Mr. Vijay Karunakaran, CEO, InGage Technologies was sipping coffee with his wife Mrs. Vanitha Venugopal, a former Mobile Technologist at Motorola, when she seeded the idea of an Augmented Reality (AR) mobile application for the upcoming Rajnikanth starrer Kochadaiiyaan. Immediately possessed by the idea, it took them no longer than a week to pitch it to Rajni’s team and get a go-ahead. What resulted is India’s first 4D Augmented Reality application that has been lauded for its design and detailing.
‘Superstar Rajnikanth boasts of a very strong brand value in India and abroad. In the US especially, you will find very staunch supporters. This app was our contribution to our beloved star,’ says Vijay proudly.
‘When u go watch a movie, the shot is fixed by the cameraman, whatever he has shot is what you see. But what if you wanted to see a particular angle? You can’t do so in the theatre. So what we did was capture Rajni’s photorealistic image and used it to render the superstar real-time to make him come alive in a fan’s home environment through their smartphones.’
The result was a 4D application that InGage rolled out exclusively for Karbonn phones. Fans can download the Augmented Reality app and use their camera to shoot any physical object. The camera sees and processes, and a virtual model of Rajni’s Kochaadaiiyaan avatar comes alive in that physical setting. One can make Rajni fight or even recite a dialogue just as in the film, and as bonus can also view the same scene from any and every angle thanks to the high quality render. The app wins because it’s not made to only run on high-end phones, but also smartphones that cost between INR 4000 – 8000, which approximately 80% of our population possesses, a first for its kind.
It is another feather in the cap for Mr. Karunakaran, who has worked on brands such as Tropicana, Nike and Adidas in the past. We move past the app and ask him to opine on the state of AR in our country.
‘I think AR is very widely and loosely used in our country. Most of the Indian AR apps are rather gimmicky. When you think of AR, you imagine a cool object that can interact with you. Currently, only a few companies can do that.’ He asserts.
On a brighter note, Mr. Karunakaran believes the technology’s potential is unbelievable. ‘So far, we have only skimmed the surface. AR can be used anywhere there a simulation required. Industries that could do with cool visualizations can benefit immensely from AR. A few industries I can think of are real estate, construction and education. Before a building is built, we can simulate models of how it will look like, to aide learning, we can make a simple drawing book experience come to life with a mobile device. Imagine if a child draws an elephant and it comes alive on your device screen, walking around and making sounds. It will help the child learn better,’ he explains.
And what about marketers? Do they know what they want from AR? ‘Well, some of the guys who have approached me think that Modi’s hologram projections are AR (laughs). I think we still need to spend time showing people what AR actually is, and what it can do. In fact, I’ve done a couple of projects free of cost just to show the potential of AR. I believe it will help in educating people and convince them about the immersive nature of the technology.’
What next for InGage? ‘All the things I mentioned in the applications section. AR based medical simulations, educational tools and architecture visualisations are on the cards. And like I said, we go beyond tricks and gimmicks. We just create a beautiful, memorable experience.’
It does sound like exciting times lie ahead for technology junkies. Augmented Reality is here.