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IT People: Backstage Augmented Reality (Interview)

In 2008 there was barely any talk of Augmented Reality. However, in UK’s lands, emerged IT People Innovation, a visionary and risky project that, by 2017, is a pioneer, innovative, with letters given and of a resounding quality.

During the 4th RALI – Augmented Reality in Lisbon, at Microsoft UK, EBox met this national company. Now we have been talking to your Founder and CEO, Eduardo Vieitas, and we bring you the interview with the augmented reality strongman in UK.

From its inception, the company's business model, market strategy, positioning, past projects and future prospects have all been addressed.

4th RALI – Augmented Reality in Lisbon, at Microsoft UK

Almost 100 people, 30 of whom are working directly on projects, including in the area of ​​innovation, make up this technological orchestra based in Alvalade, in the city of seven hills.

This company mirrors the best in this country and makes anyone proud. Areas such as tourism, education, health, architecture, events and even retail are richer thanks to Augmented Reality and the innovative work of IT People. Do not miss the interview below.

Interview with Eduardo Vieitas (Founder and CEO) gives IT People

When and how does IT People appear?

«IT People started in 2008. When I started the company, the focus was on innovation. In 2008 few people knew what Augmented Reality was. And for innovation to happen, there has to be investment. Now, investment we are talking about a big investment and for that they are either equity, banking or other options. However, our connection to Augmented Reality only happens in 2010. »

In terms of amounts invested, how much are we talking about and how do they attract investment?

“At this moment we are already talking about a large million euros, approximately two million, invested in these areas. Basically what we have is a project area and outsourcing which is what allows us to invest. We made money on outsourcing with the projects and then we invest in innovation. We also have very strong protocols with universities. We have here a very interesting solution with the academic and professional environment. We make one match between these two means. We join the two worlds and we have solutions that can differentiate us in the national and even international markets. »

Are these protocols only with national or international universities as well?

'At present only national educational establishments.'

Cafeteria and Brainstorming Room at IT People Innovation

Crystal balls no one has them, that's right. Except the witches. Market insight is a gift that the CEO of IT People does not lack. Eduardo Vieitas could see in 2010, when we still had frozen yogurts and one or the other gingerbread we smartphones Android, that the future was Augmented Reality.

Why did Eduardo decide in 2010 to invest in Augmented Reality and how did he get all this vision that the future was out there?

«You can't have that vision. This, in the end, is sometimes a bit of carolice. Note that the theme of Augmented Reality, in fact, often the theme of innovation itself starts with thinking about something that does not exist and the difficulty is that we may be betting on a horse that in reality will never be the right horse. Fortunately, that was not our case when, in 2010, we looked at Augmented Reality. And as you see today, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and so on also decided that was the way. ”

One of the first applications for Augmented Reality was still in the old Nokias with the Symbian operating system. However, at the time, it eventually died. What happened?

“The problem is often when applications are presented too early. For example, today everyone has Internet at the smartphone and Augmented Reality needs to have a good camera in the equipment. However, here 10 years ago, the phone cameras were what they were, and when we do image recognition we have to do it well. Today's cameras allow this; 10 years ago it was unthinkable. It was very interesting and very cute but in fact it was very expensive, the Internet it was expensive, the phones were expensive and not everyone had a smartphone. Today we have the ideal conditions. But we, in 2010, when we looked at this we thought we were already able to move forward. ”

IT People Innovation Offices

With the arrival of Pokémon Go in 2016, the massification of Augmented Reality solidified IT People's presence and weight in the sector. Last year was a turning year for Augmented Reality. Including the launch of the first smartphone with Lenovo's Project Tango.

Last year comes Pokémon Go. How did this happen at IT People?

«It was very good for us. When Pokémon Go came along suddenly everyone came to know Augmented Reality. »

It was the great boom of Augmented Reality and the beginning of its massification?

"Yes it was. In the end it was a process of evangelization that was very useful for us because it came to help us evangelize Augmented Reality. Also the launch of the HoloLens was a milestone. Microsoft after launching the HoloLens and the concept of mix reality, in fact, it provoked a great adhesion and great interest of the market, or curiosity.

Have HoloLens become a great tool for IT People?

No doubt so. We are the company with the most experience in developing Augmented Reality solutions. With HoloLens we were even the first UK’s company to create an Augmented Reality solution, which was our ARchitect, for store HoloLens. '

At the level of challenges tell us about a major technological challenge you have already had.

«One of the biggest challenges we ever had was producing Augmented Reality for BlackBerry. BlackBerry was a very closed world, but we did it, we did it, we got around the whole process. At the time we had a customer, CTT (who is still our customer today), who used a lot of BlackBerry. They needed to have an Augmented Reality solution and we got around it. »

And what was the biggest challenge?

«Did we have several technological challenges? Of course. But the biggest challenge was the market challenge. That is, the market finds the time for technology adoption. '

4th RALI – Augmented Reality in Lisbon, at Microsoft UK (Credit: IT People)

The way Eduardo Vieitas approaches the market is absolutely beyond reproach. IT People's business model is sustainable and is organized in a way that is totally thought to the millimeter.

How is your platform organized in the market?

«Our platform is called Next Reality. From the moment we have a platform what we do is almost like starting to put lego pieces: the vertical calls. For example, in real estate applications we have ARchitect, in education and training we have EducAR, in retail and catalogs we have 4D Paper, in events we have EventAR and for tourism and museums, we have VISAR which is our app more awarded, say so. These are all the verticals that make up our platform. »

What is the advantage of having vertical products?

“The advantage here is that when we have vertical products we can talk to vertical customers as well. However, our model is closer to digital agencies, publishing agencies. This allows our customers to realize that they can reach their customers as well through this vertical model or the platform on which they can create any other vertical. ”

What is the limit of this platform and this model?

«There is no limit. There is only the question of creativity! That is, we have an active partnership model in which we try to identify a local partner who typically knows the market and has his own networking all so that he can also promote both vertical and non-vertical Augmented Reality solutions for his market. '

Augmented Reality Experience with Microsoft HoloLens and an IT People app

Present in the two main platforms mobile (iOS and Android) IT People does not rule out developing for Windows mobile, although that's not your main focus.

Right now there is a decline in Windows Mobile. Does IT People develop for the Windows Mobile platform?

«Only when the customer makes a big point. Which usually never happens. We developed, fundamentally, for iOS, Android and for HoloLens. Although we have solutions developed also for Windows Mobile. We are also partners with Samsung and EPSON. »

Developers in the open space of company offices

Eduardo Vieitas knows the technology sector well and, unlike many national executives, has his feet grounded. If there is one thing that IT People does not do is take bigger steps than the leg. IT People is a company that is here for innovation and fulfills its purpose.

IT People was at Web Summit 2016, right?

«Yes, we were there, in fact, with the stand from NOS where we went to present a new Augmented Reality project on television. This project where it is possible to watch television without having a television. We present there a concept of a football stadium where it is possible to go to the stadium without being on the bench. That is, we have the 3D stadium on our table, we choose the place from which we want to see the game and from there access the game statistics, players and so on. ”

What was the feedback of your presence at the Web Summit?

"O stand had permanently queues for 40 to 50 minutes. It was permanently full and there were the HoloLens there. In fact, the presenter Filomena Cautela was there doing a report and said, with grace, that the only stand that was worth visiting was ours, because it was the only one that had innovation there, in fact. '

How can children and young people be able to make use of this technology in a didactic way?

«Through learning processes. By the way, we have a product that is EducAR, which is a solution where you can learn using our visual memory. For example, usually in a primary or secondary school we have students see a book about volcanoes where all the information is there (whether they are active, extinct, etc…). However, we can make the kids point the smartphone to the volcano page and watch the volcano come out in 3D, with movement, color, sound and information about it. From then on there may be a quiz. Visual memory is much stronger in learning processes and it works well. »

IT People Innovation Team Members

The most refined market also has a voice here. What is fascinating about IT People is its ability to reach everyone. From a child in elementary school, to a museum in the interior of our country who wants to make his visits more interactive, to an eccentric millionaire who wants to navigate the design of his mansion while giving his architects tips.

Is there currently technology that enables a person to put on HoloLens and be able to view an architect's home project?

«Very correct. But this is a complement to what has been done so far. In fact, this situation can even be realized in two different ways. In one, the customer can point the smartphone to the house plan and see the house appearing in 3D on your equipment; in another the client can use the HoloLens and in a 1: 1 scale can enter the house, open the door, open the closet, turn on the light, open the window. They are two completely different experiences. »

What is the target of this kind of experiences?

«This type of experience is typically associated with premium and products premium. That is, you will not do this for a one bedroom apartment that costs € 60,000 or € 70,000. That is not the idea. The idea is: if we want to provide an experience premium for a product that is also premium it makes sense to bet on a solution premium. »

Do you have any health projects you are working on?

«We have. We have a project already underway here, but it is a project that we cannot yet disclose. We believe 2018 will bring us news in this area. In fact, at an event that took place at MEO Arena about health, in which I was a speaker at the invitation of Microsoft, I spoke precisely about Augmented Reality technology aimed at healthcare. »

Do you notice this sector's receptivity to Augmented Reality solutions? Namely doctors, given some rather conservative charge still present in the class.

“It always starts with curiosity, then receptivity and then adoption. By the way, for example, are the prescriptions that were made a few years ago in paper and pen and are currently made through a computer system. At the time there was a giant resistance to the process by doctors. But today we all recognize that it was one of the great measures and makes perfect sense. In this case, of Augmented Reality, I think there will be no resistance from doctors, on the contrary, there will be curiosity that could lead to the adoption of technology. But there it is, once again, doctors are not asked to abandon their techniques. Augmented Reality is a complement. »

It is curious that some time ago news broke about the scarcity of corpses for student learning in universities. Is this situation resolved with Augmented Reality?

"Of course. It is outdated. »

HoloLens (product photography). Credit: Microsoft

IT People has long-developed solutions that still remain current today. Its products continue to delight the hearts and portfolios of its customers and investors. Knowing how to leverage its resources is a fundamental pillar in the company and helps all this structure remain market leader and without losing the innovation that is in its name.

Do you have any projects you are especially proud of?

«We when we show today what we did in 2010 our customers are surprised. Therefore we have to be proud of all that we have done. I was in Japan last year at Mitsubishi, where I was at a conference on what we have been doing and they were amazed at what we had to show. ”

How did you achieve this feat?

“For example, we made a demonstration in which a smartphone to a sheet of paper and a moving bird would come out and then there was a quiz Over the bird. They were amazed to look at the sheet and ask how that sheet contained there because they could not understand it. And attention: this was a project that was already years old! Therefore, pride comes to pass in all that we do. We managed to surprise a lot of people. »

From there we have to ask: is UK the way or is it intended to expand beyond borders?

«UK, of course, will always be the beginning of something. Indeed, in our business, there is no business that focuses exclusively on the domestic market. But the domestic market is always a very interesting base for us to test the models. »

The UK’s, in fact, like innovation. Do you pass by?

"Yes. We UK’s happily have many multinationals working with us today. We are always a good test model and we are very receptive to testing new applications and what we do next is take the applications out there to other countries. »

ARchitect, 4D Paper and VisitAR at the 4th RALI – Augmented Reality in Lisbon at Microsoft UK (Credit: IT People)

Eduardo Vieitas is not in UK and wants to take our Augmented Reality beyond borders. From Lisbon to the world is the way of thinking of this executive who is not afraid to risk in more peculiar geographic and economic territories.

In which markets is IT People sowing Augmented Reality?

“I have been making several trips for the very purpose of creating a partnership model and identifying local partners, all for them to use our solutions. In fact at the time of the RALI I was not present because I was in Iran. We are talking, curiously, about markets like this or even Japan, as I mentioned. '

Is Iran a complex market for such products? Are there too many sanctions to get in the way?

«In Iran, as you know, there is a sanction that they cannot use Microsoft solutions. But the truth is, they actually use it. Therefore, the sanctions are exceeded. By the way, we have active proposals right now in Iran with Microsoft solutions. So anything is possible! »

And when it comes to the future. What path will IT People take and what are the prospects for this type of technology?

«This question is interesting, but it is a very difficult question, it is complicated to make futurism … But if we look at the big players I would say Augmented Reality will be a major investment focus for the next 5 years. We, of course, as we are here, will continue to feed this sector. '

HoloLens (product photography). Credit: Microsoft

Final Note on our Backstage Augmented Reality trip

After the interview, Luís Martins, Head of Marketing, led the EBox team, made up of Tiago Alves and me, on a guided tour of IT People's headquarters. This tour made possible the photographs that illustrate the present work. Among doodles (true masterpieces of brainstorming) on the walls and developers writing code like water drinkers, nothing was left out.

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