.

The potential use cases are vast. An enterprise-level application could leverage the enhanced camera to show the inner workings of a complex machine and provide solutions. Dimly lit rooms can now house AR objects, such as Christmas decorations. The iPhone 12 provides a platform for AR developers to count on a growing market of app users to do much more with less light, and scan rooms with more detail.

The iPhone 12’s enhanced LiDAR Scanner will enable iOS app developers to employ Apple’s ARKit 4 to attain enhanced depth information through a brand-new Depth API. ARKit 4 also introduces location anchors, which enable developers to place AR experiences at a specific point in the world in their iPhone and iPad apps.

With iPhone 12, Apple sends a clear message to app developers: AR is on the rise.

ALL IPHONE 12 MODELS SUPPORT 5G

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The entire iPhone 12 family of devices supports 5G with both sub-6GHz and mmWave networks. When iPhone 12 devices leverage 5G with the Apple A14 bionic chip, it enables them to integrate with IoT devices, and perform on ML algorithms at a much higher level.

5G poses an endless array of possibilities for app developers—from enhanced UX, more accurate GPS, improved video apps, and more. 5G will reduce dependency on hardware as app data is stored in the cloud with faster transfer speeds. In addition, it will enable even more potential innovation for AR applications.

5G represents a new frontier for app developers, IoT, and much more. Major carriers have been rolling out 5G networks over the past few years, but access points remain primarily in major cities. Regardless, 5G will gradually become the norm over the course of the next few years and this will expand the playing field for app developers.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Beyond the bells and whistles, the iPhone 12 sends a very clear message about what app developers can anticipate will have the biggest impact on the future of app development: AR and 5G. Applications employing these technologies will have massive potential to evolve as the iPhone 12 and its successors become the norm and older devices are phased out.

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

AR REtail Cover Image

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

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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

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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

iOS 14 Revamps the OS While Android 11 Offers Minor Improvements

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Every time Apple announces a new device or OS, it is a cultural event for both consumers and app developers. When Apple announced iOS 14 in June 2020 during the WWDC 2020 keynote, few anticipated it would be one of the biggest iOS updates to date. With a host of new features and UI enhancements, the release of iOS 14  has become one of the most hotly anticipated moments of this year in technology.

On the other side of the OS war, Android has released four developer previews in 2020 of their latest OS offering: Android 11. Currently, Android 11 is currently available in a beta release ahead of its target launch in August/September.

The two biggest OS titans have effectively upped the ante on their rivalry. Here is a summary everything you need to know on how they stack up against one another:

iOS 14

iOS 14 is a larger step forward for iOS than Android 11 is for Android. In relation to iOS 13, it revamps the iOS to become smarter and more user-friendly while streamlining group conversations.

While iMessage remains the most popular messaging platform on the market, competitors like WhatsApp, Discord and Signal include a variety of features previously unavailable on iOS devices. iOS 14 closes the gap with its competitors, offering a host of UI enhancements specifically targeting group conversations—one of the most popular features on iMessage:

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  • Pinned Conversations: Pin the most important conversations to the top of your profile to make them easier to access.
  • Group Photos: iOS 14 enhances group conversations by allowing users to give group conversations a visual identity using a photo, Memoji, or emoji.
  • Mentions: Users can now directly tag users in their messages within group conversations. When a user is mentioned, their name will be highlighted in the text and users can customize notifications so that they only receive notifications when they are mentioned.
  • Inline Replies: Within group conversations, users can select a specific message and reply directly to it.

One of the major upgrades in iOS 14 is the inclusion of Widgets on the home screen. Widgets on the home screen have been redesigned to offer more information at a glance. They are also customizable to give the user more flexibility in how they arrange their home screen.

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iOS 14 introduces the App Library, a program which automatically organizes applications into categories offering a simple, easy-to-navigate view. App Library helps make all of a user’s applications visible at once and allow users to customize how they’d like their applications to be categorized.

In addition to incorporating a variety of UI enhancements, iOS 14 is significantly smarter. Siri is equipped with 20x more facts than it had three years ago. iOS 14 improves language translation, offering 11 different languages. Users can download the languages based on what they will need to keep translations private without requiring an internet connection.

Apple has also introduced a number of UI enhancements to help make the most of screen real estate:

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Compact Calls condense the amount of screen real estate occupied by phone calls from iPhone, FaceTime, and third-party apps, allowing users to continue viewing information on their screen both when a call comes in and when they are on a call.

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Picture in Picture mode similarly allows users to condense their video display so that it doesn’t take up their entire screen, allowing the user to navigate their device without pausing their video call or missing part of a video that they are watching.

ANDROID 11

In comparison to iOS 14, Android 11 is not a major visual overhaul of the platform. However, it does offer an array of new features which enhance UI.

  • Android 11 introduces native screen recording, allowing users to record their screen. It is a useful feature already included in iOS, particularly helpful when demonstrating how applications work.
  • While recording videos, Android allows users to mute notifications which would otherwise cause the recording to stop.
  • Users can now modify the touch sensitivity of their screen, increasing or decreasing sensitivity to their liking.
  • Android 11 makes viewing a history of past notifications as easy as it has ever been using the Notification History button.
  • When users grant an Android app access to a permission, in the current OS, the decision is written in stone for all future usage. Based on this decision, the application will have permanent access, access during usage, or will be blocked. Android 11 introduces one-time permissions, allowing users to grant an application access to a permission once and requiring the question to be posed again the next time they open it.

IOS 14 VS. ANDROID 11

While Android offers a variety of small improvements, iOS 14 provides the iOS platform with a major visual overhaul. This year, it is safe to say that iOS 14 wins the battle for the superior upgrade. With both Android and iOS slated for a fall release, how users respond to the new OS’s remains to be seen.

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

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In the previous installment of our blog series on indoor positioning, we explored all that Bluetooth 5.1 has to offer.  This week, we will examine what may be a major wireless technology of the future: Ultra Wideband.

In September 2019, the inclusion of a U1 chip was listed among the innovations announced with the  iPhone 11. The U1 chip provides Ultra Wideband (UWB) connectivity. Those knowledgable on UWB recognize that the inclusion of the U1 chip is a major step toward UWB becoming a household name technology like Bluetooth and WiFi.

HISTORY

UWB signifies a number of synonymous terms, including impulse, carrier-free, baseband, time domain, nonsinusoidal, orthogonal function and large-relative-bandwidth radio/radar signals.

Guglio Marcone, UWB innovator

Guglielmo Marconi, UWB innovator

UWB was first employed by Guglielmo Marconi in 1901 to transmit Morse code sequences across the Atlantic Ocean using spark gap radio transmitters. Development began in the late 1960s with pioneering contributions by Harmuth at Catholic University of America, Ross and Robbins at Sperry Rand Corporation, and Paul van Etten at USAF’s Rome Air Development Center in Russia. In the early 2000s, UWB was used in military radars, covert communication, and briefly in medical imaging applications such as remote heart monitoring systems. Its adoption lagged until commercial interests began exploring potential innovative uses.

MODERN USAGE

via Sewio

via Sewio

UWB is a short-range wireless communication protocol. It differs from WiFi and Bluetooth in that it uses radio waves operating at a very high frequency. Ultra Wideband alludes to the wide spectrum of GHz of the waves it utilizes, 5000 MHz or higher. Wi-Fi and LTE radio bands are about one-tenth as wide, typically ranging from 20 to 80 MHz. UWB is like a radar that can lock into objects to identify their location and transmit data.

Apple describes UWB technology as providing “spatial awareness”—it can continuously scan a room and precisely lock onto specific objects. One of the major applications for it in the iPhone 11 is the ability for the user to point their device at another device to target it for an Airdrop.

INDOOR POSITIONING

The primary usages of UWB are expected to be in indoor positioning, location discovery, and device ranging according to IDC research director Phil Solis. Compared to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, UWB is extremely low power and the high bandwidth makes it perfect for relaying mass amounts of data from a host device to other devices around 30 feet away. Unlike Wi-Fi, UWB is not particularly good at transmitting through walls, but its robustness against interference and high data rate (110 kbit/s – 6.8 Mbit/s) enable ideal, ultra-precise indoor positioning.

The inclusion of the UWB U1 chip in the iPhone 11 paves the way for applications in indoor mapping and navigation, smart home and vehicle access and control, enhanced augmented reality, and mobile payments that are more secure than NFC.

MASS ADOPTION

As new applications continue to emerge and the demand for indoor positioning increases, the major hurdle UWB faces is a lack of existing infrastructure. Apple and Huawei, the two largest smartphone makers in the world, are developing UWB projects, including chip and antenna production. Apple’s decision to include it in the iPhone 11 is the first time a UWB chip will be deployed on a smartphone. As trendsetters, it stands to reason that UWB will only grow in popularity from here and mass adoption may be inevitable.

Stay tuned for the next entry in our Indoor Positioning blog series which will explore RFID Tags!

Maximize Profits with the Top Freemium Tactics of 2020

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The global gaming market is estimated at $152 billion, with 45% derived from mobile games. The mobile game market is constantly evolving, new tactics and even platforms, like Apple Arcade, are being introduced. As a mobile game developer, being dynamic and staying up on the latest trends is of the utmost importance. Staying on top of these trends will help make a more engaging and profitable mobile game.

Keeping this in mind, below are the top freemium tactics of 2020:

RETENTION IS (STILL) KING

Mobile game developers must remember that freemium games begin and end with a good retention strategy that keeps users engaged.

Daily Tasks: Set-up daily tasks that pass the Starbucks Test. One of them can be opening the app on a daily basis. These should be fairly simple to complete and offer a reward, encouraging users to integrate gameplay into their daily lives.

Rewards Pack on User Birthdays: Give users some kind of bonus on their birthday to enrich their personal relationship with the game.

Challenge Dormant Users: After 3 days, give users a special, temporary challenge to reengage them with the app. Temporary promotions can be an effective way to instill a sense of urgency in the call-to-action and trigger users to open the app.

Promotion Before Subscription/Free Trial Ends: Tempt the user to sign-up or to extend their subscription by offering a temporary promotion 24-48 hours before their free trial/subscription ends.

When it comes to measuring retention, check out the model retention rates below from The Tool (Performance-Based Mobile ASO):

  • Day 1 Retention – 40%
  • Day 7 Retention – 20%
  • Day 28 Retention – 10%

Retention can also be tracked hourly instead of daily where Day 1 Retention will be the percentage of users who returned within 24-48 hours from the install. Here’s how it might look in analytics systems such as devtodev (via The Tool):

Retention-Analytics

OUTSTREAM VIDEO ADS

Outstream Video is a new type of video ad unit, referred to sometimes as “native video”, designed for targeting mobile users.

Outstream Video ads do not require placement within a Youtube video. They play with the sound off on mobile screens when more than 70% of the ad is visible. The user can tap the ad to turn the sound on and restart the video from the beginning, or they can continue scrolling. When less than 70% of the ad is visible, the video pauses.

Advertisers such as the Hong Kong tourism board have had great success using Outstream Video ads, delivering 30% incremental reach with a 40% lower cost per completed video and 85% lower CPM.

REWARDED ADS PAY OFF

When it comes to monetizing a mobile game through advertising, rewarded ads remain at the top of the food chain. A recent survey of app publishers asked what their most successful monetization method was. Rewarded Video Ads won with 75% of the vote.

By offering users some kind of in-game reward, such as an extra life, a bonus item, or a new avatar, app developers can improve UI and engagement while encouraging ad views without bothering the user. Rewarded ads remain the ad unit with the highest earning potential.

LOOT BOXES

A loot box is a randomized box of in-game prizes. Users pay for an in-app purchase, but there is no guarantee of whether it will contain gold or pennies, the user has to make the decision to purchase in exchange a random reward. While this tactic is somewhat controversial in Europe where Belgium and the Netherlands have cracked down and labeled it gambling, it remains a popular tactic. Loot boxes are particularly effective for  Whales, wealthy mobile game users who will readily pay to improve their performance in the game.

SELL YOUR DATA

The collection and sale of data is a massive industry. If your app offers the technical means to collect user-generated data such as geolocation, it may be worth it to acquire user consent to license that data.

Applications like Waze & Foursquare receive community-generated data from their users and effectively leverage it to monetize their applications. Waze licenses data to businesses placing location-based ads, whereas Foursquare licenses point of interest geolocation data to Google & Apple for their first party GPS apps Apple Maps & Google Maps.

CONCLUSION

It is important to keep in mind that monetization is the icing on the cake—without an engaging game that hooks users, there will be nothing to monetize. However, making key decisions in the development process with the monetization strategy in mind will *literally* pay off in the long run.

Check out our previous blogs on Mobile Game Monetization for an overview of the fundamentals.

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

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GPS can help you get from A to B, but what can it do to enhance your indoor retail experience?  Over the next several entries, the Mystic Media Blog will endeavor on a five-part deep dive into the top indoor location technologies and how they will help form the retail experience of the future.

GPS has become ingrained in our everyday lives. Zoomers will never know of a world without GPS, the world of Mapquest and just plain old maps.

While Google Maps, Waze, and Apple Maps can take you from your home to your favorite retailer, finding your way around large stores remains difficult. As a business owner, you want to make the act of navigating the store as easy as possible so that your customers have a positive experience finding what they want. Indoor GPS can solve that problem.

In the past five years, indoor positioning has blown up. The global market for indoor location technology is projected to hit $40.99 billion by 2022, a significant increase from $5.22 billion in 2016. That’s a compound annual growth rate of 42%. With $2.4 billion anticipated in annual spending on beacons and asset tracking by the end of 2020, IPS or Indoor Positioning Systems are here to stay.

Here are the top IPS technologies in use today:

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BLE 5.1 BEACONS

Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons are tiny battery powered devices that can connect to bluetooth-enabled devices like smartphones.

When it comes to indoor positioning, the more precise the positioning, the larger the investment required to achieve it. Bluetooth Low Energy beacons have become a technology stack because they require relatively inexpensive hardware to achieve an accuracy of up to 1-3 meters. BLE 5.1 beacons have improved upon that, providing 1-10 centimeters of accuracy with minimal lag.

BLE is extremely power efficient and cost-effective, minimally draining a phone’s battery  when connected, and can be used within WiFi access points or lighting infrastructure. Since they infrequently require maintenance, they are often used in high-traffic venues.

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ULTRA-WIDEBAND (UWB)

Ultra-wideband (UWB) is a radio technology utilizing low power consumption for a high-bandwidth connection. UWB has extremely precise locating abilities, dialing in to locate objects within one centimeter.

In September 2019, Apple announced the iPhone 11 includes a “U1” chip with UWB technology; however, UWB technology is currently not widely available. Many consider it to be the future of indoor positioning technology, but the lack of existing infrastructure will likely delay mass adoption. Regardless, for applications like warehouse tracking where ultra-precise positioning is required, UWB is an ideal solution.

RFID

RFID TAGS

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. RFID is a simple technology with a tag and a reader. The reader extracts data from the tag using radio-frequency electromagnetic field and identifies the object the tag is attached to.

Although RFID is often used in combination with other technologies for more precise indoor location, the market for RFID is gradually increasing. It’s currently slated for growth in the apparel and shoes space, with great potential in other markets such as healthcare and automotive.

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AR-BASED NAVIGATION

Indoor navigation utilizing Augmented Reality technologies can do more than just help you navigate a store, it can totally revolutionize the retail experience.  AR can create virtual paths and arrows to help navigate the store. For businesses, AR can improve internal processes by making it easier for staff to navigate offices and warehouses.

This technology is enabled by placing visual markers which can be scanned by the users using their mobile device’s camera. The phone will then guide the user through the retail experience and can be customized to help them find what they need.

In May 2019, the number of AR-enabled devices around the world reached 1.05 billion. Apple and Google are actively working on improving ARKit and ARCore, their AR software development frameworks. Beyond simply helping customers and staff navigate stores, AR will pave the way for personalized shopping experiences unlike any we’ve seen before.

CONCLUSION

While BLE Beacons are currently the leader in the marketplace, many technologies are competing to pioneer the most advanced and accurate indoor location technologies. Given the countless applications, the future is looking bright for indoor location applications! Tune into our next indoor positioning blog when we take a deep dive into BLE 5.1 beacons.