Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mobile Expert Interview Series: Nokia's John Choate

I had the pleasure of interviewing Nokia's John Choate last week. He is working in the Augmented Reality (AR) space for mobile applications at Nokia's office in San Francisco. Isn't that a cool area to focus on? John's title is PMO 2.0. (Program Management Organization), and he works with the hardware and software sides of the Nokia business to bring them together and to define new technologies and solutions.

A funny side note - Nokia's offices are so high in an office building that their phones have a difficult time getting good reception and Nokia employees only use mobile phones. As a result Nokia employees are running around the office trying to find good reception. I must add that any mobile phone at that altitude, at that location, is likely to have the same challenges. It was just a reminder that there is more work to be done and that disconnected mobile smartphone applications are still needed, even in downtown areas. Can you image a field service technician trying to enter his mobile work order on a smartphone application that is dependent on real-time connectivity in that office?

Let's get back to the interview about Augmented Reality with John. Augmented Reality is described as a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are augmented by virtual computer-generated imagery or data. Nokia's Point and Find solution is one of those solutions. With Point and Find the user can point the camera phone at an object and snap a picture. The picture combined with GPS coordinates immediately identifies the object and displays information about it.

Point and Find is not just for buildings and landmarks. The user can snap a picture of a movie poster and information about the movie, nearby theaters and run times is presented. In addition, you can snap a photo of a 2D bar code and product information will appear. Nokia also supports video as well as digital photos with Point and Find.

AR is fascinating to me. Different movie posters can bring up different information. The posters are recognized and different data is found. For example, the same poster in London, because it is associated with a GPS coordinate, would bring up different information than the same poster in New York.

Slight graphical differences in a poster or sign could tell the Point and Find application to display different information. Your real-world reality can now be supplemented by historical facts, nearby businesses, crime statistics, favorite restaurants and anything else you can image. This is crazy powerful stuff to ponder.

I wrote an article last year called Network-Centric Field Force Automation on how the military is using similar technologies in their network-centric warfare strategies and how field services could learn from it.

John and his colleagues at Nokia have many amazing ideas on how this can add value to the hospitality, retail and travel industries to list a few. For example, a sports tourist spends five times more than a general tourist. It is a demographic that businesses would like to target. How can this be done using AR...use your imagination.

A Nordstrom shopper could simply snap a photo of a Nordstrom store and information about their favorite products, their locations and prices could pop up in AR. Perhaps the application could alert the Nordstrom attendants that a premium shopper had just arrived.

John used terms like "buying a world" in our discussions. A business could "buy a world" in the Point and Find solution and decide what to put in this AR world. Do they want to load this world with historical facts, crime statistics, tourist locations, hotels and restaurants? The owner of this "world" could add as many layers of information as they desired. They could identify the underground electrical lines, sewage systems, accident statistics, health inspection reports of nearby restaurants, tour packages or simply point to a Starbucks.

I appreciate John opening this AR "world" to us and introducing us to Nokia's Point and Find.

Related article:

Mobile Expert Interview Series - Jane and Keelin Glendon of HotButtons

If you are involved in or interested in SAP related enterprise mobility, then you are invited to join the Linkedin group SAP Enterprise Mobility.

Kevin Benedict
Author of the report, Enterprise Mobile Data Solutions, 2009
Mobile Strategy Consultant, Mobile Industry Analyst and Web 2.0 Marketing Expert
twitter: http://twitter.com/krbenedict

***Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility consultant and Web 2.0 marketing expert. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.