Regal Theaters Employ Augmented Reality in Prize Giveaway

The Regal theater chain, beginning April 15, has launched a weeklong, nationwide “Easter egg hunt” bringing movie posters to life via augmented reality.

Movie fans can use the Regal mobile app’s augmented reality filter to scan in-theater posters and unlock rewards, redeemable through April 30 at all participating Regal theaters.

“The race is on for our moviegoers with this one-of-a-kind promotion, which features incredible prizes hidden in posters of the year’s most anticipated movies,” said Chris Sylvia, VP of media at Regal, in a statement. “With the rise of augmented reality, we strive to stay on the forefront of cutting-edge technology to give our guests unbeatable entertainment experiences, as well as reward Regal’s loyal moviegoers.”

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To discover the hidden rewards, consumers open the Regal mobile app and click on the camera icon in the top-right corner of the home screen to unveil an augmented reality platform that, when aimed at the correct poster, will reveal the hidden egg and its associated prize.

Prizes include free popcorn, bonus Regal Crown Club credits and 25 percent off an entire credit order in the Regal Reward Center. Supplies are limited.

SyFy, NBC Universal Bowing ‘Eleven Eleven’ VR Project at SXSW Festival

SyFy channel along with NBC Universal March 5 announced they will bow the “Eleven Eleven” virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) series later this month at the SXSW film festival in Austin, Texas.

Produced in collaboration with VFX studio Digital Domain, “Eleven Eleven” will be available for both tethered and mobile VR headsets and related AR devices.

“With Eleven Eleven, we are pioneering an innovative scripted format for science fiction content that blends the best of theatre, gaming and cinema to create unique VR and AR experiences,” Steve Patscheck, EVP global programming at NBC Universal International Networks, said in a statement. “By creating an original piece of IP, Syfy was able to design specifically for VR and AR, all the while exploring how immersive technologies could heighten the thrill of storytelling.”

Sky will distribute the series through European regions (Germany, Italy, Spain) via Sky VR Studios.

“We’re delighted to be partnering with Syfy and NBC Universal International Networks on Eleven Eleven,” said Neil Graham, executive producer for Sky VR Studios. “It is a truly innovative VR experience and a brilliant step forward in our growing range of VR content.”

 

Digital Change the Focus of DEW Conference

Speakers discussed changes in digital entertainment content, stars, business models and more during the Digital Entertainment World conference Feb. 4 in Marina del Rey, Calif.

Digital Media Wire founder Ned Sherman noted that in the past year the industry produced nearly 500 original scripted programs, the majority of which for the first time came from streaming services.

“There’s almost sort of an arm’s race going on in this space,” he said, noting the billions being spent on programming by Netflix and other streaming services.

Speakers discussed the advantages and disadvantages of subscription streaming models (SVOD), ad-supported free streaming models (AVOD) and graduated spending models, such as Hulu’s, which has both ad-supported and ad-free services.

(L-R) Forbes’ Dawn Chmielewski, Pluto TV’s Tom Ryan, Tasty’s Ashley McCollum and Vertical Networks’ Jesus Chavez.

Tom Ryan, co-founder and CEO of Pluto TV, extolled the virtues of free AVOD and his company’s pending acquisition by Viacom, announced last month.

“They have world class brands, well-known programming. They’ve got advanced advertising capabilities, and they are a global company,” he said, noting Viacom will help Pluto TV expand internationally.

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The acquisition will “accelerate what we’ve already built,” he said. Pluto TV is “the leading free streaming television service in America,” with 12 million monthly users and 100 channels, he said.

Free AVOD fills an important need as “there has been a certain amount of subscription fatigue,” he said.

“The problem comes down to payment,” he said. “There’s only so many services that people will pay for.”

He mentioned a survey by Ampere that found the average SVOD home subscribes to 2.8 streaming services.

“You have Netflix and Amazon Prime, and everybody else fighting for that 0.8,” he said.

He said that, rather than creating channels that match those on traditional cable,

“we will create new channels that include content from Viacom.”

“I think AVOD content has been a big theme to start out this year,” said Ellation’s Eric Berman in “The Future of the Television Business” panel.

“There’s a big conundrum in the AVOD model,” said Popsugar Studios’ David Grant on the same panel. “Somehow the content has to be created.”

Viacom is buying Pluto TV, but the AVOD service is “not funding that content,” he noted.

“When is the AVOD system going to be able to fund the creation of television-sized content?” he asked.

The very nature of content is undergoing a transformation, speakers noted. Digital content isn’t constrained by the need to fill a half-hour sitcom slot or hour-long drama. It also can explore niche subjects.

As opposed to globalization, “for me the greatest power of digital is actually localization,” noted keynote speaker Gerrit Meier of the Red Bull Media Network, which creates programming around sports such as surfing and mountain biking, among other subjects. Through the internet, local communities around the world can find a voice, exposing sports “that I have never heard of before,” he said.

“Those are all stories that should be told,” he said.

Content, too, can morph to suit a mobile audience, noted Jesus Chavez, CEO of Vertical Networks.

In designing mobile content, “I’m competing with everything that’s on a person’s phone,” he said. It must be engrossing in the mobile space, he noted.

Digital stars, too, have a new style. They exude authenticity and communicate more closely with their audiences.

“We are always looking to populate our projects with people who have relevance in the social media space,” said Shelley Zimmerman, co-head of digital media company Awesomeness (owned by Viacom).

Studio71’s Dan Weinstein noted that the new digital stars are more relatable, as opposed to the “untouchable” movie stars.

Speakers also discussed augmented and virtual reality.

Hilary Hoffman, EVP, global marketing, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, detailed a Jurassic World campaign that used augmented reality to allow Facebook users to view dinosaurs that jumped out at them at retail and at home. She said the campaign was much more successful than anticipated, but that monetizing AR will require more ease of use.

“Right now, it’s more promotional,” she said, but it “has so much great potential.”

AT&T’s John Donovan to Deliver Keynote on 5G Opportunities at CES

AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan will lead a keynote session titled “New Frontiers in Mobile” at CES 2019, the Consumer Technology Association announced.

Donovan will join MediaLink Chairman and CEO Michael Kassan to discuss opportunities for 5G, the next generation technology for mobile.

Owned and produced by CTA, CES 2019 takes place Jan. 8-11 in Las Vegas. The keynote will begin at 2 p.m. Jan. 9 at the Park Theater, MGM Park.

Presented by MediaLink, the keynote will explore how 5G will open up opportunities for robotic manufacturing, AR/VR and mixed reality, sporting experiences and public safety, among other industries. After Donovan’s talk, a panel of industry executives will discuss how global companies are developing marketing strategies to best engage consumers in this mobile, data-driven world. Confirmed keynote panelists include National Geographic CMO Jill Cress, Deloitte Digital CMO Alicia Hatch, Magic Leap CPO Omar Khan, Adobe CMO Ann Lewnes, The Stagwell Group president and managing partner Mark Penn, and Ascential Events president and Cannes Lions chairman Phil Thomas.

“AT&T is a leader in the next-generation of connected mobility that will impact every aspect of our lives, and 5G is the platform that will enable that transformation,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA, in a statement. “We are excited to have John Donovan and Michael Kassan lead this powerful CES keynote that will delve into the new world of 5G innovation and the next wave of connectivity.”

Donovan is responsible for the bulk of AT&T’s global telecommunications and U.S. video services businesses, including its Business, Mobility and Entertainment, and Technology & Operations groups, according to a CTA press release. Previously, Donovan served as chief strategy officer and group president, AT&T Technology and Operations, where he led strategic planning for the company overall.

Kassan founded MediaLink in 2003, a strategic advisory firm serving companies at the intersection of media, marketing, advertising, technology, entertainment and finance.

Sony Alums Join Data Analytics Company’s New International Division

Data analytics company Algomus/Algo.ai has created an international division based in London.

The company has named Aodan Coburn, formerly EVP International at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, as president, Algo.ai International. Miguel Geli, previously division CIO for Sony Pictures and European MD of Sony Retail Services Europe, has been appointed COO, Algo.ai International.

Algo.ai comprises a team of software engineers, mathematicians, business analysts, machine learning experts and data scientists with extensive industry knowledge of manufacturing, distribution and retail supply chains to support the use of data to drive savings.

“This significant development reflects our desire to service our current customers on a broader territory basis and supports our ambition to expand both our geographical and industry reach,” CEO Amjad Hussain said in a statement.

“International expansion has been a strategic goal for some time, and with these two key appointments we are now well-positioned to repeat the tremendous growth opportunities we have seen domestically,” said John Daly, president of Algo.ai, in a statement.

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to play a part in the Algomus story as this innovative company continues on its journey of global growth,” Coburn said in a statement.

“Algo.ai is a company with significant global potential which I am thrilled now to be part of,” Geli added in a statement.

Algomus is headquartered in Detroit, with additional offices in Los Angeles and now London.

Algo.ai created Algo, the world’s first supply chain analyst bot. Algo connects artificial intelligence, augmented reality and automation to retailers, distributors and manufacturers. The tool helps with activities including demand and inventory planning, sales forecasting, new product lifecycle management, and assortment optimization.

Report: U.S. Fiscal Investment in A.R./V.R. Waning

Financial investment in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology in the United States is on the decline – and on the rise in China, according to new data from fiscal advisor Digi-Capital.

North American investment in VR/AR fell about 92% to $120 million in the third quarter 2018 from $1.5 billion in Q4 2017. The majority previously invested in smart glasses, video games, location-based entertainment, video, advertising and marketing.

Indeed, global shipments of AR and VR headsets dropped more than 30% this year, according to International Data Corp. A separate report found significant declines in sales of VR headsets on Amazon from Sony, Samsung, Facebook and HTC.

Digi-Capital said global VR/AR investment has declined about 10% per quarter after plateauing at $2 billion in Q4 2017. In China, VR/AR investment has approached $3.9 billion.

Goldman Sachs projects Asia – spearheaded by China – will be become the world’s largest VR market by 2021 with 45% market share.

“American and Chinese investment had an inverse relationship in the last 12 months,” Tim Merel, managing director at Digi-Capital, said in a statement.“American investors increasingly chose to stay on the sidelines, while Chinese investor confidence grew to back up clear vision with long-term investments. The differences in the data couldn’t be starker.”

 

Virtual Reality (VR) Headset Shipments Plummet

Virtual reality headsets – video game technology briefly championed as a home entertainment savior – appear to have lost their mojo among consumers.

Global shipments of VR headsets dropped 33.7% in the second quarter of 2018, according to new data from the International Data Corporation (IDCWorldwide Quarterly Augmented and Virtual Reality Headset Tracker.

Tethered VR headsets declined 37.3% as major brands such as Oculus and Sony were unable to maintain consumer demand following price reductions in the previous-year period, according to IDC.

The report said the two brands managed to ship 102,000 and 93,000 headsets respectively in the period. The category leader, HTC, shipped close to 111,000 headsets (excluding the standalone Vive Focus) thanks to the growing popularity of the Viveport subscription service as well as the launch of the Pro headset.

Screenless viewers, which enjoyed initial popularity when Samsung, Alcatel, and Google bundled the headsets with smartphones, has seen consumer interest dwindle. The category has shrunk from 1 million headsets in Q2 2017 to 409,000 units this year. This category was the largest contributor to the decline in shipments for the overall VR headset market.

“One of the major issues with the VR market is that consumers still find it difficult to try a VR headset,” Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC, said in a statement.

IDC expects this to be a temporary setback as the VR market finds its legs. The arrival of new products, such as the Oculus Go and HTC Vive Pro, and new brands, combined with the need for greater headset fidelity all point to a positive outlook for the quarters ahead.

“This is where the commercial market has an opportunity to shine,” said Ubrani. “HTC’s recent partnership with Dave & Busters or Oculus’ work with schools around the world stand to play an important role in educating and enticing consumers to use VR.”

Indeed, standalone VR headset shipments grew 417.7% in the quarter, largely due to the global availability of the Oculus Go/Xiaomi Mi VR, which managed to ship 212,000 headsets.

While the consumer side of the VR headset market remains the focus of attention, the commercial side is gaining traction. In Q2, roughly 20% of VR headsets were destined for the commercial sector, up from 14% last year. Along with the increase in share, average selling prices have also increased from $333 to $442 during the same period.

“In a market where mainstream VR content is still lacking, a growing number of vendors are looking to commercial as a way to build their business while they wait for the consumers to catch up,” said Tom Mainelli, VP, devices and augmented and virtual reality at IDC. “These vendors are moving beyond entertainment-focused deployments to real-world training scenarios in companies of all sizes, all over the world. IDC expects commercial buyers to represent an increasingly important percentage of the market going forward.”

Universal Unleashes AR Experience With Facebook to Promote ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’

To mark the global 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has partnered with Facebook and Messenger to unleash sharable in-store and in-home augmented reality experiences showcasing the film’s dinosaurs.

The AR experiences featuring different dinosaurs from the film will debut Sept. 18 timed to the film’s North American home entertainment launch before rolling out around the world.

It is the first integrated AR experience across the Facebook family of apps — specifically Facebook and Messenger — according to a Universal press release.

“Just as Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom expertly transports viewers into an immersive world of discovery and wonder, the new AR offerings in-store and in-home serve to effectively extend that excitement and innovation to our global home entertainment release,” said Hilary Hoffman, EVP, marketing, UPHE. “We are thrilled to have a world-class partner in Facebook to help power these engaging AR experiences and are sure they will captivate and delight Jurassic fans of all ages.”

On the day of the release, participating retailers across 18 countries will showcase, for a limited time, the Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in-store displays that will include instructions on how to trigger an AR experience. Shoppers scan a special QR code to launch the sharable AR effect that places the Indoraptor directly in their path. In the U.S. alone, the experience spans more than 17,000 stores across multiple national retail and grocery chains, according to the release.

The in-home experience is activated off of an insert in the product packaging using the Messenger camera. The experience unveils an interactive, baby version of the film’s Velociraptor hero, Blue. The animated Baby Blue can be placed in any environment, and images and video of her can be captured and shared with friends.

Both the in-store and in-home experiences are compatible with iOS and Android devices. Users should utilize the latest version of the Facebook and Messenger apps, according to the release.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the second installment in the dinosaur series reboot, has generated nearly $1.3 billion at the worldwide box office to date. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Colin Trevorrow, the film stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard.

New Facebook AR Mask Lets Fans Experience ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

Potential spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War ahead.

A new augmented reality enhancement for the Facebook mobile app is giving fans a chance to experience a key moment in Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War.

The Avengers: Infinity War custom Facebook AR mask is timed to celebrate the film’s release on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Aug. 14. The movie is available now through digital retailers.

In the film, the Avengers must come together to stop an intergalactic warlord named Thanos from gaining the six Infinity stones, which when combined will allow him to achieve his goal of eliminating half the population of the universe with the snap of his fingers, a move he believes will alleviate the burdens of limited resources.

The AR mask’s camera effect allows fans to see themselves turn to dust as if they were a victim of Thanos’ snap.

To use the mask, fans simply log into their Facebook app with a mobile device and go to http://www.facebook.com/fbcameraeffects/tryit/258281704903067/ to load the AR effect. With the camera in selfie mode, users can implement the effect by opening their mouths. The video can be saved and posted to Facebook with the caption THANOS IS HERE! @Avengers #InfinityWar.

The effect is designed to work on iPhone devices 5s or newer and Android devices from 2012 onwards. The effect does not work on desktop computers.

Report: Augmented Reality Retail Adoption to Be Driven by Online Shoppers

Augmented Reality will see major adoption in the retail sector, driven more by use by online shoppers and the retail workforce, rather than use by customers in the brick and mortar environment, according to ABI Research.

AR experiences can prove extremely useful for online customers unable to interact with the physical products they intend to purchase, according to ABI’s Augmented Reality in Retail report.

ABI forecasts that, by 2020, 3% of e-commerce revenue will be generated because of augmented reality experiences. That equates to $122 billion in revenue worldwide.

“The relative ease of integrating AR into existing m-commerce platforms and the impact this can have on the user experience will largely drive customer demand,” said Nick Finill, senior analyst at ABI Research, in a statement.

The benefits of using AR will not overcome the barriers which exist in physical retail, however, which is inherently less reliant on the use of a mobile device.

“For consumers in brick and mortar stores, however, AR can disrupt the customer journey and provides little additional value overall,” Finill said in a statement.

For the in-store employee, AR promises to deliver operational efficiencies and raise the quality of the service delivered, according to ABI.

Smart glasses from manufacturers such as Vuzix are already starting to be used by retail employees to assist with front- and back-of-store operations, according to ABI. ABI forecasts that by 2022 more than 120,000 stores will be using AR smart glasses globally, with deployments evenly split across Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific. This will be driven by the need for efficiency savings to compete with rival retailers and the online sector generally.