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Augmented Reality There was a glut of press attention given recently to a free Android and iPhone application called "Chestburster" which allowed users to see a 3D ‘alien’ type creature emerge and come to life when viewing a particular static image along with gory sound effects. This image could be downloaded from their website and placed; for example, on a t-shirt / computer screen or as a printed image. Whilst this was very much a niche ‘toy’ to demonstrate the possibilities it is a powerful reminder that augmented reality (AR) is very much here and all of the tools required to utilise it are available now. AR uses static ‘trigger’ images or location data such as GPS to overlay virtual content on top of the real world. This virtual overlay can then be interacted with based on user input if they so wish. To bring people up to speed and help explain the possibilities we can look to Google as a good example of usage. Apple have been developing wearable systems (iShades?) to provide AR functions since 2008 or earlier. Google have been working for just as long on "Project Glass" which is in effect a pair of clear glasses which overlays 3D virtual images and data onto a real 3D landscape. In a basic form it would effectively allow you to have a ‘Streetview’ style view of streets as you walk around in an area or for the purposes of directions. This could theoretically extend to whilst driving and can indicate locations of landmarks or retail outlets etc… Go a step further if you would and imagine looking at a retail outlets signage and suddenly it comes to life listing the current special offers and promotions. With this being Google of course the content of such promotions can be specifically targeted for your demographic or interests. They can even remind you of that item which you looked at before but didn’t buy at the time for which they can offer you a unique one off discount…. Billboards will just be blank canvasses in future, a man and woman walking down the road may see a different moving advertisement each or may even see a different advert if together than they would each see apart. Those in a vehicle would see the same billboard specific perhaps to the type of vehicle they are driving or their plans for that evening. This is aside from any seamless integration of social networking applications, checking in to locations, advising stores or restaurants of your details as you enter the premises… “Hello Mr. Smith, it’s good to see you again, did you enjoy the steak last week?” You can begin to see what could be achieved through careful application of this additional layer of reality when usage becomes common. - So you may rightfully ask ‘What does this mean to us in the Electronic Security Industry though Joe?’ Whilst it is arguably the retail and entertainment sectors that will see the most dramatic impact from this technology it still allows our industry many ways of capitalising on the technology to deliver our services more effectively and efficiently. Some examples could be as follows: Training Whilst there is no replacement for full on training it would be a powerful tool to allow engineers to see a video demonstration or a list of specifications when viewing a signalling device or alarm panel. A link can be given to contact the manufacturer or ARC or maybe to documentation or a replacement parts lists. Circuitry can be overlaid with plans and inputs and outputs labelled to millimetre accuracy in clear text and full colour with active links to enable context based content. This training can also be extended to security system users to explain how to reset an alarm or to help them understand how to omit a detector or zone or other such issues. Marketing It can be difficult sometimes to convey an important message in the short length of time in which you hold captive a persons attention whilst they read a brochure or advertisement. Through AR you have an opportunity to showcase your products and services in a manner that is relevant to the end user. Complex issues can be more effectively delivered through media playback or animated images or diagrams triggered by static images on a website or leaflet for example. Day to day usage Aside from training and graphical overlays it may be that suppliers can start to think more diversely in their approach. Why have a keypad on the wall at all if a virtual keypad could display upon approach for verified users carrying an authenticated fob or similar? Why not allow engineers to receive feedback from detector positioning and any masking to allow an overlay showing precisely where the detection covers within an environment during the installation of equipment? This data could even be used as a form of Kinect style visual overlay of a scene to provide ARCs with an image of the specific activity that led to an alarm activation so as to allow them to make an informed decision on a relevant handling procedure. Bell Boxes These already provide a form of advertising for Electronic Security companies but what if the same devices could trigger advertisements in full even with geographic based promotions? Imagine a virtual billboard on every home which can be constantly updated remotely if you wish? Promotional offers could be provided simply on the basis of having viewed an existing installation and then making an enquiry or you could even elect to provide some form of promotion for specific properties which generate enquiries based on their location. - I have only scratched the surface of some of the possibilities that could potentially be achieved. With a little imagination I am sure that each of you could find a way to use this technology to your advantage and I would ask that you begin to consider how you could go about utilising it to full effect in your own business by making it a reality before it becomes ubiquitous. The final word goes to T.S.Eliot... Human kind Cannot bear very much reality. Time past and time future What might have been and what has been Point to one end, which is always present
App-something?.... The recent launch of the Windows 8 operating system has become the flagship of a new thrust in technology culture that is here to stay if we like it or not. Windows are trying to push their desktop experience into the App based smartphone sector whilst at the same time crossing paths with Google who are busy working on selling their App based platform to desktop users. At the same time Apple is looking to futher improve communications between their many available devices to ensure a smooth user experience and to bond users more closely to their brand. Users are increasingly being taught to think less about the specific machine that they are using to access tools and data (Laptop / Mobile / PC) and to instead focus on a common interface and a shared pool of data. More content is being delivered to users in the 'App' format. By 'App' I mean simple, modular applications that are generally geared towards a specific focus area or subject. The aim in most cases is to simplify the interface used, allowing the more non-technical minded among us to interact in ways that would have been either slow or difficult to achieve previously. This combines with an ever increasing 'Always on' mindset to create a demand whereby users are surprised and disappointed if they can't 'find an app for that' when they search. Conversion One of the most common themes at the moment is the migration of existing products and services from a traditional email / letter / phone approach to instead utilise an App. What name is given to the process of converting something which is not an App into an App though? Imagine converting your hard copy lens calculator into an App, or maybe making your invoice payment system into an App. How do you describe this process of taking a none-app format procedure or task and making the same process achievable through an App? I came across this dilemma recently and discovered the following terms actively being used in this context: Appifying? (4.7k Google hits) Sounds satisfying but not quite self explanatory enough Appverting? (14.4k Google hits) "Converting into an App" sounds feasible however this term was hijacked by the marketing industry for use as 'Appvertising' (A failed marketing attempt to channel adverts to mobile devices) Appetising? (Huge number of irrelevant Google hits) Hungry? This causes confusion already... Apping? (576k Google hits) A term that is used already to cover many different non App based uses (Such as applying for something) Appification: (23.3k Google hits) Probably the most prominent term currently in use, perhaps also the least self explanatory one for ‘Joe Bloggs’ non-technical person Applicable applications Why would this process be important to the Electronic Security industry? Our industry already embraces this technology in many ways you could say, with many hardware manufacturers beginning to make interfaces to their products possible through apps. Is this the only narrow use for this approach though? We are a service industry. Many of the services we provide can be made more efficient or more easily accessible to a wider audience if converted to a format with which an end user can easily and securely access. Processes which currently soak up valuable staffing hours could instead be made automated or at least interactive. The evolving possibilities presented by the internet of things (IoT) and IPv6 offer amazing scope but also an amazing level of potential complexity. Apps could help organise and empower users so that they are able to be informed, advised and participatory in the naming and configuration process. Communication can be made much simpler and the secure sharing of information to relevant parties can be done in a transparent, seamless and immediate manner. Many of the back end systems currently utilised by Installers and ARCs have common protocols such as SOAP or XML available which means that your App can directly interface with your core products if you wish. You may find it worthwhile to take some time to stand back from your organisation and consider how you could use this ‘App momentum’ to your advantage. There is potential for all sectors of our industry to take advantage of this migration including but not limited to Installers, ARCs and service providers. How can you empower your end users and staff through this technology?
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