Ipoh, Malaysia

AR: Before the Launch

I'm bootstrapping my AR startup. The bootstraps are frayed; my boots have no heels; they've been pounded against the pavements of Southeast Asia.

I march without a laptop; using internet cafes and the computers in hotel lobbies. My partner and I are researching the foods of Southeast Asia; one of our AR characters is Bubiko Foodtour, a little chef. Bubiko is on her way to becoming AR's first superstar. Goal: become the Pixar of AR: original characters and software.

First project: an AR photo exhibition of Ipoh, Malaysia. Why? I have a BFA in Photography, have published a book of photos and have exhibited photos, art and video around the world. Secondly, photos result in smaller file sizes than 3D models. Finally, with very limited time and budget, it's better to learn the realities of producing an AR project with the simplest project possible. First mover advantages--and challenges-- belong to first movers.

Here are the biggest challenges so far:


What a mess! I am introducing the AR photo exhibition to people who are trend conscious and cosmopolitan. However, AR is either unknown or confused with VR."Oh... the thing you put on your head, right?..." I've introduced AR to staff at Apple and Samsung stores. At this point I have no mock-up, so for examples, I use Pokemon and the idea of holograms. My presentation also includes links to videos like this and this.


I write to the developers, fellow AR practitioners, potential investors, potential artistic collaborators, potential sponsors, potential distributors, potential business partners, bloggers and publicists. Some days are nothing but emails. Very necessary, all of this, but also a major use of time and energy which doesn't immediately translate into production.

RESEARCH/exploring the unknown...

Checking, checking and checking again. Has someone done this before? Why has this bug only shown up once? How big will the photos appear? The border of "visible reality" surrounding the images: how big should it be? How to best prepare for the variety of tablet and mobile screen sizes?

PAIENCE... never enough.

AR beta testing
from IPOH: 38 iPhone photos by Bubiko Foodtour. The world's first AR project. Photo by Claire Monfray
testing an AR app
Photo by Claire Monfray

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