CrowdOptic Powers Lancome Virtual Gallery App, Crowd-powered Heat Map


You can tell it is now nearly summer in the northern hemisphere, festival season is now underway, and there are few better ones than the annual Luminato Festival in Toronto, Canada. Stretching over 10 days, the festival literally covers all aspects of the arts ranging from traditional disciplines to tech-centric ones. It is thus not surprising that the seventh annual gathering, starting June 14, is the place chosen for a very interesting endeavor by CrowdOptic, a maker of crowd-powered mobile applications regarding the use of a new mobile app, and its employment in the world’s first crowd-powered heat map logo. To borrow an almost cliché phrase, this is “very cool!”

Be there to be illuminated

Here is what’s happening. CrowdOptic will be providing the technology that will power key features of the virtual art gallery smartphone app being launched by its partners, the Location Based Marketing Association (LBMA) and Lancome Canada, a division of L'Oreal Canada.

Lancome will present a special project entitled “20 Bloggers for a Rose: The Lancome Virtual Gallery,” with the installation being presented from June 14 to 20 at David Pecaut Square.  It presents a modern twist on the curation of photographic work done by some of Canada's top beauty, fashion and lifestyle bloggers in a virtual gallery installation.  The bloggers were asked to share in pictures their take on Lancome’s iconic emblem, the rose, which has been the company’s logo since 1935.   

At the virtual gallery, which can only be seen with a smartphone during the festival, attendees will be invited to download the smartphone app (available for iPhone or Android) created exclusively for the project. Once downloaded, people will be able to view the gallery virtually mounted in David Pecaut Square on their phone via an augmented reality technology.

But wait, there’s more. As the creators state, “In addition to the Virtual Gallery, the 20 photos have been purposely distributed in a predefined fashion so that when seen from an aerial view, it creates a map in the shape of a rose, the Lancome logo. While the festival viewers will be interacting with and sharing the gallery images, the aggregate effect of their engagement over the length of the festival will create the Worlds' First Human Heatmap Logo.”

"This will be the first time a crowd will actually contribute to augmented reality, the result their activity culminating in a completely new virtual experience. It's a unique opportunity for festival goers to contribute to the worlds' first art experience," said Asif Khan, founder and president of The LBMA.

''This project with the Luminato Festival stems from Lancome's natural passion for the arts," said Stuart Leitch, general manager for Lancome in Canada. ''We see the virtual gallery as an opportunity to combine art, with social media and innovative technology, creating truly unique experience for festival goers.''

Lancome Canada and LBMA selected CrowdOptic because its technology is the only one in the marketplace that can support such group/collaborative experiences using augmented reality technology.

LBMA's Khan sees Lancome Canada as an early adopter and pioneer of the direction in which many of LBMA's partners will eventually be heading. Having witnessed a similar transformation of the Web in its infancy into Web 2.0, Khan expects similar needs and end user expectations will apply in the Augmented Reality space, where apps will evolve away from static displays toward dynamic displays, built from group interaction and inputs from end users.

"Industry is leapfrogging right past static AR directly to group-connected, collaborative AR, where the emerging technologies like smart glasses are inevitably taking us," said Khan.

Crowd-powered explained

If you are like me, the term “crowd-powered” is new. I will even admit that the term “augmented reality,” given its new techno-centric and enhanced context, was something I needed to research. 

What CrowdOptic is terming “crowd-powered” to mean is rather ingenious. It takes a "heat" signal –what it says is  the next evolution of location-based services that recognizes the hottest crowd activity in real time as it occurs, and also after the fact – using powerful analytics.  It uses the information it has about where smartphone cameras are located and where they are pointed to instantly filter mobile media and create new opportunities for eyewitness engagement. This is the augmented reality.

What CrowdOptic does is identify, tag and rebroadcast the live event augmented experience to the world, on mobile, social TV and second screens. It has already been used to power a wide range of apps that let users aim their phones to connect, report news, find friends, alternate broadcasts, cast a vote and discover others who share their focus and interests.

If you are interested in learning more about crowd-powered experiences, AR and CrowdOptic, the company will be presenting the technology at Carnegie Mellon University Silicon Valley Talks on Computing Systems (TOCS) on June 4, 2013 and at the Augmented World Expo. There is never a bad reason to go to Toronto, and I think kicking the tires at next year’s Augmented World Expo is something I am going to investigate.

Edited by Alisen Downey
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