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The Face Race: Virtual, Augmented & Mixed Reality Competitor Matrix.

Get ready for the Face Race as the number of companies developing and launching Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and even Augmented Virtuality devices starts to ramp-up.

Sure, companies like Oculus VR and Sony (for virtual reality) and Google (for augmented reality) are getting most of the headlines but there’s a whole lot of competition heading their way.

Using the rather useful Reality–virtuality continuum we’ve laid out the current market for companies in the sector and their relative stage of development. First-up, let’s start by explaining and defining the spectrum.

Reality–virtuality continuumStarting on the left we have the spatial real world – what we see and experience with our bodies without any technological enhancement.

Moving along the spectrum, the first technological enhancement is Augmented Reality. This is a live view of the real world with a small proportion (under circa 25%) of digital information added (i.e. augmented) into our field of view. The best example of an AR device is Google Glass.

Jumping to the far right, we have Virtual Reality. Virtual Reality is a 3D virtual environment accessed via a headset. VR is 100% immersive meaning the wearer of the headset does not see their real-world surroundings. In VR, users interact within a virtual world.

This leaves the middle ground, known as ‘Mixed Reality’ or ‘Augmented Virtuality (AV)’. AV is an interesting area because it covers from 25% digital enhancement right up to 99%. Wikipedia defines AV as ‘the merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualisations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time’.

In later posts we’ll dive deeper into Mixed Reality applications but for now, here’s our competitor roadmap for companies operating in this range of segments.

kzero virtual reality headset map

Starting with Augmented Reality companies, there are two publicly available products, Google Glass and the Vuzix M100. However, there’s both tech titans and start-ups gearing up for market entry. These include Epson and Samsung in the former classification and i2i in start-up mode. We anticipate all three of these products being available within six months. Expanding the time range, Sony, LG and Microsoft are all rumoured to be working on their own versions of augmented reality. Continue reading →

Consumer Virtual Reality – State of the Market report

The Consumer Virtual Reality sector is gaining momentum and 2014 will be the year we see the first devices made available to the public. Of course, VR is a technology that has been around for a little while but more within the enterprise and military sectors. With gaming companies looking for the next competitive edge and other newer companies raising funding to open up the consumer market, expect a lot of activity in the Consumer Virtual Reality Device sector this year.

And it’s not just the devices (hardware) that will enter the market. An emerging ecosystem of supporting companies – game developers, body/motion tracking start-ups and last but not least players will be diving into the consumer VR space.

We’re been hard at work for a while now gathering our thoughts and insight into consumer VR and our new report: Consumer Virtual Reality – the State of the Market is now available to order.

The report is aimed at C-level execs, marketers and IP owners looking to enhance their knowledge and understanding of the consumer virtual reality market and lays-out the key fundamentals of the space.

The report contains the following sections: Continue reading →

Seeing through Google Goggles

In December 2oo9 Google announced Google Goggles, an Android app that allowed visual search from a smartphone. In essence this tied together geo-location and ‘light’ image recognition to identify landmarks (for example) or alternatively read a barcode. As Google usually does, Google Goggles was marked as a ‘Labs’ product meaning work in progress. Here’s a video explaining this launch relating to the app expansion over to the iPhone.

…And people got very excited, primarily due to the reference to this app being Google’s first foray into Augmented Reality. Putting two and two together, analysts and commentators were keen to point that that this was a natural move for Google because this type of app or device would allow the layering of local, geo-fed data into a real-time view.

More recently (last week in fact) Google ramped up the Goggle PR machine. CEO Larry Page wore the next evolution of the smartphone app, namely a pair of glasses during his speech at the annual Google Zeitgeist event in London. This new wearable version of Goggle is code-named Project Glasses and comes with GPS and a camera. And here’s a video of that.

And then Google went a step further and pushed out a video of Project Glasses recording video.  Which of course is making people slightly more excited.


This post isn’t an exploration of the application of AR. Instead, it’s an exploration into what Google could actually be planning longer term with a Google Goggles type application. And rest assured it’s not about delivering contextual advertising. It’s about Life-Logging.

Let’s start by taking a look at the Metaverse Roadmap to see how Life-Logging (and AR) fit into the ‘bigger picture’. Here at KZero towers you know we’re all about virtual worlds but we’re also all about how virtual worlds fit into a longer term and wider architecture. The Metaverse Roadmap framework does a brilliant job at presenting this picture.

Virtual worlds, as shown in the diagram are ‘Intimate Simulations’, meaning you experience a virtual world usually on your own in a private setting (i.e. via a lap/desk top) and what you experience is a Simulated (i.e. created) environment. And hey, 1.7bn cumulative registered accounts ain’t bad so clearly people love spending time in virtual worlds.

Mirror worlds are the sisters to virtual worlds and whilst still being Simulations, they are External as opposed to Intimate, meaning they reflect (or mirror) the real-world – they’re based on real-world places. Tourism and time-travel are two interesting uses for mirror worlds.

Let’s get more to the point.

Augmented Reality fits into the Metaverse Roadmap as being the polar opposite to virtual worlds. The experience is External as opposed to Intimate. Meaning you use AR away from the ‘desktop’ and on the streets, so to speak. And rather than being a simulated environment, the experience is one of Augmentation, i.e. data (information) is added to (augmented) into your field of view. Pretty cool and of course set to be a multi-billion Dollar industry pretty soon.

And leaves us with Lifelogging. This is the sector that to date has garnered virtually zero coverage. This is the segment which I believe is THE long term play for Google, with Google Goggles, or Project Glasses, or whatever you want to call it, being front and centre of the strategy. Continue reading →

Augmented Reality Brand Tracking

Here’s an update to our presentation showing the use of augmented reality by brands and companies.

Augmented Reality Brand Tracking

KZero services:


Business Planning


Product Development

Another AR app: Olympus

KZero services:


Business Planning


Product Development

Google StreetView and advertising in virtual worlds: Spark 100 Podcast

Screen shot 2010-01-23 at 06.53.08Here’s a Spark 100 podcast from CBC Radio in Toronto.

I’m discussing (towards the end) the recent Google StreetView patent relating to ad overlays and the implications of real/virtual world advertising.

Augmented Reality brand tracking presentation

Following on from our first post tracking brands using AR, this is an on-going presentation we’ll update each month. We’ve got 2009 pretty much covered and activity is now broken down by major sector, with the Automobile, Apparel, Media/Entertainment and Food/Drink categories broken-out specifically. Here’s the presentation.

AR + VW = Latest Adidas campaign

As our augmented reality brand tracking shows, Adidas has been an early adoper of marker-based initiatives. There first foray into this field was early 2008 with a simple shoe rendering app, shown below (bottom of the article). This was followed-up with their ‘Every team needs a spark’ campaign earlier this year (video also below).

adidas-augmented-realityThis time around they’ve juiced up the creativity a little and laid out a virtual world, activated by a marker on the sneaker tongues of a new line of shoes launched this February.

From Wired:

“The foundation of augmented reality lies in adding a layer to the real world,” says Chris Barbour, head of digital marketing for Adidas Originals. “That’s what we have done. We have taken a real world item and added a fantastic virtual world on top of that”

All users have to do is go to the Adidas site and hold up their sneaker, which has a code embedded in its tongue, in front of their computer webcam. A virtual world then pops out in front of them and they can navigate it using their sneaker as a controller.

“We are not trying to mimic a real-world look, we have a more stylized, pop-up book creative approach,” says Barbour. “The neighborhood is displayed on a two dimensional computer screen, but you can use your shoe to control the angle and depth of view and zoom in and out, giving a 3-D sense of perspective.” Continue reading →

Automobiles and Augmented Reality. Too fast too curious?

Car makers have led the way in terms of adopting new marketing channels. First came virtual worlds (with both official and unofficial cars mainly in Second Life) and now it’s the turn of augmented reality and some have been doing it for a little while. Here’s a video round-up to complement the Brand Tracking.

Continue reading →

Tracking brands in Augmented Reality

Back in the day (well, 2007), we used to track brands entering Second Life (and a few other worlds) on a timeline basis vs the SL registered user base. You can see some few, for the Retail, Technology, Media, Automobile and Tourism sectors.

Since those ‘heady days’ we’ve seen companies shift over to a wide range of other virtual worlds and we now track VW brand marketing in this presentation. Continuing this theme, we’ve just released a similar chart, this time monitoring brands dipping their toes into augmented reality. Efforts to date are obviously all marker-based.

And, whilst those in the know are all waiting for markerless AR, it’s interesting to see how brands (and their agencies) attempt to place their products and services into this new platform. Comparing these efforts to the largely ineffective campaigns in Second Life highlights a key creative difference. The vast majority of brand efforts in SL made the key mistake of attempting to think spatially (because it’s inside a virtual w0rld) rather than concentrate on values (both brand and product). This resulted in over 150 brands thinking they had to have a company HQ – a building built.

Even given the limitations of marker-based AR, it’s encouraging to see a little more creativity being used in these early marketing attempts. The graph below shows when brands first launched their campaigns, compared against a Google Trends line for the search term ‘Augmented Reality‘.

ar brand tracking.001

Automobile brands once again (as they did with SL marketing) appear to be leading the pack in terms of adopting AR into their marketing arsenals, followed by media/entertainment companies and then food and drink.

This last category always struggled with virtual world marketing – not surprisingly because they are two things avatars do not need, in a basic sense.

As we move into 2010, expect the buzz around AR (and the search volumes) to grow rapidly, with brands not far behind. We’ll be breaking this chart out by sector in the new year.

KZero services:


Business Planning


Product Development

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