ESQ: Tell us more about Beem. What do you guys do?
JANOSCH AMSTUTZ: I believe that Beem is the biggest advance in communications since Skype—a high-definition augmented reality platform that brings humans into your space through your smartphone. Beem has developed its industry-agnostic tool for both pre-recorded content and real-time teleconferencing applications. It also helps brands tell their story in the environment of the customer. Using just a smartphone, HoloMe’s unique visual solution facilitates the creation of high-quality, life-like human holograms that are broadcasted into augmented reality.
ESQ: What’s the motivation for starting Beem?
JANOSCH AMSTUTZ: After my mother passed away, I realised that our time on this planet is finite and that if you want to achieve something you shouldn’t wait. The inspiration to conceive Beem came from the desire to find a new way to capture memories and moments. I always had a want to become the best person I possibly could be in my work as well as in my private life, and Beem has become the driver for that mentality. The concept of capturing humans in AR arose from the fact that traditional memory capture mediums fall short. They are not emotive or immersive, but detached. HoloMe’s technology has been able to solve this disconnect by allowing moments to play out in our own physical space.
AR allows us to lift our eyes up from our devices and refocus on the world around us by only displaying useful information onto our surroundings.
ESQ: Are holograms and AR the way of the future? How would it benefit humans?
JANOSCH AMSTUTZ: AR has come a long way from a science-fiction concept to a science-based reality. Already mobile phones are such an integral part of our lives that they might as well be extensions of our bodies; however the major challenge of the mobile revolution has been to avoid technology becoming an intrusive force in our everyday lives. AR allows us to lift our eyes up from our devices and refocus on the world around us by only displaying useful information onto our surroundings. AR has the ability to give us super-human capabilities too—from feeding our eyes with curated data about what we are seeing in real- time to enhancing experiences for the visually impaired.
ESQ: Are there any misconceptions regarding hologram technology?
JANOSCH AMSTUTZ: Yes, there are. First, AR can replace everything and everyone. While there has been much hype lately of a future without jobs due to advances in technology, AR exists to empower the workforce, not replace them. Technology such as Microsoft's Hololens 2 encourages workers to work smarter and faster, complementing their experience, not taking it over entirely.
Second, the myth that AR is new. AR’s history extends back to the '60s, when Ivan Sutherland, a then associate professor at Harvard University, created the first AR head-mounted display. Though the term AR wasn’t coined until 1990 by Boeing researcher, Tom Caudell, its existence long precedes its naming. Only recently have advancements in smartphone technologies unlocked this reality for us, the general population.
Third, augmented reality is just for gaming and entertainment. Augmented reality has many applications to the world around you. From architecture and construction to communication and story telling, we see limitless opportunities to use AR to enhance daily life.
ESQ: What’s special about the hologram of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau for this issue of Esquire Singapore? Was it hard to make a hologram work from a web-based URL rather than an app?
JANOSCH AMSTUTZ: AR traditionally requires a mobile app to function. However for the hologram of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau featured in this issue of Esquire, we created a world-first by running the experience through a web-based medium. This is the first time that AR humans have been created through a web portal. This is coined as ‘WebXR’ and will be key to the mass adoption of AR experiences.
ESQ: How do the Beem products function?
JANOSCH AMSTUTZ: HoloMe has released two distinct products to market: Beem Pre-Recorded is an automated platform allowing corporates and creatives to seamlessly create assets of humans for AR, and HoloMe Real-Time is an AR communications tool that allows high-definition human telepresence streamed in real-time over mobile Internet (3G/4G).
ESQ: Tell us the most memorable or unique project you’ve taken on for Beem.
JANOSCH AMSTUTZ: Beem collaborated with London College of Fashion’s Innovation Agency on a behind-closed-doors project at the start of London Fashion Week 2019 to create the world’s first real-time AR fashion show. Traditionally, AR experiences rely on pre-recorded or animated content being superimposed into real-world settings, but this project allowed a select number of users around the globe to view an AR catwalk experience as the show was taking place.
In line with this future-gazing vision, Beem captured streaming footage of the models before they stepped out on the catwalk, providing an opportunity to view the fashion show from almost anywhere in the world in real time. This technology could soon allow designers to share their collections with a wider audience than just those at their chosen show venue or those watching a live video stream. It can now give brands the ability to bring their catwalk models into your immediate environment as an AR experience so that you can view the collections as though they were right in front of you.
It never made logical sense to separate technology from the real world; why look at a digital map when trying to navigate around a real space; why restrict experiences to small screens?
ESQ: As phone-based AR builds momentum at tech giants like Apple, Google and Facebook, how do you ensure competitiveness with Beem?
JANOSCH AMSTUTZ: AR is more of a platform than a distinctive function. Therefore, it is easy to co-exist alongside tech giants like Apple, Google and Facebook in the same way that third-party apps are still able to flourish on Apple and Google phones now. The true scale and extent of AR as a platform is hard to grasp in 2019, however the way we consume information is rapidly changing. AR will replace the smartphone home screen, and in only a few years from now we will wonder how we ever lived without AR.
ESQ: Retail seems to be one of the first industries to accept AR. What other industries do you think will benefit from this technology and why?
JANOSCH AMSTUTZ: Traditional retail is undergoing innovative change in order to remain relevant against the likes of Amazon and Alibaba. As a result, these companies have been eager first-movers on AR experiences. However, AR is becoming prominent in other sectors like sports and media broadcasting, education and industrial training.
ESQ: How will the AR market evolve and develop in the future?
JANOSCH AMSTUTZ: AR is fast becoming the new medium for information transfer and is set to replace mobile operating systems as the next computing platform. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook is more than a fan of AR, going so far as to say that AR use will become as common as “eating three meals a day”. Similarly, other major tech players like Facebook, Snap and Microsoft have put major resources behind making an AR world a reality. It never made logical sense to separate technology from the real world; why look at a digital map when trying to navigate around a real space; why restrict experiences to small screens? The AR transition will be profound, and it will definitely change the way we experience stories and transfer information for the better.