Category Archives: Augmented Reality

Augmented and Virtual Reality are a key driver in delivering the Digital Railway

In December 2016, the National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR), Rail Supply Group (RSG), Rail Delivery Group (RDG) and the Department for Transport (DfT) gathered the Rail Industry together to launch the Rail Sector Skills Delivery Plan.

The industry plan is to recruit 100,000 people into the rail industry to plug the skills gap and keep the country moving forward as demand for both passenger and rail freight shows no sign of slowing down. The Government have committed through their Transport Infrastructure Skills Strategy (TISS) their requirement to produce 30,000 new apprenticeships by 2020 of which 20,000 have been targeted in rail. Their aim is for 20% of the entrants to be female and a 20% increase in Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME).

So as an industry our challenge is this, we need to recruit 100,000 highly motivated people. In the engineering discipline we are competing against the Automotive, Aerospace, Construction, Energy and Oil & Gas sectors all of whom have an established culture of driving innovation and have proactively formed relationships with schools, universities and the military.

In order to compete against these other sectors in the battle for talent, dare I say it, we have to make the railway sexy. One way to achieve this is to educate our future and existing workforce that in railways we are utilising leading cutting edge technology and embracing accelerated ways of learning as the catalyst to engage the exciting digital railway journey ahead of us.

“Embrace technology or risk falling behind”. Britain’s railway must take advantage of new technology in order to improve services, industry leaders urged the sector in an open letter to the Times: “To respond to the challenge of a huge increase in rail journeys and people’s expectations rising faster than the improvement in services, the railway must harness new technology and change the way we work” the letter reads.

Other industries have been through these changes. Now it is the turn of rail, critically important to the future of our nation. By exploiting technology and smarter working, we can make train travel more reliable, more accessible, more affordable and more comfortable, creating new jobs in the sector and enabling manufacturers to grow the British economy.

Earlier in the year PAULEY (Interactive) were invited to attend the World Skills Show to showcase our virtual reality experience of the new National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR) alongside an augmented reality experience for HS2 by Plotr.

It was clear that by offering these technologies they attracted and engaged more potential young talent. NCHSR and HS2 have started to advanced the process by embracing innovative and immersive new technology in recruiting the railway workers of the future to maximum effect.

Faced with communicating to a gaming generation whose every waking moment seems to be spent interacting with mobile devices, the answer to engaging the next generation seems quite simple. Communicate with the digital natives in a language they are familiar with. By communicating in a methodology that inspires and reassures them that a job in the railway of the future will use this technology as a matter of course. We need to teach young engineers that becoming a digital railway man or women will offer them a dynamic career for life and a passport to work anywhere in the world.

We demonstrated our latest HoloLens experience at NTAR in December where Steve Scrimshaw, Managing Director, Rail Systems, Siemens said: “I am very impressed with the Augmented and Virtual Reality software that has been applied by PAULEY in delivering the next generation of digital training at the National Skills Academy for Rail. This type of equipment and technology will be essential in training the next generation of rail engineers”.

Immersive training technology for the rail sector has been tried, tested and pioneered by PAULEY Interactive Ltd at the National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR). Collaboration with NTAR has resulted in multiple awards being won over the last year for driving innovation in learning and development.

Philip Pauley, CEO and Founder of PAULEY Interactive Ltd commented “By digitising course material into immersive content we have been able to successfully reduce learning time and maximize competency of our future engineers; their feedback on the new digitized methodology has been astounding!”

Looking at both track and train as a whole, we are developing more immersive course content and tailored maintenance, safety critical and operations material which can be delivered fully immersed in touchscreen, augmented and virtual reality solutions. Within these digital environments and step by step processes there is no need to worry about safety and taking someone directly into a dangerous environment as you can teach them first in the classroom or more importantly, at the point of need.

Some may argue there is nothing sexy about the railway; the rain, the hours, the hoop jumping, the frustration etc but a career working on the UK rail network will give the next generation of digital rail engineers a passport to utilize leading edge technology and travel anywhere in the world. We believe our future digital railway has the potential to be very sexy, full of immersive technology and will give an aspiring engineer (and existing workforce) the digital skillset to embrace a global railway family.

If you would like to find out how PAULEY (Interactive) can accelerate learning, improve safety or help drive down training costs in your organization please get in touch with Philip Pauley via info@pauley.co.uk or www.pauley.co.uk.

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The VR/AR Boom Is Here: Join the Step Change

Every forward-thinking, ambitious organisation should be aiming to ride the crest of the technological wave. Yet too many are shying away from the seemingly daunting arena of virtual and augmented realities.

The reality is that not engaging with VR/AR now—just as the field starts to boom—could be an even bigger risk to your business strategy.

Join a booming market

After a long time in the making, the VR/AR market is currently at tipping point: Deloitte Global predicts that 2016 will be VR’s first billion-dollar year. Over at Goldman Sachs, they’re estimating the VR/AR market to grow to $80 billion by 2025—the same as today’s desktop PC market.

We occasionally meet innovation and digital managers who are yet to be convinced that they’re overlooking a fantastic area of opportunity for using VR/AR for training, and client and staff engagement within their organisation. But as momentum gathers, any company that hangs back is at risk of being left behind. Given the pace of change, and the speed with which some companies are moving ahead with VR/AR, clawing back the lost ground could prove challenging.

Who’s investing in VR/AR tech, and why?

The chances are, your competitors are already investing in this field, or are at least thinking about it. In the US, more than one-third of manufacturers use VR hardware and software at the moment or plan to implement it—along with AR—in the next three years.

Manufacturers and industrial businesses tend to be ahead of the game. Uses for the technology in these environments is more immediately obvious perhaps, as both VR and AR are ideal tools for product design and prototyping. Car manufacturers in particular have been big investors in the market. 

VR and AR are now becoming increasingly accessible as a result of their rising availability and falling purchase cost.

VR offers an immersive 360-degree experience within a virtual environment, with its content traditionally being delivered via a high-end computer and tethered headset, such as the Oculus Rift. Although, we’re already seeing VR take the leap into headsets powered by modern smartphones.

The origins of AR have always utilised the in-built camera of a mobile device to overlay computer-generated images onto a real world environment, often allowing the user to interact with their surroundings. Simplistic versions of AR form the basis of popular smartphone games like Pokémon Go. More advanced versions of AR are now being delivered through smart glasses and headsets such as those from DAQRI and Microsoft HoloLens, which utilise transparent visors to visualise their output display—largely useful for industrial applications.

Future development will see the best of both VR and AR merging into a new form of immersive mixed reality, often delivered through portable headset devices, and suitable for all purposes.

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Organisations of all kinds can reap huge benefits from getting involved. At PAULEY we create immersive, interactive experiences and VR-based tools for competitive advantage and competency training. Using VR to teach your employees new skills and refresh old ones has marked a step-change in the effectiveness, engagement and memorability of training. It’s especially useful for giving trainees virtual “access” to dangerous, remote or unavailable equipment, and allowing them to learn theoretical subject matter through hands-on learning.

Marketing is another hugely accessible area of growth for VR/AR. Developing 360 videos and virtual tours can showcase your business products, environments and plans to clients around the world. Plus, the recent runaway success of mobile AR game Pokemon Go proves that a wide range of consumers are keen to engage with new technologies, if they’re made accessible to them.

Other benefits for AR and VR lie in encouraging team and project collaboration. A major area for growth is in immersive, real-time video, which will virtually place people together in the same space. Companies such as 8i are driving this movement forward with their amazing “volumetric videos” which creates 3D footage of people that viewers can see from every angle. This trend could also be why Facebook are investing in VR (they acquired Oculus in 2014, for example).

Imagine if team members from around the globe could join a videoconference and interact with hologram-like versions of each other, sharing the same view of a virtual model or infographic.

How to get started in VR/AR

So how can your business harness the power of VR and AR to achieve its business goals.

Your team may not need a specific VR/AR strategy, but might choose to include it within the existing IT strategy. The import thing is that it’s being discussed in terms of your organisation’s vision and available resources.

Your budget might allow for a VR room with state-of-the art tech, or simply a few Samsung Gear VR headsets. But both ends of the scale allow everyone in your company to experience the potential of VR.

Bear in mind that the near future is likely to see mobile technologies and the growing popularity of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) dovetail with the growth in VR and AR. Integrating the two is likely to be a central focus of your strategy.

PAULEY have been helping a range of clients start to engage with VR/AR, and we’re always happy to give a demonstration of what the technology can do for you. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch with us today!

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Virtual Reality: A Leap Forward in Aerospace and Defence Training

The Global Innovation Index has just ranked the UK as the second most innovative country in the world. But are we in danger of losing our edge?

Engineering skills across a number of industries are being lost as the workforce ages and too few trainees are recruited. Closing this skills gap as soon as possible is clearly vital. And cutting edge technology—such as virtual and augmented reality—could play a large part in achieving this.

The defence engineering skills gap

The UK’s aerospace engineering and manufacturing businesses make up nearly a fifth of the industry globally, but a number of recent reports have drawn attention to the shortfall in critical engineering skills within the aerospace and defence sector.

But with an estimated shortfall of 55,000 engineers, this skills gap in systems engineering is worrying for the future of the industry. The workforce is ageing and a vast number of talented, new recruits are desperately needed.

What’s causing the problem? Many have blamed the decreasing numbers of students studying STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths), which is resulting in a shrinking pool of potential candidates.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology’s Skills and Demand in Industry 2014 annual report shows around a third of employers blaming a lack of practical experience and technical expertise in school leavers.

The reports states that 59% of aerospace engineering employers are seriously understaffed and were often critical of their new recruits. Almost half of those employers surveyed bemoaned the fact that skill levels simply didn’t meet reasonable expectations

More training required

It’s clear that more suitable training is required that will allow new recruits to “hit the ground running”. This is a realisation that the Government seems to be attempting to tackle with its Degree Apprenticeships.

The recently announced Defence Systems Engineering Masters Level apprenticeship (part of the BIS Trailblazer Apprenticeships programme) is a three to five year programme of blended vocational training and traditional academic study. It’s designed to create rounded professional systems engineers.

The Defence Growth Partnership skills group has developed the aerospace and defence training programme, led by Allan Cook, chairman of Atkins, a team of defence employers and the Ministry of Defence.

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Virtual reality for eLearning is starting to take off, with increasing demand emerging from training and development organisations. There are 16 National Skills Academies in the UK, which work within their sectors to provide quality-assured training and share best practice.

We’ve recently finished converting a wide range of slide- and paper-based learning materials into eTraining solutions for the brand new £7 million National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR)—a joint venture between the National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering (NSARE), Siemens and the UK Government.

Some of our most immersive courses place trainees into amazingly accurate virtual environments using the Oculus Rift VR headset, in what’s a first for the rail industry.

Virtual reality—and increasingly augmented reality—can bridge the gap perfectly between vocational “hands-on” training and academic learning. VR programs mean that students and new recruits can learn best practice in handling complex machinery from an easily managed and safety critical classroom setting.

The high levels of interactivity required by engaging mentally and physically with a virtual environment drive accelerated learning, higher results and pass rates thanks to increased memorability. Plus, complex, expensive and difficult-to-access systems don’t have to be made available to trainees until further down the line.

Importantly, advanced simulations for aerospace and defence training can be part of the recruitment and onboarding process. Incorporating virtual reality not only allows trainees to accumulate important knowledge quickly and safely, but also creates excitement and raises engagement in technical topics.

Engineering is a fulfilling and fascinating career, but sometimes it remains hard to inspire young people to get involved. The opportunities for immersive eLearning and gamification can inspire the Minecraft generation to become the engineers of tomorrow… keeping UK plc. at the forefront of the aerospace and defence industry.

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4 Reasons Why Experiential Marketing with Virtual & Augmented Reality Boosts Sales

Experiential marketing—using virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and other interactive, 3D touchscreen technologies—is a massively growing field. It places your customers into a fully immersive, branded environment, delivering an engaging and memorable physical interaction.

Consumers have always expected increasingly innovative and hi-tech ways of viewing and assessing their investments. And here’s why you should consider experiential marketing, too:

1. Let natural interaction do the selling for you

Everyone loves digital interactivity. Our brains are programmed to respond to colour, movement, sound and physical interaction. The act of physically engaging with an interface has been proven time and again to increase the memorability of the content and leave a lasting impression.

At the inaugural Space Situational Awareness Conference, there was a constant queue of delegates at our stand, all of whom were keen to take a VR trip into space using the Oculus Rift.

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Tracking technologies such as RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags are already being integrated into events and experiences, allowing developments such as intelligent signage, and personalized sound, video, lighting… the list goes on. Beacons on physical objects are unlocking interactive content in a live event or retail area by linking them to the Internet of Things.

Experiences that give rise to positive emotions and generate powerful mental imagery in potential customers are incredibly valuable to any brand. Designed well, with a little creative spark, such interactions create a closer bond between the brand and the consumer.

2. Describe complexity without words

Words only go so far in describing your product’s inner workings and the components and other characteristics that set it apart from your competitors. If your business is dependent upon customers understanding and engaging with the technical or mechanical detail of what you do and what you produce, it might be time to invest in a way of accurately visualising these ‘hidden’ assets.

Computer-generated versions of upcoming projects and technologies—especially if delivered in impressive VR or AR consistently win new clients.

Why? Your customers can suddenly see your products as they function, in incredible detail. And this can now be a more inspiring, engaging and cohesive process thanks to the development of interactive digital media such as holographic projections, CGI, 3D modelling, complex photorealistic animations and interactive touchscreen technology.

The outcomes for products that are hard to visualise or demonstrate to potential customers—either because they take no physical form, can’t usually be seen in action, are technically complex, or can’t be brought into meetings—are especially impressive.

3. Make visually uninspiring products eye-catching

Humans are visual creatures and it’s often tricky to make your company stand out at pitches, trade shows and exhibitions. Whatever it is that makes your product unique may not always be immediately obvious, and it’s all too easy to fade into the background.

But showcasing futuristic technologies is a sure-fire way to grab the attention of passers-by and engage potential customers from the get-go.

We’ve developed eye-catching 3D visualisations for Aish Technologies, which accurately show how their anti-rust cathodic protection systems extend the life of submarines, comparing their technology to that of their competitors. Aish say that these visualisations will help them deliver their key marketing messages in face-to-face situations.

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At PAULEY, we’re really excited about the future of experiential marketing. Cameras and facial recognition systems can already be used to determine the gender, ethnicity and emotional reaction of audiences to content on an interactive screen. Imagine if that content could be customized to each person in a sales meeting!

4. Equip sales team to explain products accurately and consistently

State-of-the-art digital technologies – platforms such as mobile apps, Microsoft’s HoloLens, biometric recognition software, virtual reality, and the much-hyped Magic Leap augmented reality – can deliver complex experiences in ways that are reusable, repeatable and reach more customers in a cost effective way.

VR and AR experiences and demonstrations can be delivered with portable technologies. And their digital basis means that content can be easily edited and translated into different languages—useful for companies which want to use the same key sales messages globally.

The kinds of technology we’ve mentioned here have many other business applications beyond experiential marketing. Interactive content can also be used to deliver immersive training, cost-effective simulations and dynamic sales tools.

We’ve created 360-degree training demonstrations, for example, in which live video is streamed into virtual military vehicle cockpits using AR and VR technologies. This gives trainees an ultra-realistic, hands-on experience before they’re ready to engage with the real thing.

When it comes to virtual and augmented reality, the opportunities with experiential marketing are endless!

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Using Beacon Technology to Boost Customer Experience

Beacons are small, physical objects – wireless transmitters that broadcast radio signals short distances. Smartphones and mobile devices can pick up on their signals to receive content. Their use is on the rise across a range of industries.

They have been likened to indoor GPS and, using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology, beacons can communicate with and send small data packets to smartphones that come into a range of about 50-100 metres. They are low cost and require very little energy.

Within the marketing sector, beacon technology is also known as “proximity marketing” – alluding to its importance in creating timely physical context and location-specific relevance for customers.

The popularity of beacon technology is soaring as smartphones and mobile devices continue to proliferate. A recent study by AirSpace showed that 79% of the brands questioned are planning to implement proximity marketing over the next six months.

So 2015 could be the year that beacon technology hits the big time. And much of the commercial interest in beacon technology so far has come from the retail sector.

Retail

Apple has created its own iBeacons and set out its support for the technology by installing them in all its US stores to help customers seek assistance, alert them if their iPhone is eligible for an upgrade and push information about special deals.

Technology company Iconeme are currently developing the patent-pending VMBeacon – a beacon for use in fashion retail environments. The technology has already been trialled by House of Fraser, Oasis, Hawes & Curtis, and Jaeger. It has just been launched at Ted Baker‘s store in Westfield White City, London – a first for the brand.

How does it work? Customers will need to download the free app and allow push notifications. VMBeacons are inserted into mannequins within the store. When a customer passes a beacon, a push notification is triggered in the associated smartphone app.

These alerts can provide links to the Ted Baker website, or help the customer locate where the mannequin’s garments can be found on the shop floor. The beacons also generate detailed photos and descriptions of what the customer is looking at, and this content can become more interactive too: Shoppers can create look-books, share items with friends on social media, or be encouraged to continue using the app – and shop with the brand – by receiving exclusive offers and rewards.

Beacon technology can also be helpful for encouraging active sales and engagement outside of store opening hours. Mannequins located in window displays could interact with passers-by at all times of day and night.

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Other uses for beacons in retail include automatic acceptance of tickets, loyalty cards and payments. Norwegian startup Unacast is planning to use beacons to provide brands with the opportunity to re-target online ads to consumers based on the actual items they have been looking at in-store.

Education & learning

The potential uses for beacon technology within eLearning are huge. Visitors to museums and art galleries could benefit from using a site-specific app linked to beacons throughout the venue, which could offer a much more interactive experience than traditional signage and audio guides are able to do.

Curators and educators could collate further information for each object or artwork and save it within a beacon. Visitors could then automatically access interviews, music, further description, and video, and even respond to – and interact with – the object.

You can imagine that an app would then allow users to save their favourite pieces and share them with others – turning a potentially boring school trip into a rich, rewarding and more long-lasting experience.

Achieving personal targets would also be a great way to use beacons. They could guide you around the gym for example, delivering your exercise routine to your smartphone or updating your smartwatch as you go.

Customer services

Beacons are already being used to enhance travel and transport services for passengers, especially in locations such as major international airports. A pilot scheme by Emirates is fitting beacons into luggage tags – like a kind of wearable technology for suitcases – to track baggage and help prevent loss.

British Airways has been trialling the devices at key points along the consumer journey to improve customer experience and provide useful information like boarding times. Beacons could also be used at transport hubs to notify passengers of timetable changes, delays, special deals and gate information.

Back on the high street, a Barclays Bank branch in Sheffield is currently trialling beacon technology to help its disabled customers. An application on the customer’s iPhone will recognise the in-store beacon to notify staff that they have entered the building and will require assistance.

Our tips: Making beacon technology work for you

  • Convincing users to download your app is the hard bit. Remember that consumers will download apps, but only as long as it adds genuine value to their experience.
  • Plan how you’ll keep your content fresh. A content management system will allow you to manage all the information in real-time, in a way that’s easily update-able.
  • Once your beacon system is live, be sure to make maximum use of it to gain greater insights into your customers’ behaviour, needs and desires.

We’re always keen to work with companies with grand plans for using next generation digital technologies. Get in touch to discuss your ideas and we’ll make them a reality!

Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation today. Get in touch by calling 01908 522532 or email info@pauley.co.uk.

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Experiential Marketing: Exploiting Next Generation Tech

Experiential marketing places individuals, or groups of people, into an immersive, branded environment. This massively growing field is defined as an experience with some kind of physical interaction that goes far beyond passively watching a screen or a presentation.

What’s the point of experiential marketing?

It’s vital to grasp the fact that, despite the tech-focussed natures of Millennials, physical experiences are still more powerful than any other approach for new generations of customers. In fact, 78% are more inclined to become part of a brand if they have some kind of “face-to-interface” interaction. So get it right and you’re onto a winner.

Experiences that give rise to positive emotions and generate memorable mental imagery in potential customers are incredibly valuable to any brand. Designed well, with a little creative spark, such interactions create a closer bond between the brand and the consumer by immersing them in a fun and memorable experience.

On the surface, the engagement numbers might not convince you. But experiential marketing is all about quality over quantity. Carefully target the right people at the right time with a high quality interactive experience, and they’ll come back again and again, over a long period of time. This customer lifetime value (CLV) is a highly prized metric.

The not-too-distant future

Remember the personalised, holographic adverts featured in Minority Report? This type of highly personalised experience is likely to become an important part of marketing.

Cameras and facial recognition systems can already be used to determine the gender, ethnicity and emotional reaction of audiences to content on an interactive screen. Imagine if that content could be customized to each person in the audience!

Tracking technologies such as RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags could soon be fully integrated into events and experiences, allowing developments such as intelligent signage, and personalized sound, video, lighting… the list goes on. Beacons on physical objects could unlock interactive content in a live event or retail space.

Next generation tech NOW

Treating a handful of potential customers to a sky dive might help your company sell its energy drinks with an unforgettable experience, but it’ll cost the earth. So, marketing executives are teaming up with digital agencies such as ours to pioneer the future.

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Emerging digital technologies – platforms such as mobile apps, Microsoft Kinect, biometric recognition software, virtual reality, and the much-hyped Magic Leap augmented reality – can mimic this kind of experience in a way that’s portable, repeatable and reaches more customers in a cost effective way in all aspects of life, including trade shows, pop-up shops, and meetings around the world.

The tools are all out there – it’s just a case of putting them to use imaginatively. By combining the real world with the digital world, we’re creating a new era of experiential marketing in which the customer can “touch” or “interact” with your product.

Here at PAULEY, we’ve been using drones, Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets, and interactive content not solely for marketing, but also to deliver immersive training and sales tools.

Brands can extend the reach of their experiential marketing by encouraging customers to create their own content, making something that is tangible and shareable beyond the lifetime of the event. And social media can be integrated into marketing events to make the experience stretch further.

We’re always keen to work with companies with grand plans for using next generation digital technologies. Get in touch to discuss your ideas and we’ll make them a reality!

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Interactive Touch Screen Technology: Sell More in Store

Looking for more public engagement, an enhanced sales pipeline, and interactive content for multi-channel use in a retail environment? It’s time to get ahead of the game with interactive touch screen technology.

The growing appeal of online shopping means that retailers are pushing for new ways for get shoppers into bricks-and-mortar shops. We need new, entertaining reasons for going to stores, and more exciting product launches. The future of shopping could involve digital sales assistants, RFID-activated messages and supercharged touch screens.

Capitalising on Christmas

Mall and shopping centre operators are creating increasingly interactive experiences in order to draw customers into stores over the Christmas period.

This festive season, mall operator Macerich has launched a virtual Santa HQ in ten locations. Children can stand on a platform that determines how good they’ve been, displaying their names on “naughty” or “nice” boards. Visitors can also see their faces superimposed on cartoon dancing elves, and tablet-based augmented reality reveals rooms full of presents. Texting technology means there’s no waiting in line to meet Santa himself.

Taubman malls are also hoping to net families with virtual experiences created by Dreamworks and Disney.

At Target, creating wish lists is easy with a game-like app that reviews the toy catalogue and shares those dream items on social media. Hold an iPad over the catalogue, and the pages appear in 3D, showing more information about the products.

Interactivity coming to a store near you…

shrek1Coca-Cola recently launched highly interactive vending machines in Asia and Australia. Combining the Internet of Things (IoT) with digital signage, screens share content with customers at the point of sale, encouraging them to share their experience on social media by offering games, discounts and more.

It’s working: Beverage sales on a new digital cooler were found to be 12 percent higher than standard coolers.

UGG Australia has some incredibly high-tech outlets, with queues out of the door. The first, technology-driven concept store in Washington D.C. is a test bed for retail interactivity. Using RFID technology to trigger content on huge touchscreens around the shop floor, customers can interact with the products more than ever before.

Try on a pair of boots, and you can personalize the design of your choice, such as adding Swarovski crystal embellishments. Meanwhile, the screens will show offers, options, styling tips, relevant marketing campaigns and complementary products.

A new store “employee” at a San Jose department store knows immediately the real-time stock levels and location of all the shop’s wares. Impressive, eh? The person-sized, robotic OSHbot has a 3D-sensing camera, which can scan an item such as a screw, identify it, and guide the customer to where they can find similar products. Its built-in technologies include voice recognition, autonomous navigation and obstacle avoidance.

Other robots in development for retail include a personal robotic shopping assistant and a security guard.

BodyScanner4Elsewhere, 3D scanners are popping up. We developed such a concept here at PAULEY several years ago. As the technology continues to improve, companies such as Size Stream offer full body scanners. Each scanner has 14 sensors that take 450 body measurements in just six seconds. This kind of technology has been used to help fit medical garments, but could now start to seriously branch out into custom tailoring.

App-ealing to savvy shoppers

More and more retailers are launching their own apps, which can be used to shop on line and increase engagement in store. Macy’s recently launched Image Search – a function that allows users to take a snap of something they like and sends them similar items from the store’s inventory.

The new app from Starbucks facilitates mobile payment and keeps tracks of purchases to make it easy to track and redeem reward points. Simply click to pay and a barcode appears, which the cashier scans.

Shoppers at Tysons Corner Center in Virginia, USA, who have the center’s app now see a welcome message pop up when they enter the store. Acting like a virtual shop assistant, the app immediately answers questions via text message and asks if the customer wants their purchases delivered to their home.

Interested in increasing interactivity & engagement?

At PAULEY, our bespoke digital solutions create exciting, immersive experiences that will leave a lasting impression on your customers.

We’ll work with you to make your brand more memorable, help you visualize and demonstrate complex products, and create streamlined, shareable content for all platforms.

Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation today! Get in touch by calling 01908 522532 or email info@pauley.co.uk.

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PAULEY Showcases 3D E-Learning at Space Situational Awareness Conference

  • PAULEY sponsors first Space Situational Awareness Conference
  • Collective efforts to ‘clean up’ Low Earth Orbits is essential
  • Virtual 3D environments could help tackle the problem

PAULEY were delighted to sponsor the inaugural Space Situational Awareness Conference 2013. 

We were invited to showcase our virtual reality visualisation of space using our Oculus Rift developer kit. The 80 international delegates, from research laboratories to government departments and private companies, were queuing up at our stand throughout the two days to take the immersive trip into space.

We garnered some great feedback over the two days of the conference. But why might accurate visualisation of space be such an important asset in the years to come? And how could we help?

Situational space awareness gains urgency

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As Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity wins plaudits for its portrayal of astronauts fighting for survival after a devastating mid-space collision, we’re becoming increasingly aware of the complex machinery orbiting beyond our atmosphere.

The central plot of the film – in which debris from a destroyed satellite sweeps catastrophically around Earth – isn’t that preposterous. While the movie may portray spacecraft to be much closer than they are in reality, we are launching new objects into orbit all the time.

And collisions do happen. In 2009, the satellite Iridium 33 collided with an out-of-service Russian satellite, creating thousands of pieces of debris. While most of that debris is now thought to have burnt up in the atmosphere, the ISS had to perform an avoidance manoeuvre two years after the event.

“Situational space awareness can no longer afford to be ignored,” says our founder, Phil Pauley. “It’s essential that R&D, industry and military organisations continue to join forces.”

Out of sight, out of mind?

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In this modern, interconnected world, so much of what we do depends upon space satellites, from communications to weather forecasting, navigation and defence. There are around 1,000 active satellites in orbit today, with a net worth of €100 billion. They must be protected.

But there are threats to this status quo, in the form of naturally occurring space weather (predominantly solar flares and cosmic rays), asteroids and comets, and man-made space debris.

The debris issue is a growing problem. Causing most problems in low Earth orbits, debris is found where the majority of satellites used for observations, communications and military surveillance operate.

20,000 items of ‘space junk’ larger than a mobile phone are being tracked, and half a million smaller fragments are circling our planet. Travelling at speeds of 5 miles a second, they can do a lot more harm than you might think.

Just because we can’t see space debris from Earth, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Tools such as ours could help accurately visualise the extent of the situation, make it real, and create ways to address the problem and help find solutions.

This month’s conference was recognition of the fact that something must be done. Despite political, military and international boundaries, it seems that those invested in space must start working together to take collective responsibility for debris.

Moving towards collective responsibility

Suggested approaches include launching ‘clean-up’ missions to collect large, disused and hazardous objects. Rockets armed with harpoons, robotic arms or nets could collect space junk and then either launch it out into a less crowded orbit or swing it back into the Earth’s atmosphere to burn up.

How PAULEY could help

Screenshot_2013-11-15-09-14-24The UK and international space industry is growing rapidly, and our reliance on the information gathered and distributed by spacecrafts and satellites is booming. There are plenty of challenges and opportunities ahead.

Much discussion at the conference centred on finding ways of incentivising a consistent process of cleaning up. Do we look at implementing a kind of global space traffic control, perhaps, using our technology to allow us to see what’s happening remotely?

Industry, government and business, some of whom we met at the SSA 2013 Conference, are keen to find new ways of training those involved in the industry, to visualise crafts in space, and to begin astronaut preparation in immersive e-learning environments on Earth.

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Should Next-Generation Education Use Oculus Rift?

“This technology is going to revolutionize the way we live, learn, work, and play.”
– Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus VR

It might be time to move virtual reality out of that ‘cool things that never came to fruition’ box. The Oculus Rift is coming to town, and it’s bringing with it not only a revolutionary approach to gaming, but applications that stretch into education and e-training.

Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey certainly views his device in a broader context: “Virtual reality provides more freedom for content creators than any other form, and allows us to simulate other art forms like movies, books, or traditional games. In that sense, it is the ultimate medium.”

Here’s four ways in which we think VR could become the ultimate educational tool.

1. Escaping the classroom
Research has shown that game-based learning exploits the natural competitive instinct in order to motivate, encourage and reward productive behaviour in the classroom. So surely VR could make this an even more powerful learning experience?

Naysayers insist that few educational games based on standard computers have made it into schools. Some suggest that too many adults associate video games with the propagation of violence, sleepless nights and an unhealthy obsession with artificial worlds and avatars.

But World of Warcraft has been successfully translated to the classroom, ‘gamifying’ the school day to increase productivity and pupil satisfaction. Similarly, a modification to online simulation game Minecraft is being used in over 1,000 schools to create hypothetical scenarios and reconstruct history.

The opportunities are boundless: PublicVR, for example, have created a virtual forest in which students can record measurements and make observations on tree species, canopy closure and tree biomass. It’s just one excellent example of VR-based experiential learning.

2. Learning from a distance
Imagine being able to join in with a lecture from one of the world’s top scientists from thousands of miles away. You’d be wearing a pair of goggles and have headphones in your ears and you’d only see each other as avatars. But would it be as engaging as being there in person?

Research suggests so. This type of digital teacher-student interaction could be even more valuable than the real thing by utilising ‘augmented gaze’. This involves digitally manipulating the avatar of the presenter to make constant direct eye contact with every participant separately.

Behavioural studies show that this simple strategy increases attention, naturally regulates conversation, and heightens physiological responses. The presenter or teacher becomes more influential and more persuasive as a result. We read this as better education for all.

3. Skills-based training
Practise makes perfect, but it’s not always practical. At PAULEY, we’ve created interactive and cost-saving e-training tools for companies who can’t always access the ‘real thing’, whether it’s checking the safety of train engines or training police officers to use new hardware.

VR really comes into its own in this arena, and hardware such as the Oculus Rift provides the closest thing to reality we can currently achieve in digital terms.

It’s no surprise that gory operation game Surgeon Simulator 2013 has already been adapted for Oculus Rift. Could something similar be used to train surgeons and health care professionals in complex surgical procedures?

4. Meditation & reassurance
Primary school teacher Mathieu Marunczyn has been using the Oculus Rift to help manage students with disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD).

He’s found software such as BlueMarble has a remarkable ability to calm down students – something he’s dubbed ‘digital meditation’: “The student was immediately engaged and was calmly yet actively exploring the world he became immersed in. He was no longer physically ‘acting-out’ and I noticed that his whole body became more relaxed.”

The technology could also be used to help children and adults with learning difficulties, or disorders such as those on the autism spectrum, to practice social exchanges and real-life situations in safe, controlled environments. Access to a fine-tuned 3D environment would allow people to repeat certain processes – perhaps the recognising of emotional cues, or the correct way to interact with a sales assistant – until appropriate behaviours are achieved.

Here at PAULEY, we think that experiential learning through VR and digital technologies is justifiably on the up. The benefits are numerous for streamlining efficiencies across multiple sectors. Why shouldn’t we imagine a not-too-distant future in which a Ray Mears-esque avatar leads students on virtual school trips through jungles and across mountains?

Let us know what you think.

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New Technology: A Challenge And A Solution For Retailers

Development in consumer technology has created new challenges for retailers but also appears to offer potential solutions.

Today’s consumer is aided and abetted by technology. In a digital age where consumers are choosing to shop online rather than in store, retail managers are being forced to make the in-store experience more engaging and attractive. There is a growing demand amongst consumers for the ability to be able to interact with digital technology and have a seamless experience across all available channels (omni-channel retailing), which is resulting in many stores now investing in the trial of innovative touch screen and immersive technology to find ways to fulfil the needs of their consumers.

Ironically though, it was innovative new technology that encouraged consumers to move away from the store and retailers are now looking to employ constantly evolving new technology to bring them back!

More than a decade ago e-commerce abstracted some aspects of shopping from the store into a digital context, offering additional benefits to both the retailer and the consumer. The abstraction, however, left key parts of the shopping experience behind which retailers are now refocussing on – the store’s multi-sensory and naturally social context, shopping as an event and destination, and the promise, though not always met, of personal assistance. To its advantage, e-commerce added easier access to reams of information, created new social realms and commercial spaces with new participants, and made shopping ever easier and more convenient. Retailers have continued to augment and improve their customers’ online experience with better content, search, personalisation, security, lists, reviews, checkout, and the like. Most recently, they’ve been adding barcode and QR code search, Web sites optimised for mobility, and mobile apps.

Mobile technology and the ability to shop online at anytime from anywhere is changing the face of the retail store. Over the past few years, the world has witnessed the unprecedented growth of smartphones, changing the way consumers shop and browse. Reports from eDigitalResearch and IMRG have been tracking the growth of the mobile market in the UK. Smartphone ownership now stands at 60% of the overall UK population, having continued to grow at a solid pace over the past 12 months. With the introduction of new, more innovative devices, as well as emerging technologies, such as 4G, ownership looks set to increase in 2013 and signals just how important a channel mobile is becoming to retailers and brands. The report clearly shows the steady growth in the number of smartphone owners who are using their devices to shop and browse. In the latest results from April 2013, over half (54%) of smartphone owners claim to have used their device to browse for products, whilst just under 40% have gone on to make a purchase.

With more convenient digital ways for a consumer to shop, retailers are struggling to keep the consumer engaged in their stores. Immersion seems to be the key to success, with the implementation of technology in store including reality-augmenting magic mirrors, interactive displays, and shelf-edge video to name a few.

The ideas and the innovations of interactive digital signage, online shopping and mobile browsing are here to stay and are being used every day. Retailers can now vastly improve their customer in store experience by providing technology and solutions which help customers to share the online experience they had at home and to revisit the phone browsing experience they had on a train and, by joining up the dots in the digital map, create an engaging multi-channel experience for customers shopping in their store. Combined with a multi-sensory experience that cannot be achieved on mobile devices and a sense of community, the retail store will remain an essential part of our shopping experience. Retailers are just having to work harder to come up with and invest in innovative ways to remind customers why its still important to visit stores and what the benefits are.

There are a vast array of interactive options available to retail outlets, from self-service touch screen kiosks, interactive screens that enable the consumer to explore and order items from product ranges, to augmented reality engines that can help to engage shoppers in unique ways.

Tesco, for example, are trialing the use of augmented reality in their children’s clothing ranges in store. The technology allows children to stand in front of a screen and choose different garments in various sizes or colours etc. to try on. Without needing to go and find and touch the clothing items, they can get an idea of what they would look like in them. Tesco are also using touch screen kiosks in store that customers can use to look up what stock exists in the warehouse and order / pay for an item that is not currently in store.

John Lewis department stores have a pop-up style shop in Exeter which is about a third of the size of a normal John Lewis store. Due to the reduction in floor space, the retailer has had to become more ingenious in the way they use technology in-store. Instead of displaying multiple plates on offer, the Exeter store has a ‘plate wall’ with one of each dish and a kiosk alongside where consumers can order the number they want and have them delivered home. Julian Burnett, head of IT architecture at John Lewis, in a recent edition of ‘Integrated Retailer’ said “Everything that we do is about creating an interactive, engaging and energising experience for our customers”.

Example of augmented reality use in a retail store

Example of augmented reality use in a retail store (Credit: http://www.consumerinstinct.com)

With substantial upfront investment required, retailers are yet to prove that this new technology is having a positive impact on their bottom line, even though visitors appear to love it. There is hope, however, that increased brand engagement techniques and an improved experiences in store (created by new technology) will encourage consumers to continue to visit and buy their products over a competitors.

Not all digital technology has to be interactive. Large format projection screens can also be used to liven up open spaces in retail complexes and provoke the senses to create a more immersive experience as soon as the consumer walks in. Video advertising and product ranges can projected onto screens across what would otherwise be empty windows/dead space to liven up the environment. Moving graphics will catch the eye of consumers and help to enhance their experience right from the first moment they walk into the centre or store. Digital advertising in store can also be used to drive customers to redeem a discount code on their mobile for example, creating a multi-channel experience under one roof. A combination of immersive and engaging technology ensures the correct brand messages are successfully communicated.

Application of Rear Projection Screens in Shopping Centre

Application of Rear Projection Screens in Shopping Centre

Rear projection screen applied to empty shop frontage

Rear projection screen applied to empty shop frontage

So the physical retail store can still offer an experience to consumers that cannot currently be had through mobile commerce. Virtual reality stores can get close to the real thing, but there is still a way to go before digital technology can claim to completely replace the retail store. Until all of our senses can be successfully stimulated through digital technology – sight, sound, smell and touch, the physical store will still add to a consumers experience. And although numbers of in-store shoppers have been dropping, with the development of new technology and highly visual and interactive experiences, consumers will become privy to the benefits of the in-store experience.

Another consideration for the rise in e-commerce and mobile commerce is the impact on logistics and our environment. Because consumers cannot ‘try before they buy’ when they purchase online, we’ve seen a rise in postal returns, the effects of which are unrealised by so many. Increases in fuel consumption for increased deliveries and increased paper usage (even though the order was digital), are having a negative impact on our environment. Trying goods in store can alleviate this to a degree.

Ultimately success for any retail brand is measured on sales. New technology is also aiding retailers in creating what is now widely known as an omni-channel consumer experience, giving them the digital tools to be able to fully understand a consumers journey and activity across multiple channels and to offer a ‘preferred’ and ‘personalised’ experience for each and every individual consumer.  Every digital device, whether it be a touch screen kiosk in store or a mobile phone, can be linked to remote networks to pass behavioural and purchase history information on a consumer to a central database that can then be mined to learn about each consumer and provide them with a unique offer. This is a retailers ultimate goal as it will ensure that a consumer remains loyal to their brand based on a consistently excellent experience of the brand both online, through mobile and in store. With so many consumer digital touch points to monitor and optimise, this is a real challenge.

Perhaps we will be looking towards a future where a global sizing standard is implemented and where scanning technology can tell you exactly what size to order? This would certainly reduce the amount of unnecessary returns, but could also potentially offer a wider range of goods to consumers based on the insight gained from ‘body size’ statistics. For example, a new ‘wider’ foot range may be introduced when its realised that a larger percentage of consumers actually require this. 3D printing technology may also offer a future where goods tailored to an individual can be created quickly and cost-effectively based on a body scan. This could completely change the concept of the retail store.

Combined with the technology now available to create an amazing visual experience in store, the future of retail, although extremely challenging, is exciting and is one industry in which the major benefits of any new technology could be exploited to their maximum for the benefit of both the consumer and the retailer.

If you require help in creating your in-store immersive experience or wish to brainstorm ideas, contact PAULEY on 01908 522532 or info@pauley.co.uk

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