About 11 years ago I was standing outside in the snow in Munich, Germany with the CTO of a small company, Metaio. He was showing me monsters on the sides of buildings. Apple later bought his company. It got me interested in augmented reality and its uses to make people’s lives more fun and more interesting. The way that first demo happened? The building was turned into an invisible digital twin that the virtual monsters could attach themselves to and move around the building.
Snapchat has, in the past few years, finally brought that tech to consumers with its augmented reality lenses. Things that can turn your world into complete augmented reality scenes, way better than what Metaio showed me 11 years ago.
While SnapChat’s invisible digital twin lets developers do very cool things, it leaves me wanting. Why? So far the Snap platform doesn’t give us many computer vision capabilities. Doesn’t really let us do a whole range of things we want our augmented reality worlds to do (like keep track of your keys).
Today Perceptus, from Singulos Research, gives us an important answer to the future of what humans might do with augmented reality, beyond Snap’s filters, which are really designed to make your selfies much more interesting and it does it with a new kind of computer vision that can catalog physical items in your home or factory.
Augmented Reality has so much more potential into changing EVERYTHING in our homes and factories and Perceptus shows us just how we can use digital twins, computer vision, and AI to make our world better than it was before augmented reality arrives.
CEO Brad Quinton buried the lede when we talked yesterday. Journalism term for hiding an important fact until late in the conversation. About an hour in he let drop “you can play virtual chess without even a chess board.” Then he said you don’t need all the physical pieces, either! The invisible digital twin strikes again.
First, why do I have the credibility to make such a statement? 1. I created the first augmented reality app on Apple’s store on this blog. 2. I wrote major parts of four books about technology. Qualcomm’s head of its augmented reality efforts (Qualcomm makes the inside of Meta’s VR headset), Hugo Swart, tells people my latest “The Infinite Retina” is a must read. 3. Siri was launched in my son’s bedroom. That was the first AI app. 4. I had the first video of a Google self-driving car on YouTube.
I also am not paid for, nor am connected with this company. Although I would work for it for free if asked. Why? This platform has a major impact on the future of things developers will be able to do in our homes.
This does NOT require a headset or glasses. If you watch the video you will see founder Brad Quinton demoing it on a simple iPad. But, of course, this really will rock when we get wearable devices that will enable us to use this kind of augmented reality without holding a device in our hands.
“So, Scoble, what is it?”
It lets you do magic. Just watch the demo in the video I posted or watch the more professional video on Perceptus’ website. It shows the power of digital twins and computer vision in our homes.
Soon devices will augment everything with this kind of computer vision and an invisible digital twin. That’s how Snap’s filters work, they add a digital twin of your face and of the city around you into its database which developers can then manipulate.
Digital twins are like a 3D copy of the real world.
In the demo Quinton shows, the table is a digital twin. It looks like the real table, doesn’t it? But it isn’t. In this case the digital twin is mostly invisible. Perceptus uses this digital twin to keep track of things like chess pieces and Lego pieces on the table top (and a few other things too, but I’m trying to keep it simple here). Think of it as a new kind of database: one that is laid out on top of the real world.
The magic here is that Perceptus quickly makes this digital twin and figures out what is on top of it. Computer vision running inside says “hey, there’s a rook in a chess game” and it keeps track of that rook from then on and, from then on, developers can perform their own magic (for instance a developer might want to change that rook into something crazy, like a Sponge Bob character).
Don’t focus too much on the two examples Brad demos. The game and Lego organizer aren’t the secret sauce here. They are just examples of things that COULD be built on top of this platform. As I walk around the home I see dozens of things developers could do with Perceptus, from making new musical instruments on top of Coke cans to making all our board games far more interactive and interesting. It could be used for non entertainment purposes too, like suggesting recipes, or keeping track of things around your home. All my lights have computers in them and they are hard to control. A developer could use this platform to make that much easier. Or could make our Heinz ketchup bottle play games against the salt shaker next to it.
Some details behind the company?
So far it’s self funded. He says he isn’t raising funds right now but I’ve learned many times that entrepreneurs are always raising funds even when they say they aren’t. The valuation just hasn’t gotten interesting enough yet! (My words, not his).
This isn’t his first company, he cofounded Veridae Systems, Invionics, and Abreezio (acquired by Qualcomm) and has 28 patents to his name.
You can learn more at https://www.perceptusai.com/
More in depth about my thinking
If you have read this far you are really crazy about augmented reality. My kind of people! So, why am I so strongly excited by this company?
Well, we all know Apple is coming with some sort of head mounted display (technical term for something like a headphone that has screens for you to look at). There have been tons of rumors, lots of ideas of what is coming.
I’m not playing that game anymore, except that whatever comes will be the most expensive product launch of all time in any industry. So expectations are extremely high and whatever Apple will do will change the opportunities for developers.
This is a big example of just what kinds of startups are about to come. I’m expecting that over the next 24 months we’ll see hundreds of startups, like this one, created. That has me excited, but even better, I’ve been doing investor research lately and a huge percentage of them are waiting to see what Apple is doing before even considering whether to invest in virtual or augmented reality. I need more time to finish off that research to present real numbers, but it’s already clear after asking 100 investors.
Major companies are already talking to me about augmenting their products in our homes. Tonight I was talking to an employee at Samsung about its appliances and how they would augment them. Then there are consumer products companies like Procter and Gamble. If someone there wants to augment a Tide bottle it’ll need a computer vision platform. Does this work for every use case? The market will decide but it shows me that magic can be brought by developers to EVERY object in our homes. Forks? Yes. Refrigerators? Yes. Board games? Yes. Spices? Yes.
I’m tracking companies that will have a unicorn potential in this augmented reality world. This certainly is one.
Anyway, the next 16 months will be huge for augmented reality and this is just another example why and it demonstrates that machine learning/computer vision and digital twins are about to become much more useful to consumers.