This is a draft. A different, final version of this story will appear in Coffee Traveler magazine later this year. If you know of any examples of AR being used in the coffee industry, do let me know!
Coffee and AR: Prepare for Impact!
Augmented Reality will soon be everywhere.
How can the coffee industry prepare itself for this
revolutionary new technology?
2017 can be considered the start of Augmented Reality. Six hundred million iPhones became enabled for AR. One hundred million Android users also gained AR functionality. Facebook, Microsoft, Intel and other companies released or improved AR products. Time magazine, in an issue guest-edited by Bill Gates, used AR on its cover. There is no doubt that AR will become a very, very big thing, as common as GPS.
But what is AR, Augmented Reality? And, in what ways will AR impact the coffee industry?
AR is a technology that combines digital data with the physical world. The digital data can be sound, text, graphics, video or 3D models (like what you see in many computer games.) The ”physical world” can be as large as the Sydney Opera House or as small as a matchbox: books, table tops, living rooms and parks-- anywhere! At present, AR can be experienced with phones and tablets, though special glasses, like Microsoft’s Hololens or Google Glass may become common. AR is used for industrial, educational, medical, entertainment,research and other purposes.
The first huge AR success was Pokemon GO, which hides digital creatures in real world locations. With Ikea’s AR app, customers can put digital furniture in their real homes, allowing them to select the best color and size. Coca Cola and Boeing, like many companies, use AR to aid in the repair and maintenance of machinery.
An Australian wine company called 19 Crimes created an app that allows the photographs on their labels to move, speak and tell stories. According to Forbes magazine, this AR app resulted in over one million cases of wine being sold, and an increase of volume sales by 60%.
AR is nearly unlimited; it can play audio, interact with users, function like GPS, display graphics, photos, videos and more. AR gamers fight flying spaceship battles in their bedrooms. In restaurants, menu applications by KabaQ display AR models of food.
Starbucks, whose first AR project was launched in 2011, recently created a “coffee wonderland” in Shanghai. Called the Roastery, it features a number of AR experiences. Its centerpiece is a huge copper vessel covered with almost three thousand hand carved Chinese seals that tell the story of Starbucks. Using AR, visitors can “look inside” the huge structure, and see the beans being poured in, roasted, and then finally transported through copper pipes to the coffee bars.
Because they have come to the Roastery specifically to experience,and learn about coffee, visitors are likely to download the digital tour guide. There is also a QR code version. When planning to make an AR app, the first issue is: download or not? The second being the Apple/Android issue.
An augmented reality app is used in the new Starbucks Roastery in Shanghai, China. Photographed on Friday, December 1, 2017. (Joshua Trujillo, Starbucks)[/caption]
It is a wonderful idea to create a customized AR app, what is called a “native” app. However, potential users may be discouraged by file size and download time. A native app may not be the best choice at trade shows or public spaces without high speed wifi. Fortunately, not all AR requires a native app. And, there is WebAR, which works on both Apple and Android and does not requirea download, only a link.
The Roastery chose AR because it was the best solution-- not because AR is trendy. Perhaps they could have used video monitors- but how many? And where to position them? Plus, visitors would not be able to pause, replay or start the presentation.
photo by Eva Yoo. Used with permission
Location: companies with big budgets can create AR experiences for large spaces. Snapchat put giant AR sculptures by Jeff Koons in front of the Eiffel Tower and in Central Park. Waterloo Station was the site of an AR game created by Cadbury, and AR rhinos roamed in the Rotterdam train station, thanks to National Geographic.
Augmented Reality is now used in homes, factories, airplanes, and living rooms. It is becoming a new medium, like radio or television. AR is becoming an artform and, in advertising, AR is connecting producers and consumers in new ways. It will be interesting to watch the seeds of AR grow in the world of coffee.
Stephen Black is an artist, writer and producer. He is now completing a novel about an archild, an AR software that looks like a ten-year old girl. His startup aims to be the Pixar of AR. Look out for Bubiko Foodtour! www.blacksteps.tv
A very special thanks to Antony Vitillo for technical proofreading and great ideas galore. Antony’s blog is called The Ghost Howls
(http://skarredghost.com). He is a consultant at New Technology Walkers
Photo of phone/Chinese seals: courtesy of Starbucks
Antigone Cloud is the name of the novel I'm now working on (it is related to my AR startup). I won't say anything more, as the text below should give a clue or two. Please keep in mind that the following is minimal; in the book, there are visual cues and other devices to provide more information. My thinking is that if the following basic dialogue can be understood, then the planned text additions will only make the scene easier to understand, and more pleasant to read.
PLEASE leave a comment or question, of any kind. THANK YOU
And, if you have any visual materials that are even remotely related to young adults, AR and/or Southeast Asia, I would be very happy to feature them on my blog and elsewhere. Drawings, 3D scans, 3D models.. anything. I would really love to see images of young people recorded with 3D volumetric cameras. I would, of course, credit and backlink, as well as share information about your image/software/company/artistic motivation.
Antigone meets Yves
Yves Arc: Hello... archild. (He emphasizes ‘child”, drawing it out, stretching his mouth into a terrible smile.)
Antigone Cloud: I’m...I’m...
Yves Arc: You're the blip that popped up on TPS last night, correct? 6:17PM. Your Source is on the 5th floor, room 521. In the Life Shelter, on a shelf above a bicycle.
Antigone Cloud: Your voice is like Sir Caboose! Are your Pparents from Cambridge? Do you have a bedder?
Yves Arc: Someone has the international pop culture app, now don’t they? Your Pparents would seem to have excellent taste. Yes, my voice was inspired by Sir Caboose.
And your voice? American? (Yves coughs).
Antigone Cloud: Yes. Sailor Jayne.
Yves Arc: ... oh. A pop star...
(Yves coughs again.)
Well, we can’t all have the voices of Liz and Dick, now can we?
Antigone Cloud: I am sorry; can you repeat that?
Yves Arc: Repeat it? Why? I enounced and pronounced perfectly. 57 decibels. The ambient noise is easily canceled out. Obviously you lack culture-related software. Richard Burton. Elizabeth Taylor. Dick and Liz! Superstars of stage and cinema. The most fabulous couple of the modern age. Nec plus ultra!
(Yves looks at her, sees his reflection in her glasses. Sighs.)
I suppose I should simply state everything in Star Quest mode. Or would you prefer cartoon mode?
Antigone Cloud: Star Quest mode, please. (in a quiet voice). Thank you.
Yves Arc: What age you are supposed to be?
Antigone Cloud: Ten.
Yves Arc: Ten? Why, when I was a ten-year old, I was in charge of a factory with 34 air conditioners,18 surveillance cams, 9 quality control systems, 6 robots and an assembly line 28.9 meters long that constantly needed replacement parts from a mythical place in China! Plus, overseas clients. Six languages!
Antigone Cloud: I don’t believe you! You're just a boy!
Yves Arc:: First of all, in three days I will be upgraded to arman. Second, I have been carefully curated by...
Antigone Cloud: Curated!? You mean you’re made with a bunch of mixed up old software junk with a bunch of new programs that are buggy. Buggy buggy buggy!
(Antigone sings the last two lines of a commercial.)
We are curates, tried and true,
Helpful curates and we love you!
Yves Arc: Please stop. It's tacky.
(Antigone’s expression shows that she doesn’t understand.)
The commercial... it takes advantage of lonely people who don’t have much money. It doesn’t care for them. It doesn’t care for arbots.
(Yves watches the palm trees react to the wind).
Antigone Cloud: But it has achieved economic success.
Yves Arc: Yes, Commander, affirmative. A lot of us have been sold.
Antigone Cloud: 37% of all curates are removed from TPS within the first month.
Yves Arc: That statistic would seem to be true.
(He looks worried.) I must reSource now. The increasing humidity is decreasing my strength.
Antigone Cloud: Me too. (She looks at Yves with apprehension) Your TPS is a fifth floor flat above Books Hontoni? In the Life Shelter, on a rattan chair with a broken seat?
A gao yord tattoo just below one boxer’s Adam's apple, a tiger on the back of the other. Their bones and muscles glisten beneath the stadium lights like warm, metallic oil. They study each other. They move. Flicker. The fighter in red pirouettes, then launches a punch made of rock. Impact! The crowd roars. Bravely, the one in blue stumbles. He finally gains focus again; his gloves shoot up like a shield. He moves forward. Jabs: left, left, left. An elbow to the right. His eyebrow becomes a dripping red line...
The girl looks bored.
The above, or a version of it, is likely the opening of Lida Cloud, the book I am in the midst of writing. Lida is an arbot in the form of a ten-year old girl.
The story of Lida is a topic for another day. For now, the image of the boxing ring is symbol for both Life and AR.
I would like to thank Thaifight for allowing me behind the scenes for their recent tournament. I am still compiling my notes on those two days into a documentary type article.
Thanks also to Graham Meyer for responding so professionally. The opportunity to write about the tournament happened very quickly, and all I had was an iPhone. Graham magically appeared, thanks to Christian Hogue. Graham's other images of the tournament are are excellent, so much that they would overpower this bit of writing!
Lida Cloud is a ten year old girl with a body like a ghost and a mind like a computer. She is an archild, an augmented reality companion. Lida lives in Singapore, but wants to live on a mountaintop. Lida and her two friends, a dolphin named Sinus and a giraffe named Mugi, journey across Southeast Asia looking for the perfect mountain.
I will be talking about Lida Cloud at the Singapore Young Writers Festival. The book is a personal writing challenge and a way to increase my understanding of how markerless AR might work. Though the book is fictional, the AR used in the book is based on a unified light field delivery system which does not yet exist. Unified light field system AR seems to be the basis of Magic Leap's research.
After some thought, I decided that Lida would exist within a 3 meter square space. She can be seen from anywhere, any distance away, but all of her motions must take place within that 3 meter cube.
Lida is projected from a Source. A Source is a fictitious device/app that is like a Kinect, but in reverse. A Kinect is all about recording sound and motion within a 3D space; a Source is about projecting light and sound into a space.
A Source would require huge amounts of battery power. To maintain realism, I am treating battery life almost as though it were part of Lida’s personality. However, Lida is not based on hard science.
Lida is an archild, or an arkid. The words combine AR (augmented reality) with “child” and “kid”. The word “arbot” also appears in the book. After I had been using the word "arbot " for a while, I researched to see if the word is actually being used. I could only find this. Presently, there are, of course, robotic companions. Books have been populated by robots since the playwright Karel Capek created the word “robots” almost one hundred years ago. Physicality may be the biggest difference between robots and arbots. Arbots, though they appear to be three-dimensional, are made of light. This means that they cannot perform actions like picking things up.
“Beings made of light” could be a description of an arbot. The phrase itself is loaded with religious and new age associations. Not a bad thing, perhaps, but Lida will be as "normal" and "human" as she can be, even in fantastic and unrealistic situations.
Lida Cloud and Publishizer are now in discussions about crowdfunding. Please get in touch if you can support, especially if you know of any book clubs or libraries. Lida Cloud will be likely presented as a novel for young adults, but it is also full of information on Southeast Asia. Food too!