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When Augmented Reality Converges With A.I. And The Internet of Things



The confluence of augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things is rapidly giving rise to a new digital reality.

Remember when people said mobile was going to take over?

Well, we’re there. Some of the biggest brands in our world are totally mobile: Instagram, Snapchat, Uber. 84% (!) of Facebook’s ad revenue now comes from mobile.

And mobile will, sooner or later, be replaced by augmented reality devices, and it will look nothing like Google Glass.

Not the future of augmented reality.

Why some predictions fail

When viewing trends in technology in isolation, it’s inevitable you end up misunderstanding them. What happens is that we freeze time, take a trend and project the trend’s future into a society that looks almost exactly like today’s society.

This drains topics of substance and replaces it with hype. It causes smart people to ignore it, while easily excited entrepreneurs jump on the perceived opportunity with little to no understanding of it. Three of these domains right now are blockchain, messaging bots, and virtual reality, although I count myself lucky to know a lot of brilliant people in these areas, too.

What I’m trying to say is: just because it’s hyped, doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve your attention. Don’t believe the hype, and dig deeper.

The great convergence

In order to understand the significance of a lot of today’s hype-surrounded topics, you have to link them. Artificial intelligence, smart homes & the ‘Internet of Things’, and augmented reality will all click together seamlessly a decade from now.

And that shift is already well underway.

Artificial intelligence

The first time I heard about AI was as a kid in the 90s. The context: video games. I heard that non-playable characters (NPCs) or ‘bots’ would have scripts that learned from my behaviour, so that they’d get better at defeating me. That seemed amazing, but their behaviour remained predictable.

In recent years, there have been big advances in artificial intelligence. This has a lot to do with the availability of large data sets that can be used to train AI. A connected world is a quantified world and data sets are continuously updated. This is useful for training algorithms that are capable of learning.

This is also what has given rise to the whole chatbot explosion right now. Our user interfaces are changing: instead of doing things ourselves, explicitly, AI can be trained to interpret our requests or even predict and anticipate them.

Conversational interfaces sucked 15 years ago. They came with a booklet. You had to memorize all the voice commands. You had to train the interface to get used to your voice… Why not just use a remote control? Or a mouse & keyboard? But in the future, getting things done by tapping on our screens may look as archaic as it would be to do everything from a command-line interface (think MS-DOS).

There are certain benefits to command-line interfaces… (xkcd)

So, right now we see all the tech giants diving into conversational interfaces (Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Facebook Messenger, and Microsoft, err… Tay?) and in many cases opening up APIs to let external developers build apps for them. That’s right: chatbots are APPS that live inside or on top of conversational platforms.

So we get new design disciplines: conversational interfaces, and ‘zero UI’ which refers to voice-based interfaces. Besides developing logical conversation structures, integrating AI, and anticipating users’ actions, a lot of design effort also goes into the personality of these interfaces.

But conversational interfaces are awkward, right? It’s one of the things that made people uncomfortable with Google Glass: issuing voice commands in public. Optimists argued it would become normalized, just like talking to a bluetooth headset. Yet currently only 6% of of people who use voice assistants ever do so in public… But where we’re going, we won’t need voice commands. At least not as many.

The Internet of Things

There are still a lot of security concerns around littering our lives with smart devices: from vending machines in our offices, to refrigerators in our homes, to self-driving cars… But it seems to be an unstoppable march, with Amazon (Alexa) and Google (Home) intensifying the battle for the living room last year:

Let’s converge with the trend of artificial intelligence and the advances made in that domain. Instead of having the 2016 version of voice-controlled devices in our homes and work environments, these devices’ software will develop to the point where they get a great feeling of context. Through understanding acoustics, they can gain spacial awareness. If that doesn’t do it, they could use WiFi signals like radar to understand what’s going on. Let’s not forget cameras, too.

Your smart device knows what’s in the fridge before you do, what the weather is before you even wake up, it may even see warning signs about your health before you perceive them yourself (smart toilets are real). And it can use really large data sets to help us with decision-making.

And that’s the big thing: our connected devices are always plugged into the digital layer of our reality, even when we’re not interacting with them. While we may think we’re ‘offline’ when not near our laptops, we have started to look at the world through the lens of our digital realities. We’re acutely aware of the fact that we can photograph things and share them to Instagram or Facebook, even if we haven’t used the apps in the last 24 hours. Similarly, we go places without familiarizing ourselves with the layout of the area, because we know we can just open Google Maps any time. We are online, even when we’re offline.

Your connected home will be excellent at anticipating your desires and behaviour. It’s in that context that augmented reality will reach maturity.

Augmented reality

You’ve probably already been using AR. For a thorough take on the trend, go read my piece on how augmented reality is overtaking mobile. Two current examples of popular augmented reality apps: Snapchat and Pokémon Go. The latter is a great example of how you can design a virtual interaction layer for the physical world.

So the context in which you have to imagine augmented reality reaching maturity is a world in which our environments are smart and understand our intentions… in some cases predicting them before we even become aware of them.

Our smart environments will interact with our AR device to pull up HUDs when we most need them. So we won’t have to do awkward voice commands, because a lot of the time, it will already be taken care of.

This means we don’t actually have to wear computers on our heads. Meaning that the future of augmented reality can come through contact lenses, rather than headsets.

But who actually wants to bother with that, right? What’s the point if you can already do everything you need right now? Perhaps you’re too young to remember, but that’s exactly what people said about mobile phones years ago. Even without contact lenses, all of these trends are underway now.

Augmented reality is an audiovisual medium, so if you want to prepare, spend some time learning about video game design, conversational interfaces, and get used to sticking your head in front of a camera.

There will be so many opportunities emerging on the way there, from experts on privacy and security (even political movements), to designing the experiences, to new personalities… because AR will have its own PewDiePie.

It’s why I just bought a mic and am figuring out a way to add audiovisual content to the mix of what I produce for MUSIC x TECH x FUTURE. Not to be the next PewDiePie, but to be able to embrace mediums that will extend into trends that will shape our digital landscapes for the next 20 years. More on that soon.

And if you’re reading this and you’re in music, then you’re in luck:
People already use music to augment their reality.


About the Author

This article was written by Bas Grasmayer. Bas is the Product Director at IDAGIO: streaming, reinvented for classical music. He write about trends and innovation in tech and how they may impact the music business. see more.


Women on Top in Tech – Dr. Sanna Gaspard, Founder and CEO of Rubitection



(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Dr. Sanna Gaspard is the Founder and CEO of Rubitection, a medical device start-up developing a diagnostic tool for early stage pressure detection, assessment, and management. She is an Entrepreneur, inventor, and biomedical engineer with a passion for innovation, entrepreneurship, healthcare and medical devices. She has received recognition and awards including being selected as a finalist for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards(’13), a semi-finalist for the Big C competition (’14), a finalist for the Mass Challenge Business accelerator in Boston, and taking 1st place at the 3 Rivers Investment Venture Fair’s Technology showcase (‘11). Her vision is to make the Rubitect Assessment System the global standard solution for early bedsore detection and management.

What makes you do what you do? 
I am driven to have impact and improve healthcare as I have a strong drive to problem solve, comes up with new ideas, and see them come to life.

How did you rise in the industry you are in? 
I first focused on getting the educational background and then I pursued the goals I have for myself. I got my PhD in Biomedical Engineering with a specialization in medical device development. Having the educational background is important as a woman and minority to assist people in taking your seriously.  After completing my PhD, I focused on bringing my invention for a medical device for early bedsore detection and prevention called the Rubitect Assessment System to market to help save lives and improve care.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
I started my startup, Rubitection , because I felt it was the best way to bring the technology to market. I knew that if I did not try to commercialize the technology, it would not make it to the doctors and nurses. I also have confidence that I could manage developing the technology since I had taken classes on entrepreneurship and had my PhD in biomedical engineering with a specialization in medical devices.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work? How did you make a match if you did, and how did you end up being mentored by him/her?
No, I don’t have a specific mentor in my field. I am looking for one at the moment. However, I do look up to Steve Jobs and Oprah as examples of how one can start with nothing and work their way up and build a successful, global, and reputable business and brand.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?  
I first try to find people who have fundamental technical or work experience to be competent to complete the work. I then evaluate the person for intangible skills like independent thinking, reliability, leadership, resilience, organizational skills, strong work ethic, open mindedness/flexibility, and good communication skills.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why? 
I consciously make an effort as a minority woman in tech, I intimately understand the need to promote diversity within my business and outside my business. I first hire the best people for the job and also make a point to hire women and minorities qualified for the position.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?  
It takes resilience, vision, being a team player, an ability to inspire others and delegate work, knowing your weakness, and knowing when to put your business or yourself first.

Advice for others?
My advice to others is to take calculated risks, pursue every opportunity, surround yourself with supporters, build your team with smart dedicated people, and stay focused on your vision. I am striving to implement this advice myself as I work towards commercializing my technology for early bedsore detection, grow my team, and recruit clinical partners to address an $11 billion US healthcare problem which affects millions around the world.

If anyone is interested in learning more about our work or company, please contact us at [email protected].

To learn more about Dr. Sanna Gaspard, CEO of Rubitection visit:

If you’d like to get in touch with Dr. Sanna Gaspard, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn:

To learn more about Rubitection, please click here.

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Women on Top in Tech – Suzanne Wisse-Huiskes, Founder of MatchBox Consultancy and an Advocate at the Global Tech Advocates Network



(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Suzanne Wisse-Huiskes is a Strategic Consultant and Founder at MatchBox Consultancy with offices in the United Kingdom and Nigeria. MatchBox provides expert advise in Impact Investing, Alternative Finance, Venture Capital, Fundraising, Women Leadership, Business Development, and Economic Empowerment. She is also an Advocate at the Global Tech Advocates Network. Dedicated to challenging talented entrepreneurs, Suzanne is an official mentor at startup/accelerator programs in Africa, Europe, and Asia. She was awarded top 400 most successful women in the Netherlands for two years in a row.

What makes you do what you do?
My drive is to enable entrepreneurs to grow their businesses by improving their access to funding. This can elevate an entire community. I believe that Alternative Finance can potentially be a powerful catalyst for shifting the way our financial markets work.

I love the ingredients of the alternative finance market: the innovative nature of the industry; the global playing field; the turbo speed of change. The market is booming and shows little sign of slowing down.

I founded MatchBox to support highly motivated entrepreneurs and investors in their mission to create profitable businesses with impact. MatchBox has become a trusted partner to these clients: they value our strategic and operational expertise, as well as our strong global network used to consult and connect. The requests vary from developing large investing programs to ensure access to capital for SME’s, to developing funding strategies for entrepreneurs. What works in one country may not work in others. We understand the local players and the local markets. This work is fully aligned with what is important to me.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?
I’ve been in the crowdfunding industry since 2008. Back then, Facebook only had a 100 million active users as opposed to the 2.000 million users today. Kickstarter, one of the world’s largest funding platforms, was yet to launch. Joining the industry that early in the game, allowed me to rise with it. I was fortunate to be part of initiatives that pushed the Alternative Finance ecosystem, first in Amsterdam, then on a broader European level.

Then later on other emerging markets began to interest me. I moved to Nigeria, to work in Africa’s fastest growing economy and home to exciting trends in capital and fintech. I familiarized myself with the investing ecosystems in African countries. Today, I work in alternative finance ecosystems in Asia, Africa and Europe. Being able to learn, share and compare best practices from different economies to me is key in the rise of the industry. Currently, the crowdfunding market in Asia alone is worth over 200 billion Euros. That’s huge!

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
I’ve always followed my heart in my professional life. I focus on work that I am passionate about and am not afraid to take the path less travelled. So leadership, demographics never held me back. With my experience and skills I am well positioned to successfully get the job done. For me it doesn’t feel like it’s a stretch.

Even more so, my clients see it as a big advantage to have women on the job. I recently worked on an impact investing program in West Africa focussing on women-led SME’s and experienced the benefits of a diverse team. Women entrepreneurs see the world through a different lens and, in turn, do things differently.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work? How did you make a match if you did, and how did you end up being mentored by him/her?
The industry was completely new when I started, with no seniors to learn from. As a strong believer in mentorship, I do reach out to people in other industries for feedback and to bounce ideas.

I also learn a lot from working with various entrepreneurs. Collaborating with Sir Richard Branson in the beginning of my career was encouraging. We did a successful Crowdfunding Campaign for the elephants in Botswana. But I’m equally impressed by entrepreneurs that make a huge impact on their community no matter the circumstances. I’ve seen exceptional people grow businesses in the poorest regions of Nigeria. One can only admire their leadership.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
For me, mentoring young entrepreneurs is a great way to develop and grow talent. My focus is usually on two mentees at a time to ensure there is enough time to discuss ideas and challenges. I worked at fintech startups for almost 10 years before founding MatchBox. So there are plenty of stories to share and learn from, both on failures as well as on successes.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
I’m very vocal on the need for diversity. I’ve always found myself in the male dominated groups. First at University, then in my first corporate position, and later as a Board Member. At some of my MBA Finance classes, I was the only woman in a room of 50 men. It never bothered or intimidated me. It just made me work a little harder.

Nonetheless, diversity is much needed. I strongly believe the industry is missing out on many brilliant women. That is why I dedicate a great deal of time mentoring female entrepreneurs. We discuss the tools their businesses require to grow and attract the right type of capital. Investors still have a different approach towards female founders. This year, we are launching an initiative called ‘the Republic of Female Founders’, to provide practical tools and guidelines that are specific for this group.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
My general rule of thumb: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. For me, it’s all about collaborative leadership. My industry is becoming increasingly complex, so sharing best practices will bring us far. That’s why I became an Advocate of the Tech Shanghai Advocates, part of the Global Tech Advocates. This group of senior leaders in the tech community is created to champion and accelerate the growth of the local technology sector.

I am also a fan of the CrowdfundingHub and Crowddialog in Europe, and Ingressive in Africa for similar reasons: Ordinary people doing extraordinary things because they believe in the positive impact of innovation in finance. My peers are all trailblazers in the alternative finance industry, I consider myself to be in great company.

Advice for others?
I strongly believe in collaboration, so building business relationships is key. I truly foster my relations. To me it doesn’t feel like work, but rather like building bonds. Seek opportunities to connect and reach out. It really pays off to have a strong network. At MatchBox, I work with a network of exceptional local experts. If you need advice and consulting on your funding strategy, impact investing program or crowdfunding strategy, we will gladly work with you. Contact us at MatchBox.

If you’d like to get in touch with Suzanne Wisse – Huiskes, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn:

To learn more about MatchBox Consultancy, please click here.

To learn more about  Global Tech Advocates Network, please click here.

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