The Finnish company, with offices in Helsinki, Hong Kong, and San Fransisco, aims to use its technology to offer spatial mapping and visual positioning for everyone, everywhere.
— We make AR available for indoor and outdoor spaces, Päivi Laakso-Kuivalainen, CMO, explains.
— We want to support every different device there is for spatial mapping and visual positioning and this enables spatial AR — AR which is tied into spaces, all the way from room level to city scale to country scale level, Anttoni Vesterinen, CEO, adds.
Immersal’s main product is called the 5G Metaverse Toolbox, which gives the possibility to create maps, the 3D representations for the different spaces and then uses maps also for so-called localization.
— Localization means merging the digital content and the digital environment with the real environment, Vesterinen explains. Our target channel is mobile network operators worldwide.
— They tap every customer, the end-user, one way or the other. For spatial AR, the user interface is a mobile phone, tablet, or smart glasses — which all have connections. Then, the mobile operators have connections to local brands and local advertisers, local companies, who are natural clients and natural users of spatial AR, especially with 5G. They are posing for more and more vertical solutions to get out of the operators’ dilemma of just being a data pile. They want to be partnering businesses for their customers, the local brands, and the local enterprises, says Vesterinen.
— It’s a great opportunity for the mobile operators to be more than the data pile, Laakso-Kuivalainen adds. The AR is going to be one of those applications that needs a low latency of 5G and finally, there is something that is really needing 5G. So far, they’ve been selling 5G only with ’you know, it’s better — it’s a bigger number!’ but now, there is something on top of it that actually needs it.
And what do you offer them and your other clients?
— Except for the toolbox I mentioned, we also, through our ecosystem of developers, offer applications and vertical applications ourselves. That can be, for example, AR for stadiums, AR gaming for different locations, such as city centres, and AR for retail and point-of-sale solutions, says Vesterinen.
— One example of a city-scale project is that you can have an AR Tetris on the side of a skyscraper. The user looks through his or her phone or virtual glasses to play Tetris outdoors. The whole building is your game! says Laakso-Kuivalainen.
Have you tried it?
— Yes, it was a free-to-play game with an advertisement business model in Japan last year, says Vesterinen. Currently, the situation is interesting where you don’t need any permission from the property owner if you are outdoors because it’s a public space. The interesting field there is that you can play content that is competitive to, for example, retail facilities on top of their physical properties — and there’s no legislation.
What’s the current state of the technologies that you work with?
— The base technology when we talk about spatial technology and facial mapping is already mature. Now, we’re talking about the need for commercial solutions, content, spatially tied games, and information — including the maps to support that — and the maps of the 3D representations that we create. So, it is coming, piece by piece.
And are there any limits? What do you see from a futural perspective?
— In three years from now, we will have this in a browser, so that we don’t need to download an app. And we will have volumetric video being basically real-life-looking objects standing here around us and having a real-time conversation with them even though they might be on a different part of the planet…, Vesterinen concludes.