Bringing Augmented Reality to the Tourism Industry with Social Bee | Hacker Noon

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Jason Labaw is the CEO and founder of Social Bee, a Seattle-based augmented reality platform that brings the tourism experience to the next level. In this slogging thread, Jason answers all our questions about augmented reality, as well as its connection and its impact on tourism.

This Slogging thread by Limarc Ambalina, Jack Boreham, Amy Shah, Zaeem Shoaib, Jason LaBaw, Daniel and Mónica Freitas occurred in slogging’s official #amas channel, and has been edited for readability.

Hello @channel Please join me in welcoming our newest AMA guest Jason Labaw, CEO and founder of Social Bee, a Seattle-based augmented reality platform that brings the tourism experience to the next level.  Jason will be around for the next 48 hours to answer all your questions!

Please hop in and ask Jason anything about: 

  • Augmented Reality: From games to traveling, the journey of this technological advance.
  • How is AR evolving tourism nowadays?
  • Five benefits of implementing AR in the tourism industry.
  • Mixing reality and virtuality: AR is the best of both worlds. 
  • Daydreaming with AR, the new way to see the world.
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Hey, Jason LaBaw thanks for joining us! We’ll be opening up this thread to compile questions, but please feel free to hop in anytime to answer questions within the next 48 hours. We appreciate you being here!

My first question/comment is: thanks for this AMA. I’m addicted to VR and absolutely love AR. What are some of the most impressive AR apps on the market today that you respect the most? We see big names like Pokemon Go and Dragon Quest Walk coming from big-name developers. And I think AR is definitely being pushed to the mainstream by video games.

Limarc Ambalina – Thanks for having me! Agreed the gaming aspect or AR/VR is really exciting. That said, I’m most interested in and excited about AR because as we saw with Pokémon Go, it presents an opportunity for technology to incentivize and influence people to get out into the real world. As for AR apps that I respect most… well, I really like what IKEA did, it’s a very practical application of the technology. Others like AR Runner and Peak Visor have to be two of my favorite.

Hi, Jason LaBaw, great to have you here. Can you tell us a bit about how social bee uses AR in its tourism experiences?

I am so curious about this also! Jason LaBaw, Thanks for your comments!

How can AR be effective for business purposes rather than a novelty? Many people have told me they view AR as more of a novelty.

Hi, Amy Shah – GREAT question! Due to technology limitations and lack of consumer-grade hardware, AR has been a bit of a novelty. It’s an application for technicians and service providers is well documented so I won’t go into much detail on that, but I will say there’s not a single industry that won’t benefit from AR, I believe in the long run it will be as impactful as the mouse was to human-computer interaction. Let’s take an online fashion retailer as an example. An AR app that can get the person’s measurements for them, and allow them to “try on” different looks would be a great customer experience and sales tool. The big part of AR that is making HUGE gains and not enough people are talking about is computer vision and computers’ ability to understand what it’s looking at. Imagine your AR glasses telling you the disposition of a colleague in real-time based on their body language. The applications are unlimited.

Hi, Jason LaBaw. Great to have you here for this AMA!
My question is about gaming in AR. Since VR has really struggled to go mainstream in gaming, do you think there might be more potential for gaming in AR than in VR? We have seen some great success stories like Pokemon Go. What do you think needs to happen to get a leap in the AR-gaming combo?

@Zaeem Shoaib – another great question, thank you. That’s the exact question I ask myself and my team daily, “What if we could make exploring the world as fun as playing a video game.” Might we inspire a lot more people to get outside and connect with the world and people around them??? I sure think so. In regards to an AR leap, The short answer is consumer-grade AR glasses (or contact lenses) with a 5G connection and about 6 integrated cameras… which we’re really only a year or two away from in my estimation. As computing power and AI/ML become more advanced AR + computer vision will be able to create worlds and experiences that challenge our concept of reality. Imagine, an AR application that turned an open field into an Indiana Jones and the lost crusaders where the user has to pass each of the tests. Combine all of that with a VR-like sensory suit… it’s gonna be a wild world we’re entering.

Hey, Jason LaBaw, From your point of view, will augmented reality drastically modify the business model of the tourism sector?

Daniel? “will augmented reality drastically modify the business model of the tourism sector?” – IMO, yes. AR will fundamentally change the way humans interact with technology/computers/data etc. It was as impactful as the mouse was to the adoption of personal computers. Specific to tourism, I believe AR will impact the customer experience at every touchpoint, from discovery to evaluation purchase and post-purchase. Technology already helps people find and buy experiences, where I’m most interested is in how AR can improve the actual experience, whether that’s a hike, a group cooking class, or exploring a new neighborhood.

I have a similar question to Daniel. At least in Japan, Pokemon Go would send people to certain locations, like parks, outside shopping, etc. as hot spots for rare pokemon to be caught. I think there is a huge retail opportunity here when AR apps get that big. If …BestBuy were to sponsor Pokemon Go, for example, the game could create a hotspot near Bestbuy during an important launch at Bestbuy to boost sales/foot traffic.

Is that the kind of revenue stream Social Bee hopes to incorporate?

Limarc Ambalina – great question and great idea. I think with the right game/incentive that could be a really cool revenue stream.

Jason LaBaw, Hi Jason! Thank you for being here! I’m very curious about this merge between AR and tourism. How can AR be a perk to the tourism sector, particularly private businesses? I can see how destinations and travel agencies can use it to promote their venues, but how can the support services companies take advantage of AR?

Mónica Freitas – Thanks for being here and asking a great question. Again, my blanket statement is that every business should have an AR strategy. I think our app Social Bee is a great example of how small businesses can create real, passive income, creating great experiences (aka value for the consumer). We’re transitioning from a service-based economy to an experience-based economy, where the product or service provided to the consumer is a bi-product of the experience. A great example is Nike training app, which creates an experience where the sale of shoes and apparel are a bi-product. For small business owners and entrepreneurs, AR will open all sorts of new markets. As an example, experiences uploaded to our platform are automagically translated to 26+ languages, which allows this business owner to drastically expand its offering and its customer base. The thing I want people to remember is that Augmented Reality isn’t just putting a 3D animated character on the screen. It’s computer vision, it’s AI/ML, it’s plane detection and making sense of the worldview and the items within. The combination of these elements allows us to provide information and context for what the user is looking at that moment.

Jason LaBaw, taking a trip down memory lane, what made you come up with the idea. What inspired you?

Jack Boreham – Thanks for the question, Jack. It was a combination of a lot of things. The driving factor behind it was at the time I saw a lot of friends and family getting sucked into their phones and the dark side of social. You know, we’ve all seen it, a group of friends meeting up at a restaurant and they’re all on their phones seeing what other people are doing… not very social. I wanted to create technology that would get people off the couch, out exploring the world, truly connecting, and BEEING Social… hence the name Social Bee. That’s our ultimate aim.

Hey Jason LaBaw, something more Marketing Related, How can travel influencers benefit from an app such as Social Bee Adventures? Why would they consider leaving their audience (Titok/Instagram) to create experiences on other platforms?

Daniel – I think TikTok and Instagram are great platforms for creating awareness, but it’s very hard for creators to make money on those platforms. Whereas with Social Bee, creators can create experiences and make money every time consumer purchase their experience. Whether that’s a scavenger hunt, a city tour, a hike, anything the creator can dream up and provide value to consumers with.

Thanks for taking the time to join us on Slogging Jason LaBaw! Where can our readers find you and follow your great work with Social Bee?

Hi Limarc, the best place will be: https://www.instagram.com/socialbeeadventures/

by Slogging (Slack Blogging) @slogging.Your Slack? Insightful words by highly intelligent people. Your tech blog? Not so much. Write together. #SloggingBeta

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