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Augmented Reality With Microsoft HoloLens And Project Tango

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augmented reality
If you’ve been reading Owner’s Magazine lately, you’ve probably read my
article about virtual reality. There I detailed information about the latest VR headsets to make a proper buying decision. However, I intentionally left out augmented reality. Augmented reality, or AR, is different from VR in which VR fully immerses the user inside of another world, AR (also known as mixed reality) superimposes virtual objects onto the real world. Holograms are an example of augmented reality. Popular AR games such as Pokémon Go are also examples of AR where your smartphone camera superimposes the virtual Pokémon on a live video feed making it seem as if the Pokémon were standing in the real world. The technology behind AR is nothing new. Even in today’s world of smartphones, many augmented reality apps were released on iPhone and Android devices back in 2008 and 2009. However, with the seemingly popularity of VR, more attention is also being given to AR solutions. Two of the biggest players in this space are Microsoft and Google.

Microsoft HoloLens

HololensOne of the more interesting AR devices comes from Microsoft. The HoloLens is a head mounted device that allows the user to view “holograms” through the lenses (hence the term “HoloLens”). The HoloLens features a bevy of sensors such as an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, four IR sensors for mapping the environment, a depth camera, ambient light sensors, 2.4-megapixel front camera, and microphone array. Along with an Intel CPU, Microsoft developed a custom chip called the “Holographic Processing Unit” or HPU. The HPU processes the sensor data as well as hand gestures and voice recognition. The HoloLens runs full Windows 10 and can run Universal Windows Programs. Regarding the hand gestures, there are two main gestures: bloom and tap. Bloom is simply balling your fist up palm facing up, and opening the fingers up like a flower (hence “bloom”). The bloom gesture activates the shell which allows you to access other programs. This is akin to pressing the Windows key on a PC or the Xbox button on the Xbox One. The second gesture is the tap. You aren’t literally tapping the air but it’s more like holding your index finger up then touching your thumb. This is used to select objects and windows. Windows can even be dragged around and pinned to walls or tables. Microsoft isn’t technically marketing this towards consumers yet. This is primarily for developers to create applications although anyone can buy the development kit for a wallet busting $3000.

Project Tango

project tangoProject Tango is the augmented reality platform developed by Google. While the Microsoft HoloLens is an actual headset, Tango goes a more practical route and utilizes a smartphone or tablet form factor for AR. The devices provide the hardware necessities such as various sensors and RGB-IR camera for depth sensing. The Tango software uses the hardware to enable motion tracking and visual recognition of the environment. The IR camera allows Tango to map the environment including distance, sizes, and depth. That information is then stored for future applications to use. This has many practical uses such as navigating through stores, mapping, and visualizing data. For example, you could use Tango to see exactly how a piece of furniture would look in your home before buying it. Google partnered with Lenovo to release the Phab 2 Pro, the first commercially available smartphone with Tango built in. At CES 2017, ASUS announced that it will also be releasing a Tango enabled phone along with Daydream VR.

Which Is The Future? VR vs AR?

There has been some debate over which platform is more viable for the future. Virtual reality completely immerses the user in a new world. These kinds of experiences are better suited to content consumption and entertainment. All three of the major VR platforms (HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR) all focus on games as their primary use case although some of them do allow you to watch movies in your own personal theater. At Facebook’s Oculus Connect event back in October, Mark Zuckerburg unveiled a vision for new ways to use VR for social interactions. He used the Oculus Rift to interact with virtual representations of himself and two other colleagues in a totally virtual space. Imagine being able to debate politics and religion with your friends in real time in a virtual world…actually…that may not go so well. However, being able to interact with another person in virtual reality would dramatically change and revolutionize how we connect with our friends and family. The primary drawback with VR is the total disconnect from the real world. VR often involves putting on a somewhat bulky headset and tuning out the world around you. The advantage of AR is that it allows you to interact with virtual objects while still being cognizant of the real world around you. AR also allows more practical, everyday uses. Imagine having a digital map displayed on your windshield on your car that helps you navigate and alerts you to any hazards or speed limits. Imagine virtually placing a couch in your actual living room before buying the couch. Construction workers and architects could use AR to precisely build structures while seeing a virtual representation of the building. Google’s Translate app can already translate text into another language in real time. So which one is the future? I think one of two things will happen. Either AR will eventually become dominant and heavily used in everyday life or there will be a mixture of AR and VR depending on the medium. VR will likely dominate the entertainment space with movies and gaming while AR is what most people will interact with daily. Project Tango will further accelerate the adoption of AR into Android phones. Apple is rumored to working with Carl Zeiss for their own augmented reality solution. History has shown us that once Apple implements a feature, the market generally follows suit. Regardless of what happens, the dream of the Star Trek HoloDeck is slowly coming to fruition.

Business

Interview With The Tangent Agency CEO, Marc Becker

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Tangent Agency
Going by the motto “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you,” The Tangent Agency has worked on many large projects, including Despicable Me, X-Men, Deadpool, Fifty Shades of Grey, and many more. Leading Tangent Agency is their CEO, Marc Becker. He comes with 7 years of experience as an Executive in the Global Brand Marketing team at Universal Pictures. Working closely with filmmakers, stakeholders, and brands, he helped develop campaigns for films across NBCU/Comcast platforms. Marc joined Tangent after using them as a trusted vendor while at Universal and now oversees business operations working for a creative powerhouse. The Tangent Agency brings big ideas to life by creating innovative content for their partners.
Marc granted us an interview to give us some insight on business and offered advice for those looking to advance their careers. He tells us about their new leadership team and how AR and VR is having a moment. 

What is your day like as a CEO?

When you’re running a company, you have to a wear a ton of hats. I always joke that I should change my business cards to read “Janitor to CEO” because that’s really what I have to be. On a typical day we’ll have a team check-in to talk about priorities followed by picking what music or movie we should put on in the background. My music is usually vetoed so our CSO, Daniel, has been on DJ duty for the last couple months. From there, I’m usually joining calls with partners ensuring we’re clear on all their objectives and deliverables. In addition to the account management side of things I’ll work with the team on brainstorms for ideation and reviewing material before it’s sent out to the partners. Another big part of my day is usually working on business development whether it’s chatting with partners/collaborators or potential clients who could use our services. I’m also a big proponent of mentorship and sharing my experiences whenever possible, so I NEVER turn down an informational interview - I tend to do them pretty often. It sounds very business school-y, but now that we’ve hired a couple more members of the team, I’m looking forward to working more ON the business instead of IN the business, which will enable us to scale a little faster.

What makes Tangent Agency different from other agencies?

At Universal, I used to hire nearly every agency under the sun. At Tangent, we are both a creative partner and thought partner, and all our strategy is insight-driven. We work with some of the biggest brands and on the biggest franchises, consistently delivering the quality and the marketing product you’d expect from a major creative agency, but also offer some unique capabilities like Strategic Sales Materials, Franchise Development, and Mythology. Our partners turn to our design team to develop a visual identity for their properties bringing their brands to life. Just as importantly, Tangent leads the way in deciphering data and creating a compelling story to pitch the property, often from scratch. Franchise development, while a critical storytelling and brand development device, is still a largely untapped part of entertainment marketing, and Tangent’s team is some of the best in this field. By breaking down the complex nuances of your favorite films and television shows, the process of mythology provides an avenue and a lens into the backstories of the characters and plot points to help our clients develop endlessly engaging story universes. The Tangent creative team has been both on the agency side and the client side and are truly some of the best in the business. I continue to be inspired by them on a daily basis.

What are some of the best projects you’ve worked on?

We’re proud of all our projects and they each present their own unique challenges and opportunities.  We like to say we’ve worked on everything from My Little Pony to Straight Outta Compton.  I find it exciting to work on independent films and Academy fare projects as well as the big global blockbuster franchises like the X-Men or Jurassic World.  Our resident super-geek and CSO, Daniel Barber, loves all things sci-fi and superheroes so I’m sure he’d say Deadpool 2, Logan, and Speilberg’s Ready Player One are a few he’d cite. On a personal level, it’s been special to be working on some of the Universal properties such as Despicable Me and Fast & Furious.  We’re under NDA so I can’t say exactly what we’re doing on the projects, but I spent so many years at Universal working internally with the brilliant filmmakers and collaborating with my old team and everyone around NBCU to help manage those brands, it’s fun to continue to work on them in this new capacity.

Who are some influencers that you admire?

I’ve always been a fan of the humble way of life Warren Buffet continues to maintain. Bill Gates has not only built an incredible empire and wealth, but continues to baffle me with his work through the foundation and his charitable contributions. Zuckerberg seems to be following in the footsteps of Gates, and I admire his commitment to making the world a better place. Sheryl Sandberg has become a voice of a generation of women and I appreciate the work she’s done to help break the glass ceiling. I know I’m leaving a bunch of people off, but I think you can gather the overall trend - successful people that seek to make a difference in the world.

What advice has helped you the most throughout your career?

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have mentors champion me throughout my career and sprinkle many insightful gems of advice throughout the years. One piece of advice that has always stuck with me is from my old boss, mentor and friend David O’Connor, who runs Brand Marketing at Universal. He always used to say “don’t be afraid to ask questions.” Too many people let their egos get in the way of being inquisitive for fear that they will be perceived as unintelligent or ignorant. It’s important to be strategic about asking questions and know when it’s appropriate and when questions should be taken off-line, but I’ve found it incredibly valuable to “be real” and honest with the people around me in both my personal and professional life. If I don’t know something, I ask and I remember, and then I have the knowledge going forward. If there’s something that isn’t my strength, for example graphic design, I can leave the work to the experts and allow people around me to shine.

What are some business tips you can give to startups?

Don’t be a jack of all trades and a master of none. Know what you’re good at and be the best at it. Or don’t be the best at it, just make sure you know what your value proposition is. In regards to people looking to launch a startup, I can’t tell you how many times entrepreneurs, friends, peers, etc. come to me with a business idea they “can’t tell me about.” Odds are, the idea isn’t an original idea and someone else has thought of it - it’s all about execution. You absolutely want to do your homework and discovery, but too many people suffer from analysis paralysis and never pull the trigger. The only way to make things happen is to actually execute. If something isn’t working, don’t let ego get in the way of being flexible, and don’t be afraid to make a pivot.Another tip is to always consider the end user. These fans are real people who are passionate about whatever brand/product you’re selling. In today’s world with social media being what it is, everyone can vocalize their opinion and has a pulpit by which to express it. Whether you’re marketing a multi-billion dollar blockbuster franchise or selling from a lemonade stand, it’s important to consider your customers.

What are some recent company milestones for The Tangent Agency?

We rebranded and restructured the company 18 months ago with a new leadership team: Ben Taylor (CCO), Daniel Barber (CSO), Mat Guillen (Art Director), and myself as CEO. We just completed our first year with the refreshed company and have seen incredible results and continued growth. Another recent milestone is we’ve expanded our Experiential, AV, and Digital capabilities.

What will make this year better than last year?

We’ve carved out a great niche for ourselves as one of the industry’s best kept secrets, working a lot behind the scenes. This year, we’re excited about becoming a bigger player in the experiential world and working on more consumer facing materials. It’s only January and we’re already having productive conversations with some of the leading content creators and key players in new technologies such as VR and AR. TV and Interactive Gaming are both having big moments, and we are excited about the opportunities for Tangent to collaborate in both areas. We’re looking forward to expanding our relationships with existing partners and working with new ones.   
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Best Podcasts For Designers

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In the past few years podcasts have increasingly become an outlet for entertainment, news, sports, politics, music, etc. It seems like everyone is hosting or co-hosting a podcast these days about any topic imaginable. Though most people do a podcast purely from the standpoint of conveying some sort of message, some have parlayed podcasting into a full career in media. A podcast is simply a long form conversation or interview which essentially informs or entertains the listener in some way. They’re uncensored so most prefer this format as opposed to radio, which seems to be a fading medium. If you consider yourself a creative thinker, a designer, or developer in some form here’s some of the best podcasts you should check out!
 

Adventures in Design

Adventures in Design is a daily podcast hosted by two graphic designers, Mark Brickey and Billy Baumann. “Adventures” is an entertaining, yet informative gossip show, which incorporates relatable “Shop Talk”. Brickey and Baumann focus on people who have successfully fused design and happiness into their professional lives. 

The Deeply Graphic Design Cast

If you're looking for a graphic design podcast targeted to freelancers or agency designers, The Deeply Graphic Design Cast by Wes McDowell may be one of the best podcasts for you. Wes is a graphic and web designer from Los Angeles who is characterized as both a serial freelancer and agency designer. He is joined by co-hosts Mikelle Morrison, Nick Longo, Brandon Voss, Kristi Duce, and Sam Cox. Their show is described as the web and graphic design podcast that offers both practical and creative design advice you can use. The creative hosts tackle relatable design topics and answer listener questions every episode! 

Unmistakable Creative

An iTunes Subscriber once described Unmistakable Creative by saying, “If TED Talks met Oprah, you’d have the Unmistakable Creative”. The show has fielded over 600 interviews with guests ranging from best selling authors & entrepreneurs to ex-cons. The show interestingly characterizes itself as a place for “wide eyed wanderers and starry eyes dreamers”. This is one of the best podcasts if you're searching for diversity of guests and topics. It allows for a wide range of listeners who consider themselves free spirited, rebellious, and passionate humans. 

Design Details

Simply put, Design Details is “a show about the people who design our favorite products”. Hosted by Bryn Jackson and Brian Lovin each hour long episode while lacking structure provides a casual conversation atmosphere. Their guests have featured a wide variety of different designers who specialize in UX, visual design, product design, game design, etc. 

Developer Tea

Developer Tea is a unique podcast because of the length of each episode. This is a podcast that you can literally listen to in about ten minutes. On your lunch break, on your commute in traffic, or while washing dishes you can be informed about development and manage time simultaneously. The show is hosted by Jonathan Cutrell, a developer who and director of Technology at a company called “Whiteboard”, in Chattanooga, TN. Jonathan says that he wants to help designers “level up” and achieve their goals. 

Let’s Make Mistakes

If you scour the reviews online, you will see conflicting opinions from the listeners of “Let’s Make Mistakes”. Another podcast that frequently lacks structure and often goes off on tangents, the hosts still discuss design in an effective manner. Though there may have been a few changes in the co-hosts Mike Monteiro is a main stay and fan favorite. An opinionated voice on the show provides a great balance to his two counterparts in whatever creative topic they decide to discuss in each episode.  

Design Matters with Debbie Millman

In 2005, Debbie Millman created a radio show called “Design Matters”. Though it started as a small idea surrounded by a great vision, the show has progressed to be a staple in one of the best podcasts for community. Millman saw the show as a great way to interview some of the designers that she admires most and ask them everything that she ever wanted to know. Millman is not just a podcaster she also made history by being the first design podcast to distribute episodes free on iTunes. 200 episodes later, the show has gained awards, recognition, and critical acclaim and has grown exponentially since 2005. 

Design Guy

If you’re looking for structured, condensed design principles explained to you, Design Guy podcast is the place to look. Even though the show is focused primarily on graphic design, the listener can still gain useful general design information from these “timeless principles”.  

Boagworld

This particular web design podcast, Boagworld, is hosted by British UX designer Paul Boag, along with Marcus Lillington. If you are looking for an informative show that tackles all things web design, this may be one of the best podcasts for you. They have been joined by a diverse cast of guests over the show history, and always provide a unique take on the design field. If you’re looking to shake things up a bit, while gaining valuable information this is the podcast to check out. 

The Creative Agency Podcast

For entrepreneurs/designers who are interested in owning or working in the creative/digital agency space you may have some questions that cannot be answered from a mere Google search. “Creative Agency” focuses on growing and managing a creative agency. Chris Bolton hosts and interviews a myriad of entrepreneurs on the best practices to staying afloat in the agency space. Check it Out!
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The Dirt on Filthy Casual

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Darshelle Stevens Filthy Casual
Darshelle Stevens wearing Filthy Casual
These are the guys that created a community behind a brand.
Jason Soprovich and Mike Gaboury are the creators of Filthy Apparel, a premium lifestyle brand based in Canada focused on the gaming industry. The beauty behind the Filthy Casual brand is the positive influence that it has on the people wearing the clothes. What makes their apparel different is that it is for gamers of every level, whether you are a professional or play casually every so often. This is about growing as an extended family, with people you meet virtually, at conventions, or through social media.
Filthy Casual

Photo by Darshelle Stevens

Jason and Mike began their adventure 7 years ago as nothing more than just a hobby. They were never the cool kids, but not quite the nerds either. Their similar interest in World of Warcraft brought them together as friends and decided to form a company together. Unsure of which industry to reach, they pursued music. They quickly learned that it was not something they had passion for, and discarded the idea soon after. Clothing sounded reasonable, they thought, and that was where they poured their creativity to this day.What started as 50 shirts for friends became something much more, for a community with a large demographic. According to The ESA, in 2015, 155 million Americans play video games with an average of two gamers in every gaming household. With a large audience in the United States alone, Filthy Casual is quickly becoming the ultimate lifestyle brand for gamers. Their online store features a wide range of products, from graphic t-shirts and snapbacks to artwork in the form posters and prints. Their apparel is focused on comfort, made with premium fabrics and materials. Growing quickly, their product line will be expanding within a few months time.The culture that Jason and Mike built for Filthy Casual is unique in the fact that they have remained humble throughout their success. Their appreciation for everyone involved thus far, from their photographer Darshelle Stevens to all the family and friends they have met along the way, is expressed through their language and stories shared. Filthy Casual Spotlights feature individuals that are equally as passionate about the gaming community as they are. Social media has been an outlet for Filthy Casual to reach and engage with fans. Their Twitter is flooded with people around the world wearing their apparel, while their Instagram gives you a behind the scenes look into the people behind the brand.
Filthy Casual

Photo by Darshelle Stevens

Keeping up with the gaming market is one of their priorities that has contributed to their success. Jason and Mike are constantly watching gaming trends and many times, designing on the fly based on what is forecasted. The Filthy Casual team has traveled around the world, with Vancouver, Austin, and San Diego being some of their favorites. Their growth is no secret, with companies actively reaching out to them. They have collaborated with some of the most respected people in the industry like Rooster Teeth, where Filthy Casual designed a shirt based on their aesthetic. Others include Kinda Funny Games, Deep Silver, and are currently in talks on secret projects in the gaming industry.Filthy Casual is a brand filled with passion and their mission is to spread the positivity that they have seen in the community. They are the family that you wish you had growing up, and are pioneering the way for people to come together based on similar interests, just as Jason and Mike has. They made a clothing brand that they believe in and wear themselves. The best advice they can give is, “Be willing to be dynamic, find where you fit in, and don’t give up.” Filthy Casual is as respectable as the team behind it. What was once days filled with World of Warcraft is now an apparel company sought out by fans around the world. Because their foundation is built on connecting with people and building relationships, they do not offer sponsorships of any kind. Everyone that wears their clothing is a true fan, and they pride themselves on being authentic without having to spend any marketing dollars.
Filthy Casual

Photo by Darshelle Stevens

As Filthy Casual continues to grow, they hope to see their apparel on the average gamer. They have turned down opportunities for entering retail stores, but are considering opening a flagship store of their own within 5 years time. Jason and Mike want to give their customers a personal experience that only they are able to give. Fans from around the world are purchasing their product in their online store and at conventions. Some are collecting the apparel, such as one of their customers in the UK, who has 46 of their pieces. What they want their fans to know is that Filthy Casual is all inclusive and to not be afraid to say hello. Think of them as an extended family, the guys that have your back when there is no where to turn. That is the Filthy Casual lifestyle.
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