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Global Affairs

The AR 9: Augmented Reality Today

 4 min read / 

Augmented reality is becoming a genuine reality. Several corporations have placed big bets on AR’s capabilities to continue to transform human interaction with the digital world, a world that is still in its early years but is growing fast.
By compiling a list of some of the big players, and their respective strong suits, some light will hopefully be shed on how these pieces all play together. Ultimately, AR is a massive opportunity. These big corporations have shown success with chances like these before, so there is some confidence of success, but failure is always a possibility, if not a certainty for some.

iOS vs Android

Google and Apple are primed to continue the iOS v. Android fight in the AR space. ARKit is Apple’s augmented reality mass market solution, to be released alongside iOS 11. Coming at the September 12th launch event primed to put forth the 10th anniversary iPhone, iOS 11 is just around the corner. A couple hundred million iPhones and iPads will immediately become capable of running ARKit apps, and from the demos so far, there will be some good ones.
Google just announced ARCore, the Android equivalent, a couple days ago. It’s not as clear, though, the number of devices that will be capable of running ARCore, since the Android space is more fragmented. Devices hoping to run ARCore will need the perfect combination of fast enough hardware, properly calibrated sensors, and running the latest version of Android. Luckily for Google, since ARCore is fairly resource intensive, mainly newer top of the line devices will be able to run it, and those are typically a bit more up to date when compared to the entire Android device base.

Microsoft, Snap and the Chipmakers

Microsoft is another big player in this space, yet is still staying somewhat under the radar. Realistically, they have been making Xbox Kinect and it’s related software for years, and while this is a completely different use case for AR, it is a use case nonetheless.
Then comes Snapchat, who has actually already released some augmented reality hardware, the Spectacles. At only $150, this seemingly useless gadget actually displays some powerful use cases of augmented reality, and leads me to believe that Google got massive amounts of data on the uses of spectacle based AR devices with the Google Glasses. It is also fairly clear that Apple Glasses are not far behind.
Then come the chipmakers that will be providing the physical hardware for all this amazing software. To name a few, Nvidia (NVDA), AMD, Intel (INTC), and Himax (HIMX) are primed for massive chip demand. Considering the computational needs of augmented reality, this demand will only go up from where it is today.

Facebook and Occulus

Let’s not forget Facebook, whose purchase of Occulus in 2014 along with it’s most recent F8 developer conference announcements seems to also prime the company for some big augmented reality news in the near future.
While Occulus is a virtual reality headset company, virtual reality and augmented reality somewhat fit together quite nicely. Both involve similar needs in terms of computational muscle, but augmented reality requires a much more generic approach to software. The world is a big and varied place, and there are so many environments that we can take our augmented reality enabled devices into. The Arctic tundra is very different in it’s lighting and other characteristics when compared to the depths of the Amazonian rainforest, and this has a huge impact on how AR software should overlay items within these different places.
Augmented reality has more potential, though, to provide value in the real world. There has yet to be a massively compelling reason to dive into virtual reality, other than some cool looking gaming experiences. With augmented reality, though, software products that affect real people every day will be possible.
Once a usable and useful spectacle based AR solution comes out, that’s when augmented reality will really take off. Objects around our world will have a digital layer, viewable only in the appropriate augmented “dimension”. This is already something some apps are primed to launch alongside iOS 11.

Conclusion

To recap, the AR9 will be: AMD, Apple, Facebook, Google, Himax, Intel, Microsoft, Nvidia, Snapchat. Will there be more? Definitely, and several companies will likely have meteoric rises to fame with augmented reality’s mainstream adoption. For now, though, this group of nine will definitely make augmented reality waves around the globe.

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Companies

Financing for Green Sustainable Development

 3 min read / 

Green Sustainable Development

Green sustainable development has been on multiple discussions channels. Talks, seminars, workshops, you name it. However, financing it has not been thoroughly discussed. How do we finance sustainable green development? Is it profitable for companies who do so? Is the rate of return high enough to cover the cost of investing in green technologies?

No doubt, green sustainable technology is an expensive technology with no clear ROI. Venturing into green technologies may be a blind-man guided only by a voice in his head. Yes, green sustainable technology yields a significant Marginal Social Benefit (MSB). But often, MSB is non-quantifiable.

Leading this social-technology movement, Jeffrey Sachs, with the support of foundations such as the Jeffrey Cheah Institute, established the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) centre in the backdrop of academics – Sunway University.

The aim is to directly address the issues for SDGs and to ensure the goal set in the Paris Climate Agreement is able to be achieved successfully.

Now, as mentioned, private firms are both afraid and pessimistic about green sustainable development. Many do not see the outcome of this initiative and are not concerned about the environment. The technology is costly, and some firms are even struggling to break-even at their current costs. Lack of momentum from firms involved in similar industries and lack of financial support has made venturing into green technology unattractive.

On 14th of January 2018, pioneers and advocates from across the globe were invited to join a workshop at Sunway University. The idea was to bring together a group of academics, from the Asian Development Bank Institute to representatives from New Zealand and Austria, to discuss how to finance green sustainable developments. It attracted a number of firms involved or who wanted to be involved in this movement.

Financing models such as the SIB model and the Yozma model were introduced by Dr Hee Jin Noh. Papers on the theoretical relationships between a firm, a bank, and households were presented by Dr Maria Teresa Punzi. And the outcome of these series of workshops will be a book, which aims to provide a better insight and guideline for green financing, written by Dr Hee.

Also presented was a case study, comparing different countries. Associate Professor Ivan Diaz-Rainey had made comparisons on some successful countries, looking at European countries versus New Zealand and Australia. In the case study, countries were compared, and recommendations were made on how to make green financing successful. Though the definition and KPIs of a successful green development country are still vague, countries from Europe are exemplary on the ‘theory to practice’ phase.

While there is a significant increase in awareness and wanting to be involved by private firms, it needs to be supported by the government more. Regulators need to provide sufficient information to assist private firms venturing into green technology or green development. A healthy government support will increase the chance of a firm venturing into green development being successful. And these are the baby steps needed in order for transformation at city-scale or nationwide-scale.

Keep reading |  3 min read

Global Affairs

Smart Cities Take Off

Smart cities

Big tech deals took off in 2017 as big tech firms strived to make smart cities a reality. 

Editor’s Remarks: In 2017, 35 agreements were reached between various cities around the world and big tech companies – a huge increase from the eight that were agreed in 2016. Alphabet has launched a project to develop a miniature smart city in 12 acres of land it purchased in Toronto. Meanwhile, Alibaba is leveraging digital infrastructure in Macau, where its smart transport systems will hopefully improve efficiency for the municipal government. Saudi Arabia has also announced a plan to build a new city, to be named NEOM, which will rely fully on renewable energy as well as self-driving vehicles and drones.

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Europe

Bayeux Tapestry on Loan

Bayeux Tapestry UK

Emmanuel Macron has offered to loan the famous tapestry to the UK in an effort to improve relations.

Editor’s Remarks: The offer is expected to be announced this Thursday, when Macron will meet UK officials at the Anglo-French summit at Sandhurst. The Bayeux Tapestry was commission by William the Conquerer’s brother to celebrate his 1066 conquest of England and depicts the Norman king defeating the Anglo-Saxon ruler King Harold. Although it was made in England, the piece – which measures about 35 square metres – has remained in France for the past 940 years. At the upcoming summit, Macron is also expected to petition the UK to join his combined European military initiative – a move many expect Britain’s new defence secretary Gavin Williamson to push back on.

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