Reality Bites: The Pixelbug Story

 

Reality Bites: The Pixelbug Story
AR brings education to life for children, making learning a happy interactive experience.

dubai - The start-up has successfully adapted augmented reality for children's edutainment

By Sanjiv Purushotham

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Published: Mon 16 Jan 2017, 7:54 PM

Last updated: Mon 16 Jan 2017, 9:59 PM

Amongst other successes, the start-up featured today has successfully adapted Augmented Reality (AR) to Edutainment for children. AR brings education to life for children, making learning a happy interactive experience. On October 18, 2016 this column had described the history of AR. It had also made reference to an article in fastcompany.com that indicates that investments in the AR and Virtual Reality (VR) space will exceed $150 billion.

On December 6, 2016, Amazon set out to change the way people shop for groceries. The launch of Amazon Go's store in Seattle visibly blurred the lines between the physical and the digital space. Although shoppers physically buy at the store, the entire experience is digital. Physical shopping has gone virtual through the usage of facial recognition, the application of artificial intelligence, geo-location and the elimination of the entire check-out process,. Regardless of the success of Amazon Go, it is self-evident that the physical retail industry has reached a bend in the road from which there will be no going back.

The convergence of the physical and the virtual world is happening in multiple areas. The list includes applications in medicine, art, construction, education, precision engineering and tourism amongst an ever expanding number of other verticals.

The story
In a dimly-lit cinema hall, a little boy of Middle Eastern origin watched the Back To The Future trilogy with rapt attention. Like many of the young minds around the world that watched the series, there was an explosion of thoughts about time, space and possibility. Dany El-Eid decided right then that he had to live his dream.

No wonder when you talk to him now, you cannot miss his wide-eyed wonder and infectious enthusiasm for all that is happening around.  Right through his studies, he kept his finger on the pulse of technology and the creative arts.

El-Eid is the Founder and CEO of Pixelbug (www.pixelbug.com), an award winning Virtual and Augmented Reality company. The first flagship product is Colorbug (www.getcolorbug.com) a family-oriented edutainment AR app launched in 2015 and available on the iOS and Google stores. Colorbug was an evolution from the pioneering work that Pixelbug had done in creating a platform to help global brands such as Proctor & Gamble, Lego and Citibank create an AR experience for their customers.

Looking at the work done for these companies, it was surprising to see that Pixelbug, a UAE-based company, has been doing cutting-edge AR work at least a couple of years ahead of the Pokemon Go craze. El-Eid has no rancour or cynicism. In fact, he's really glad that more people are waking up to the possibilities of AR and VR in this part of the world.

His inbuilt enthusiasm and energy has kept him motivated from his first job onwards. The MD of the first company that he worked in as a digital media specialist would often come around trying to understand exactly what El-Eid was up to. This was at a time that Facebook had not even begun to be popular and people had no understanding of the power of digital media.  He then went on to launch Out of The Blue, a Bluetooth-based marketing technology. The company did not take off.

That did not dampen his enthusiasm in the least. He got back to a job. While working he participated in the Stars of Science contest instituted by the Qatar Foundation. He was one of the 16 finalists. With this recognition and the support that came with it, he built the first AR headset, even before Google Glass was launched. This recognition validated his strong belief in his Middle Eastern identity. It helped reinforce to him that, given the right environment and encouragement, innovation from this part of the world is on par with the best.

He launched Pixelbug. As soon as he got his first big brand name as a customer, he quit his job and became a full-time entrepreneur. And from then on, the company has grown from success to success, first with implementations for corporate customers and now the Colorbug app. You can experience Pixelbug's AR and VR by downloading the Colorbug app and templates. Another fun way of experiencing AR is to go to the Lost Chambers Aquarium in the Atlantis on the Palm. An AR-based virtual treasure hunt will guide you and reward you for searching and discovering species of marine life in the aquarium.

The next step for Pixelbug is to create the equivalent of a website builder like WordPress for AR. Using this platform, corporate organisations can tap into the Pixelbug platform to fully create their own AR experience from within their own app or digital interface.  Think one step beyond Amazon Go. You could enter a store and point your phone at anything you want to buy. A virtual assistant will pop up and give you key information that you need to know about the product including price and availability. You could even query the assistant in real time.

Pixelbug has won a number of awards including the MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab Entrepreneurship prize in 2015. This year, Pixelbug was a finalist in the highly prestigious Dubai Future Accelerators event, lining up the company for even more success.

The writer is a director at Vyashara. He's a digital banking and digital financial services evangelist, practitioner, advisor and consultant. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy. He can be reached at ves@vyashara.com.



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