Staff blog: Entrepreneurial energy – the significance of a pit-stop at Stanford.

The energy of an entrepreneur in pursuit of a vision, harnessed, could potentially power a household for a week. In life, it’s not uncommon for one to face a dip in motivation, gusto or focus – and as I learned recently in my experience at Stanford, there is little as revitalizing as sitting in the midst of a room full of hungry entrepreneurs (budding and successful, alike).

blog-entrepreneur-imgThe atmosphere was electric – charged with a burst of energy I soon came to realise must be common-place for students at this historic institution. Notably, there was little whinging, no challenge seemed difficult and no task menial in group discussions. Common fact as it may be, the lecturer reminded us of the 1% chance of start-ups succeeding and the even smaller chance of attaining VC funding. The class gleaned over his words as a challenge to be overcome, rather than a reason to back down.

Almost like a veteran’s ball, students exchanged war stories ranging from soaring close to the sun and having strategic discussions with the likes of Google, to stories of struggle and the pain of failure. The emotion is very real here, as these lucid tales of incredible inspiration are sandwiched with equally detailed sagas of administrative challenges – such as printing and photocopying in colour on a budget. Such is the aura of true entrepreneurial spirit!

In this world – introductions go beyond where one grew up and awkward confessions of obscure hobbies – instead, every introduction is a snap at an elevator pitch, a practise outing before the big game. If there’s one thing entrepreneurs are innately aware of – it’s that every conversation and every moment, is the opportunity to get feedback and test the viability of an idea.

introductions become passionate pitches and conversations become networking. Interestingly, everyone had a story that took the listener somewhere – and 99% of the time it was not a pursuit of dollar bills. Money was not motivating these entrepreneurs; finance was more of the means to an end. The end game almost always is making their dreams come true by solving a problem they set out to solve!

Everyone in that room talked about connecting with people, the more dialogues they had the more they learned. No one spoke about the long hours it takes to have these dialogues the impact it has sometimes on their morale – to them it was simply again an avenue of discovery – another opportunity to learn and think in an exciting new way! Each and every conversation was important to them, regardless the product or industry their conversation partner was engaged in. The conversations were true in every sense as they really listened and asked questions to learn, not just to respond.

It didn’t matter what your idea or product is, the atmosphere here at Stanford is one of encouragement and belief in pursuit of a dream. Everyone suggests ways to think through challenges, and builds a support network that empowers you to be positive in whatever you choose to do. This was a revelation to me, away from the stories of cut-throat entrepreneurship that swirl around Silicon Valley as we, as a cohort, came together to learn, not just about funding strategies, but about each other as well – from crunching numbers, to crunching mindsets.

 

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Change management

Change is constant. With innovations in technology, changes in markets and methodologies, the corporate landscape is constantly evolving. It only makes sense that business adapt to these changes or get left behind.

Indeed, the business that adapt the quickest often carve out a competitive edge for themselves, while the ones mired in the inertia of the old ways, languish behind.

As Prof. Rosabeth M. Kanter of Harvard Business School noted, successful companies have “a culture that just keeps moving all the time”. Change is often arduous and beset by uncertainties and fear. It’s human nature to relish stability. Especially the sort of stability that saw a business through years of profit and efficiency. Why rock the boat when there’s been nothing but smooth sailing?

Of course the reality is, the tides have turned. The same stability that was once an asset is now a liability. Herein lies a fundamental component of change management – convincing employees (from senior executives all the way down) that change is necessary.blog-change-img

When it comes down to it, businesses don’t change, people do. There are many different change management implementation frameworks but in a nutshell, the following needs to take place.

The first step is a reality check; a brutally honest look at what needs to change, as well as communicating this to all levels of the organization. Because change needs to occur at the lowest individual level, all the way up.

Then comes implementation. This involves communicating, very clearly and to all levels of the organization, the overarching vision of the change. This is to ensure that there is no disconnect between the expectations of the employees and the anticipated change. If employees do not agree or fully grasp the logic behind the change, then there will be real problems in implementing such a change.

It is imperative that the change is owned by everyone, from the CEO and senior executives, all the way down the rung of the corporate ladder. Change is not something to be delegated, like project management. It is a process that everyone needs to embrace for it to be successful.

For example, in 2004 when Shell implemented Downstream­One, it was abundantly clear that the change programme started and ended with its new group chairman.

Moreover, this example illustrates another necessary aspect of successful change management: the importance of good leadership, not to command that change just happens, but like all good leaders, to lead by example.

Embracing change will also put leaders in a unique position to empathize with employee concerns and provide the necessary support during the implementation process.

Of course there are other aspects that must be taken into consideration. Change management is not a one size fits all approach. A change management program must take into consideration the unique idiosyncrasies of a particular organization, adjusting the program to work with their particular strengths and weaknesses.

There must also be a clear road map to success, one that takes into account a realistic time frame and that also celebrates small wins on the road to change.blog-change-img1

In many ways, change management is similar to a person ditching unhelpful old habits and replacing them with new, healthier ones, obviously on a much larger and more complicated scale. However, it is prescient to note the analogy as organizational change management often encounters similar obstacles to success.

Time, communication and measured changes, as well as ownership of change from all levels, is crucial to the goal of true change.

 

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Staff blog: Diversity for Creativity

Amongst the numerous companies I have both worked for and worked with, I have always wondered what makes working in Appearition such a different experience. Numerous things come to mind, such as working with leading edge technology – augmented and virtual reality – or the size of the organization and how it contributes to nimble problem solving, but what stands out is the team itself – and the enjoyable exchanges that arise as we analyze challenges and develop solutions.

It is common knowledge that the team you work with plays a critical role in one’s personal level of job satisfaction. But what is it about this team that makes coming to work more interesting? Could it the communal participation of being part of a group and solving problems daily? At Appearition, it is the diversity which makes it enjoyable.

Diversity is not simply the varied ethnic background people hail from. It is also the spread in age groups, varied levels of of experience, and the amalgamation of multiple value systems and personal beliefs which make our team special. From the outside, a team of like-minded people appears cohesive – but underneath, if everyone is thinking alike then is anyone really thinking? Diversity brings forth a variation in thoughts offering a challenge to status quo.

At Appearition, we have team members ranging in age group from Millenials to Baby boomers. This blend of generations has given us the ability to develop new approaches problem solving whilst aligning to the bigger picture and vision we all share for our company.

Often having people on the team who have “been there and done that” means they can see envision some loop holes, even in what we sometimes believe to be our best laid plans. The younger generation – more savvy and tech-aware (sometimes!) combine a fresh and young “here’s the new tool which can help” attitude, contributing in their own unique way.

 

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Staff blog: Difference between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

By now, you would have either experienced Pokemon Go or collided with someone or the other walking around trying to find a pokemon on the streets. Everyone has described this as the first mainstream implementation of Augmented Reality, and frankly speaking it took me a long time to understand exactly what that meant. As with most mysteries – a quick search on google provided the following insight;

Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. (Wikipedia)

If you share my limited degree of technology awareness, this definition blog-arvr-img1would provide nothing but more confusion. However, experience assisted in crossing this knowledge barrier when my colleague provided a simple demonstration.  Opening an app on his phone and scanning a piece of paper through the camera, the video of a dancing child popped up on the screen. Wherever he moved the camera and any angle, the girl stayed where she was as if she was standing there in reality. I started to realise that this technology is a lot more prevalent that I had originally thought.

Spurred on my newfound understanding, I revisited my trusted knowledge aide – Google – to discover the secrets of Virtual Reality

Virtual reality or virtual realities (VR), also known as immersive multimedia or computer-simulated reality, is a computer technology that replicates an environment, real or imagined, and simulates a user’s physical presence and environment to allow for user interaction. (Wikipedia)

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Given the larger context – this now made a lot more sense and Virtual Reality blew my mind, even more so that AR in fact. Once again, to fully experience the technology, I had put on the headset and watched a clip of sharks swimming around me as if I were underwater. This extraordinary experience was particularly significant as I suffer from Claustrophobia and never expected to experience an underwater dive like this. The first few moments were quite intimidating, but as I gathered my senses and got my breathing in control, I was left in awe. The other clip I would recommend was a recreation of Cirque du Soleil, an immersive experience in a live circus. That one, I enjoyed much more, because I felt as if I was standing among the performers and artists. It was even more real, given that the experience revolves around the user sitting on a chair, and not floating underwater

Both technologies have potential in the business world, for example, AR have been explored in the fashion world and furniture companies. AR can help people to see how a product would look for instance in their living room simply by using an app through their phone. And VR is being used in a variety of businesses as well, for instance Arctic Cat uses it to show their customers the new snow mobile model.

In my opinion, the biggest difference is that VR is a controlled environment, such as console gaming and experiencing things with your own eyes, whereas AR can be social and you can move around or even taking a walk with it.

I slowly started to see how the technologies also extend beyond the 319372292_725c2f0b53_bbusiness world, and into real life. As I look back on my traveling experiences back in Southeast Asia, most of the traveling involved taking a bus from town to town. One particular ride stood out in my memory, a particularly nervy bus ride from Luang Prabang to Louang Namtha in Laos. The bumpy roads of Laos take some getting used to and I felt most lucky that I don’t get car/bus nausea, being exposed to sailing from a young age. But the size of the bus and narrow roads across the hills and mountains made the ride challenging to sit properly and it went on and on for hours. I held on to the seat as my entire body tightened with every turn and bump. At one point we came to a stop, and I could barely see anything because it was night time and darkness surrounded the bus. I got up from my seat and came to the front and found out there was a tank truck that had fallen sideways on the side of the road. And at the same time there were other cars and buses tried to pass the traffic from the other side towards us. What made this whole situation difficult was the location; on the tight turn of a mountain.

When problems like these happen often in the roads of Southeast Asia, AR and VR could do a great deal of help to improve them. Have the exact measurements and calculating the size of the roads and buses, they can help to prevent accidents. Drivers could practice the turns and smoother rides. Infrastructure could be improved by testing new roads using the technology.

While this is just an idea of mine, I have observed in my travels that advanced technology has yet to become a mainstream in some areas, including in rural areas. But this is just an example for what kind of problems could be solved by AR and VR.  Such an advanced technology should be used to make the world a better place, more than just entertainment. Blunt as that sounds, there’s little to argue against the fact that the world could certainly be made a better place, sometimes!

 

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Innovation and Augmented Reality

Innovation and Augmented Reality is driven by creativity and fed by knowledge. Without taking risks and altering routines, we stick only to what we know, stagnate as a result. Creativity is founded in inspiration and expresses what we have learned. If to learn is through making mistakes, it is important to let go of the fear of failing and have an open mind. And who knows, an accidents can lead to discovery, like when the founder of Kellogg’s left his wheat sitting out and found them flaky and crunchy – giving us Kellogg’s corn flakes!

Here’s how I see innovation: Whether in business organizations or rebuilding relationships with family or friends. When I came across a problem or something that could be done better, that is innovation coming alive. My process begins with brainstorming as many ideas I can think of. Secondly, I plan the idea and how I could go about implementing it. Finally, action – and testing it out to see if it works. If it doesn’t work, always remember to try the other ideas! It might sound simple, but that’s one of the ways to do it. With the help of great World Wide Web, the information out there are limitless, in my opinion.

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The biggest tool in innovation today is the internet. Innovation projects are booming more and more these years. Personally, I get more messages through online apps than regular SMS, for instance through Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger or Snapchat. Of these, Snapchat is probably the social media platform that promotes augmented reality faster than any other social media platforms. The app uses filters that transform faces to animal ears or scary faces and it is becoming one of the most popular use with youngsters. One other thing that is popular these days, is the Pokemon Go game. Pokemon is a Japanese game where players have to catch Pokemon creatures and teach them to battle. The game was popular in the beginning of 2000 and played using physical cards. The Pokemon Company released a modernized Pokemon game on a smart phone, and called it Pokemon Go. The game is located based augmented reality mobile game. Within three days after being released it was the most downloaded app in the US.

Augmented reality was first mentioned in 1901 by the author who wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. He had an idea of an electronic display that overlays data onto life, naming it ‘character marker’. But the term Augmented Reality was attributed first time in 1990 by a former Boeing researcher Thomas P. Caudell. Today, augmented reality is being more used in exhibitions, galleries or a simple guide through a city by using an app on your smartphone. And of course in games and social media too!

 

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AWE 2016

News: AWE2016

Appearition team of four went to Santa Clara and held an exhibition with cooperation with Visionstar from China at AWE2016 (Augmented World Expo) that was held 1-2 june. It was the first time Appearition was part of the exhibition. We enjoyed every bit of the conference and were enthusiastic about the experience we had. Definitely […]

Staff blog: AR for people with mental challenges and disabilities

Children make up the largest proportion of the population with intellectual disability, with around one-quarter being under the age of 15 years (ABS). Around the world people with other disabilities may include up to 18% of the population (US Census). The recognition that our community needs to integrate everyone, providing opportunities and resources to include everyone in worthwhile pursuits, has forced governments to create legislation to ban biased practices that reduce opportunities for the disabled. In some cases attempts to improve access to resources that create a path to life long learning have also been framed in law (Australian Disability Discrimination Act, The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, The Equality Act 2010 and the United Nations (UN) Convention on disability rights).

blog-disabilities-imgTechnology has also advanced to the point that tools are being created to provide significant assistance with people with disabilities in areas including cognitive development; social learning and communication; physical rehabilitation and spatial/localization recognition (to list a few achievements). Exciting applications have already been implemented with greater success that was anticipated. Children with autism have happily engaged with play and social learning activities utilizing various AR applications that promote healthy social interaction (International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality Conference 2012 and 2013). International studies have reported increased participant motivation, enjoyment, perceived improvement and exercise compliance leading to enhanced physical ability following the inclusion of AR and VR tools into stroke rehabilitation (Industrial research, New Zealand). Visually impaired people can look forward to using software which tracks objects and captures depth to provide auditory and haptic cues that describe a new environment (Google Project Tango). Potential workers with an intellectual disability can gain access to AR tools that engage with their environment to provide training, learning re-enforcement, and other work related information to ensure safe and efficient work practices (Spain, Augmented Reality for e-labora project).

The era of AR/Virtual Reality and AI supported systems and applications is here. Its initial usage might have been heralded mainly by AR/VR games, but the realization of a universe of possibilities now extends to enhancing the lives of people with disabilities. We have the impetus now to continue to develop systems that will greatly impact on people’s lives for the better. We must embrace the challenge with the excitement and enthusiasm it deserves.

 

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Staff blog: Brief history of Greenlands’ technology

blog-greenland-img-nuukMy knowledge in technology have been limited most of my life. I’m a proud Inuit who is born and grew up in Nuuk, Greenland. My passion for traveling has led me to Melbourne, Australia end of 2015, and eventually started working for Appearition Pty Ltd. The technology I followed was the one happening at home. First computer. First cell phone. I used to have this Siemens cell phone in my teenage years which I loved, because I could change the cover every month with colourful or boyband pictures.

However, my knowledge in technology first expanded when I started working for Appearition. A whole new world opened and I was amazed how the technology is that advanced today. I have to be honest though, things had to be explained to me more than once because I did not understood and couldn’t get my head around on some technology, such as Augmented Reality. With that being said, I’d like to tell you a little about my culture.

blog-greenland-img3Before the European explorers arrived to Greenland in the 1600’s, the Inuit’s lived in houses made of stones and peat, and wore reindeer and seal skin as clothes. Inuits used bones of whales and other arctic animal as tools and equipment. They believed in nature spirits before Christianity was introduced by Hans Egede, a Danish missionary, in the beginning of 1721. After Europeans began to travel to Greenland and started introducing of the modern world, Inuits began to build houses using woods. And to keep you in mind, trees do not grow in Greenland and this was an advantage for the Europeans to trade with the Inuits. When Hans Egede travelled to Greenland, he took building materials with him, such as concrete, barrels, coal and cobber.

The very first wooden houses were churches in bigger settlements such as Nuuk, Sisimiut and Ilulissat, and after the churches, they build hospitals. As you can imagine, the technology came to Greenland much later compared to other countries. Here’s the timeline of technology:

  • In 1921 the first telegram was imported to Greenland due to Danish Royal visit.blog-greenland-img1
  • First electricity generator was built in 1948.
  • Television was imported to the country in 1960s.
  • Greenland was digitalized in 1995.

Today, we Inuit, use latest cell phones, flat screen TV’s, laptops and so on. Although we still don’t have the luxury of paying with paywave, but Im sure the technology will be imported pretty soon. You should have seen my face when I first witnessed the paywave process with my Inuit eyes. Oh boy, what a whole new world.

 

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Staff blog: Innovation and processes

Innovation are more than just ideas that create value. These ideas need to be aligned with an organization’s strategy and create value to be an innovation. Processes help take this idea and systematically helps analyze its strategic fit, build on the hypothesis, test it and help roll out the changes necessary to make the innovation a part and parcel of the operations. Processes also help measure the success of such changes with appropriate metrics through various project and program management frameworks.

blog-disabilities-imgOften innovation may arise from one of two knowledge domains, explicit domain and the tacit domain. True breakthroughs happen when both these converge – where we leap into a completely new way of doing things through scientific- technological means by directly addressing tacit things -like consumers’ needs and wants. Facebook and Google have pioneered in this type of innovation both fueled by technology and the changing psyche of the consumer. Innovations of this nature challenge traditional methods of working and organizing and typically create new markets. Whilst process design and flows are key to a sustainable organization are they effective where innovation of such capacities are concerned? The answer lies in how flexible and agile are these processes.

Processes may prove to be rigid and provide challenges in situations where technology and requirements are volatile. It also makes supporting integrated and unstructured work efforts difficult. With our play in the AR/VR space we understand how quickly technical and delivery milestones change. We realize that context is king – when it comes to processes. The dynamic nature of the market, and the growth curve that these technologies currently experience means are we need to use processes to set some boundaries and guide our mental models but not limit them. Often pre-built process models can be used as a baseline to build or dynamically amend to suit the context we are in. For best results and enabling innovation at the speed it needs to be in today’s market – Process needs to be driven by the context – Goals to be met, time at hand and resources available. Dynamic processes are challenging to conceive as it breaks the traditional thinking of process as a rigid way of working.

To be valid (let alone grow and thrive) we need to break through this structured flow chart driven process methodologies and thinking to one where processes are semi structures guidelines, driven by business events and require embedded decision making. I am sure as we are poised to ride the wave of augmented and virtual technology innovations – the related frameworks and support processes will also need to be reinvented.

 

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Staff blog: Designing user interfaces for Augmented Reality

Augmented reality brings the interactive experience to the user by providing real world environment. This Augmented reality concept related to the virtual reality where the user experiences the virtual or artificial environment. But for augmented reality, real world objects need to be provided instead of virtual environment.

blog-artech-img1The definition of the graphical user interface is ‘a visual way of interacting with a computer using items such as windows, icons, and menus, used by most modern operating systems’. In the early years of the technology, users use the mouse and keyboard to interact the computer or the systems. Then the ways of interaction change dramatically. In the history of computing, user interaction with the computer has divided by three eras: batch (1945 – 1968), command-line (1969 – 1983) and graphical user interface (1984 and after).

Xerox Star workstation introduced the first commercial graphical user interface in the early 80s. From that point, GUI takes full control of the interaction between users and the computer applications.

Design user interface for an Augmented Reality applications differs from other application developments in many ways. Recent years AR applications create a new way of interaction between users and the applications. It provides the opportunities to the user to interact with the application dynamically via their behaviors. This is the main difference between the AR user interfaces and other application user interfaces which interact with pre-defined static graphical user interfaces. AR applications use 2D and 3D objects in various graphical user interfaces throughout the applications to interact with the user to engage them in experiences the new emerging technology.

Challenges in designing user interface for AR

AR user interfaces face usability challenges for providing too much information and make difficult to determine an applicable action to the user. Researchers and experts in the AR industries often discusses some key questions which designers should focus to address the usability concerns. Some of the key questions listed below.
1. Can the user tell the difference between reality and the

 

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