Build Newsletter: New Frontiers For Mobile—VR, AR, Wearables and More

March 3, 2016 Gregory Chase

sfeatured-buildLast week’s BUILD Newsletter focused on the hottest topic at Mobile World Congress last month—the connected car. It is definitely one of the focal points for the industry with even more news coming from the Geneva Motor Show this week alongside a stream of expert perspectives like those in CNET and IoT Business News. But it is not all we have to talk about in this space.

As further proof the whole mobile space is truly spreading its tentacles in all directions, we thought it would be interesting this week to talk about the the other “new” development platforms.

Beyond PCs, tablets, mobile phones, and cars, application development is moving into high gear for new platforms around virtual reality, augmented reality, wearables, nearables, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Companies are investing in these platforms to bring more of the Silicon Valley mindset into their operations.

First, virtual reality (VR) is riding in on a new wave. MWC sported many innovators in this area—some who might even surprise you a bit. Starting off, Samsung allowed everyone attending their MWC press conference to wear its new Gear VR headset. Of course, Mark Zuckerberg has been pushing this VR platform too, like in the deep dive from this recent interview—it gives a pretty insightful sense of this emerging developer platform. In addition, Google added a new virtual reality category to its store after creating a new division for VR last month. Lastly, McDonald’s is even in on the action, building VR technology into Happy Meal boxes starting THIS WEEK! For $4.10, about 3,500 people will get the chance to see this first hand at participating stores.

For those looking to start working with VR, if you haven’t seen the sample native apps over at developer.oculus.com, it’s worth a look. Then head over to their app store to see what is live.

On the augmented reality (AR) front, Microsoft just made the HoloLens Development Edition available—here is a link to the documentation and training as well as a pretty cool example video of what it looks like inside an app. As an example of what is possible, PoliceOne just outlined all the law enforcement use cases and benefits that new AR glasses will support. And, Epson stepped into the limelight for AR recently with their MOVERIO product. Head over to their developer site or checkout their app store to find consumer apps for head tracking, entertainment, remote PC access, and e-commerce.

Looking at Epson’s industrial AR product, use cases apply to just about every type of industrial building and piece of machinery around. For example, we could use Telit, who recently won Best Industrial IoT Solution, to pipe maintenance data off of a machine—push it into Apache Geode or Apache HAWQ (SQL on Hadoop), run a Python or Java-based predictive model app on the data via Cloud Foundry, then have the relevant, actionable insights sent back to someone wearing AR glasses and looking at the machine.

Some experts believe augmented reality use cases for the industrial market are still widely unaddressed. Perhaps,this is why PTC is getting so excited about AR and IoT together and is why they bought Vuforia. For more info, check out the Vuforia dev kits here.

Or, see how GE is doing similar things with IoT at massive scale.

On the wearables front, one new report shows that, last year, 37 million wearable “bands” like Fitbit shipped—18 million smartwatches shipped, with a notable 12 million of those watches created by Apple. By the way, Samsung, Pebble, Huawei, Fitbit, Xiaomi, and Garmin are all getting at least some market traction. Another analyst forecast says wearables will reach 172 million units in three years. Some of the new crowdfunded development kits here are quite powerful, and we are seeing a lot of innovative ways besides counting your steps and sleep cycles being added to them. For instance, Visa is clearly making headway to enable credit card transactions from your wearable.

If the shiny, new VR, AR, and wearable app platforms aren’t enough, then we might as well address nearables too. One of the world’s leading product design firms, IDEO, is pretty excited about nearablesthe beacons that will allow communicate with your phone based on proximity. There are SDKs for many nearables as well—smart signage, cloud-based solutions for museums, and even re-brandable, open source, 3D printed ones to attach to any object. By the way, we just worked with IDEO to help improve their software development processes. We have a feeling they are going to do a lot of cool things in this area.

And finally a bit of a plug. Virtual and augmented reality are going to test the responsiveness of not just our application platforms, but our data platforms as well. In-memory computing is going to be extremely important for providing fast, context-sensitive experiences for our users. We will need to be processing streaming data for large numbers of users, and to provide rapid scoring for predictive, machine-learning driven responses. To learn more, there is a great opportunity next week at the first Geode Summit. It starts March 9 in Palo Alto and will get in deep with the technology of the in-memory data grid known as GemFire and Apache Geode.

That’s the rundown—see you next week!

About the Author

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