The patent, USP #8,275,590, relates to the simulation of trying on one or more virtual-wearable items within a video feed, the ability to use gestural controls to navigate through the interfaces and take pictures to share with your friends, all from within the WSS interface.
WSS can be used with a wide variety of “video feeds”, such as via PCs, tablets, smartphones, depth-sensing cameras (e.g. Kinects), connected TVs, kiosks, eyewear (e.g. Google Glass)… you name it. In essence, WSS relates to what is now commonly referred to as a “digital mirror” or a “virtual dressing room”.
Other features of the patent and/or WSS include the following:
ANY VIRTUAL, WEARABLE ITEMS: This isn’t just about trying on virtual clothing. Virtual Jewelry, glasses, watches, purses, and anything else that’s “wearable”.
SIZING & FIT: The method of using body part detection & recognition to determine a wearable item’s size and fit is covered.
SOCIAL SHOPPING: This element is actually covered in two ways.
Taking photos with the virtual, wearable item(s) and sharing them via social networks.
Multiple people trying on virtual, wearable items simultaneously, and having a shared shopping experience within a video-chat or conferencing environment.
GESTURE, MOTION AND VOICE CONTROL: Using gestures, motion and voice control to interact with, manipulate and purchase virtual, wearable items directly within the virtual dressing room interface.
Why is this patent important? Augmented reality powered “virtual dressing rooms” will play a critical role in retail’s multi-channel future, and it should be noted that we’re not alone in our thinking. It’s a vision of the future now shared by companies like Forrester, eMarketer, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft & eBay (note: we’re not claiming that these organizations endorse our platform, just that each of them support the space in general. Please click on the links above to see how).
So what does this “virtual dressing room” of the future look like? Imagine several friends video chatting. Ashley’s in front of her connected TV; Kara’s curled up on her couch, tablet in her hands; and, Christina’s out walking her dog, clutching her smartphone. Nothing too groundbreaking there, but now imagine that instead of simply chatting, they’re actually shopping together too. They’re browsing; trying on dresses, necklaces, glasses and hats; giving each other feedback; and, recommending items to one another. You see, the virtual dressing room of the future makes internet-connected shopping a truly social experience from any device.
Example visual representation of the virtual dressing room of the future.
As we alluded to earlier, cameras are now native in virtually every internet-connected device that people buy. And as hardware (and software) improves, the camera will ultimately function as another input device, right alongside the mouse/keyboard and the touchscreen. The camera (and microphone) though will allow for the most natural interface out of the three, an interface controlled by gestures, motions and one’s voice. In fact, we’re already seeing these types of interfaces in Samsung’s Smart TVs and in Microsoft’s Kinect. And it’s this “natural user interface” (NUI) that will provide the framework for the “virtual dressing room” of the future.
“We’ve been working on our commerce platform for nearly four years. Our first patent protects our current vision for the Webcam Social Shopper and aspects of our future vision for the platform in multi-channel retail.” said Matt Szymczyk, CEO of Zugara. “Our goal has always been to fundamentally change the way people shop. And today we took a huge step towards achieving that goal. It’s incredibly reassuring to know that the innovations we have been making in the retail space are finally recognized through the granting of this patent.”
Zugara is changing the face of multi-channel retail. Since 2009, we’ve been developing the Webcam Social Shopper (WSS), a patented commerce platform and interface that provides retailers with a more social, visual and fun experience for their shoppers.
ABOUT THE WEBCAM SOCIAL SHOPPER (WSS)
The current iteration of WSS utilizes augmented reality to turn a shopper’s webcam into a real-time interactive mirror. So a young woman can actually hold a dress up in front of herself, just like she would at the rack in a store, and immediately validate if an item’s style/color is right for her. No downloads, no plug-ins, no paper markers… it just works. www.webcamsocialshopper.com
If you are interested in licensing our patent or technology, please contact info@zugara(dot)com.
Investment in augmented reality development is one key to our industry’s success. So we thought we’d aggregate, and share a list of our industry’s “success stories”. We’d like this list to not only be about the developers that are getting venture capital funding, but the large corporations that are validating the space by investing their resources/money towards AR as well.
As you can see, the space is starting to heat up.
We’ll try to update this list regularly, so please feel free to add anything I’m missing in the comments.
Flutter Raises $1.4 Million For Gesture Recognition Tech (Link)
13th Lab raises $700,000 to build its ‘UI for reality’ (Link)
Ditto Picks Up $3 Million From August Capital, Others For Its Virtual, 3D Eyeglasses Sales Site (Link)
How To Attract Justin Timberlake: Here’s The Pitch Dekko Used To Snag The Celebrity Investor (Link)
Total Immersion gets $5.5M to expand augmented reality (Link)
Layar Augments Reality With $14M in New Funding (Link)
Tonchidot Raises $12 Million Round B, Expands Augmented Reality/Social Gaming Platform SoLAR Globally (Link)
EU backs ST-Ericsson to deliver augmented reality (Link)
Google, Apple Making Augmented Reality Cool Amid CES (Link)
Microsoft And TechStars Launch Kinect Accelerator For New Kinect-Based Startups (Link)
Qualcomm opens submissions for its $200,000 Augmented Reality Developer Challenge (Link)
Blippar raises seed funding from Qualcomm for mobile augmented reality technology (Link)
Gamma III structures first round funding of Mobilizy GmbH (Makers of Wikitude) (Link)
HP Acquires Control of Autonomy Corporation (Makers of Aurasma) (Link)
Augmented Reality App Maker CrowdOptic Scores $500,000 In New Funding (Link)
More funding news in Poland: augmented reality game ShootAR is backed by IIF (Link)
Every since the Microsoft Kinect came out, we’ve seen some talented individuals create some pretty amazing hacks demonstrating what the system is really capable of. Recently though, we’ve started to see “Commercial Hacks”, that is businesses hacking the system to create in store experiences for their consumers. I just wanted to point out real quick, (before you rush out and create your own hack) that these executions do not have Microsoft’s blessing. From an article in the Telegraph:
A Microsoft spokesman said: “While we are aware of hobbyists and third parties taking advantage of raw data to explore the exciting possibilities of Kinect for Xbox 360 for themselves, we do note, however, that any of these uses of Kinect for Xbox 360 are not licensed or authorized by Microsoft.”
Don’t worry, rumor has it that a commercial SDK will be available later this year… but, at this point it does seem to be only a rumor…
So here’s my biggest (work related) wish this holiday season: Microsoft opens up their Kinect platform for all developers.
Recently I posted my favorite hack (so far) for the Microsoft Kinect and it got me thinking. There’s a ton of amazing hacks being circulated right now, but here’s the problem: they’re hacks. You and I can’t actually play with any of the stuff. Think about what could be done if Microsoft opened up their platform and created a marketplace for all developers. A marketplace that would allow smaller developers to create amazing applications and profit from them accordingly… Similar to what Apple has done with the iPhone app store, and what’s starting to take place in the connected T.V. market.
Our newest Augmented Reality project is now live. It’s a Motion Capture based Augmented Reality game we concepted and developed for Nestle called “Nesquik Factory”. “Nesquik Factory” puts people in the role of being a new hire that’s put to work filling Nesquik bottles. To be successful at the job the player must keep the production line flowing by making sure the right flavor of milk goes into the right bottle.
By utilizing our proprietary Motion Capture Augmented Reality Software, “ZugMO”, we are able to turn a standard webcam into an input device that translates a person’s motions in front of the camera into data that casual Flash games can utilize. And since the software was developed in Flash, not a proprietary platform, players won’t be turned off by a bulky download or the like. ZugMO enabled us to create an immersive experience for Nestle’s customers by turning their webcam’s video stream into the Nesquik Factory. Now, rather than using a mouse or keyboard to play the game, people are actually in the game itself and using their motions to fill the Nesquik bottles.
“Motion based gaming is already popular, but it’s really poised to explode over the next six months,” said Matt Szymczyk, CEO, Zugara. “The Wii is the fastest selling console in history, and both Sony and Microsoft are launching their entries into the motion based gaming market this year. People will be clamoring for these types of experiences, and with ZugMO, brands can meet that demand by creating incredibly dynamic and engaging online flash games. The great thing about creating online games to engage your audience is that people won’t need to purchase any expensive hardware to play. All they need is what they most likely already have, a computer and a standard webcam.”
“Nesquik Factory” was developed to be a social gaming experience. To help players share the fun with friends and family a “snapshot” is automatically taken at that exact instant they lose. Then, if they choose, players can easily share their snapshot (and their score) on Facebook.
“It was a fantastic experience working with Nestle, and quite frankly they really challenged us to ‘up our game,’” Matt said. “It was incredibly important to them that an actual bottle of Nesquik be recognized by the application to initiate the experience. In the past, this type of execution required that the client put a marker on their packaging, or the consumer downloaded a proprietary plug-in. Neither option was acceptable. As you’ll see when you play the game, we were able to meet this challenge and have the application recognize the iconic Nesquik bottle without a marker or a consumer download.”
Brands and agencies looking to either purchase the ZugMO Software Development Kit (SDK), or couple the SDK with our interactive marketing services like Nestle did can contact us at: info (at) Zugara (dot) com.
ABOUT ZUGARA Zugara is an employee owned Los Angeles based Augmented Reality Software developer. Founded in 2001 Zugara is the only Augmented Reality Software developer with an expertise in consumer engagement strategy, user experience design, and interactive production. This is because prior to restructuring as an Augmented Reality Software Developer in 2009, Zugara was an interactive marketing agency that created award winning work for Fortune 500 Brands like Reebok, Sony PlayStation, Toyota, Lexus, Casio, Red Bull and the U.S. Air Force.
“@Drew” Twitter Handle is up for grabs to the highest bidder. Proceeds will go to the Livestrong Foundation and Drew Carey has promised to pay $1 million if he gets 1 million followers by years end… Still think Twitter provides no value?
So, on 6/3/09 Microsoft launched their latest and greatest search engine “discovery engine”, Bing.com. The term “discovery engine” seems to be very popular these days, as “Simpsons did it”Twitter used it back in April. But that’s neither here nor there, theft is the highest form of flattery they say. The previous two sentences probably isn’t news to you, Bing.com ads are everywhere thanks to an $80 – $100 million ad spend this year. So, I decided to check in with compete.com, to see if all those dollars are actually driving traffic. As you will see below, they are. One month in business and Bing is over 1/3rd of the way to Yahoo and Google’s traffic numbers.
Now, obviously, effectively monetizing that traffic brings a whole host of questions that the compete.com data can’t provide answers too, so we’ll just avoid it for now. But when you look at that data below, it’s interesting to see that yahoo and google’s traffic didn’t dip. That is, Bing’s 50 million unique visitors didn’t seem to really affect anyone else’s traffic. Which raises the question in my mind: Are people actually using (and going to continually use) Bing.com? Now, perhaps the Ask.com’s of the world are the ones losing out, but perhaps Bing’s traffic is “just looking”. That is, the media raised awareness, and people are checking out the site, but at the end of the day habits are not being changed. We know people love Google. Could it be that they don’t see anything special about Bing? That there’s no real differentiator and subsequently no reason to leave Google? Admittedly, that’s the experience I had when checking out Bing.
So what did you think of Bing? Do you think people are converting? When the media dollars stop (or slow), will traffic plummet? I’d love to hear your thoughts…
Have you heard about Microsoft’s Project Natal (it’s currently trending on twitter)? If you haven’t, it promises to allow you to play your XBox 360 without a controller, and was just announced at E3 out here in LA. Sadly, there’s no price or release date yet, but below is a video of the technology, allegedly showing what it’s capable of. It’s causing a touch of stir in our offices as we discuss what we think is fact versus fiction (not to mention how stable/reliable we think the “simpler” elements will or won’t be). Personally, I think it’s a hybrid of the two. That is, I think some of the functionality showcased below won’t be seen in the market place for quite some time (e.g. the online shopping elements), while some of it, I can see hitting our living rooms in the not too distant future. I guess I’ll find out more tomorrow when I go to E3, but I’d love to hear your initial thoughts on this.
So, as you may have heard, the word on the street is that there is allegedly a bidding war over Oprah’s favorite micro-blogging website, Twitter. Google and Microsoft are being thrown around as two of the suitors.Now, Twitter’s founders, for their part, have stoked the flames by going on the record saying that they wouldn’t sell for $1 Billion dollars. You read that right.They would not sell it.
So, I gotta ask: what is going on around here?Seriously?Is it 1999 again?Aren’t we in a freaking global economic f*ckstorm?Why are people even entertaining the thought of paying this sort of money for “eyeballs” still?Why are they not worried about things like revenue and profitability?
Most of my favorite sites in the world right now are social media sites, but this is just ridiculous.Google is going to lose $470 million on YouTube, this year alone (according to Slate Magazine).They paid $1.65 billion for the site back in 2006.Recently, Facebook was valued at $15 billion dollars (after Microsoft dumped $150 million into them).Now though, it’s looking like Facebook is being valued at closer to $4 billion (which has them none to pleased).These numbers are all huge, and I don’t get where they are coming from.Where are the revenue streams that will one-day support these businesses?How are they going to make more than they spend?And (let’s make that leap of faith and assume that they will make money one day) once they are making money, how are they going to stay relevant, and profitable, long enough to make up all the money they’ve already lost building the business?Why are we doing exactly what we did in the ‘90s?What’s different?
I have to admit though; I’m shocked that Twitter won’t sell for $1 Billion.If I’m running Twitter, and someone offers me $100 million and a meatball sandwich, that site is sold.Enjoy. Here are the keys, I’ll be on some beach somewhere. But a billion?I’d be looking for Ashton Kutcher and the “Punk’d” cameras. $1 Billion. I’d probably be able to go and buy the Dallas Mavericks then…
Does anyone remember AOL?Friendster?WebVan?Pets.com?Excite@Home?MySpace (whose traffic is down over 11% this year)?This list could go on, I’m just getting warmed up… Just because you have eyeballs now, it doesn’t mean you will in one year, or two. Your “eyeballs” move in a herd… they follow the other people, not the technology or the application. They are not loyal to Facebook or Twitter.Call Chris DeWolfe (MySpace’s CEO) and ask him.If everyone on Facebook started leaving in droves for GiveJackABillionDollars.com tomorrow, they would be gone.For example, do any of you still check your Friendster accounts?They’re called “social” networks for a reason. It’s all about where the people are…
$1 Billion dollars and Twitter would say “no”.Wow.How can you not hear a Homer Simpson-esque “Yoink” as you grab that check and run out the door giggling?That kind of money shouldn’t be offered in the first place, but once it is… how do you leave it on the table? Anyone want www.freetwitterdesigner.com?Not huge traffic numbers, but it got .0036% of the traffic of Twitter in February.If my math is right, that values us at at least $3.6 million.We’d definitely sell it for that. You have my word.
What do you guys think?Am I just not seeing the “bigger picture” here?
We Are Organized Chaos (WAOC) is Zugara’s (www.zugara.com) interactive marketing and advertising blog where we’ll be featuring some great projects and discussing upcoming trends in the digital world. Work — good and bad — will be critiqued. Hope you’ll enjoy reading our insights and thoughts on interactive.