Experts agree: it’s been too long since ARPost talked to 8th Wall. It’s been a busy past few months for all of us and their team is definitely no exception.
When we slated time to talk with their Vice President of Product, Tom Emrich, we knew we had to have at least four things on the agenda: Release 16, the IAB AR Board, Tetavi support, and the Carolina Herrera experience.
You Know About 8th Wall, Whether You Know It or Not
You’d be forgiven for not knowing about 8th Wall – at least, by name. They’re one of the most exciting companies in web-based augmented reality but their solutions are white label. So, while you may have used one of their experiences to interact with movie studios, record labels, retailers, and other organizations, you might not have known who was powering the process.
The last time that ARPost actually chatted with 8th Wall was in December of 2020 when they brought holiday cheer to malls across the country. However, they play such a huge role in the XR space that they’ve come up in our coverage of various events and conferences in the meantime. And there’s still so much more to say!
Diving Into Release 16
To move in chronological order, 8th Wall announced “Release 16” all the way back in April. The update includes a number of improvements to their already powerful AR engine, including:
- 50% more accurate Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM);
- Up to 70% faster frame rate on some devices;
- More precise target tracking;
- Smarter video recording.
“Release 16 is the biggest update to our AR engine since its inception,” Emrich told ARPost. “Overall, it means that the experiences feel more real.”
Target tracking can be used on printed images and branded packaging, “turning a package into an experience.” It can also recognize images or patterns on objects and products.
The improved video recording doesn’t improve the experiences themselves, but it does make AR experiences easier for the user to capture and share. The videos can also be “amended” with end cards like additional information or calls to action so that people who view recordings are more likely to interact with the experience for themselves.
“AR needs to be seen and experienced in order for this new technology to be continually adopted,” said Emrich.
8th Wall on the Interactive Advertising Bureau
In May, 8th Wall announced that they had joined the Interactive Advertising Bureau Experience Center and appointed none other than Emrich to the board.
“As an industry body, it’s important for us to have representation across the ecosystem to empower brands to leverage AR where consumers are, whether that’s in-app or on the web,” IAB Experience Center Vice President, Zoe Soon, said in the announcement. “We’re so excited to welcome Tom and 8th Wall to the IAB Augmented Reality Board.”
The IAB conducts research and education related to interactive marketing and also contributes to industry standards and other documentation. Involvement with the IAB’s Augmented Reality Board means that 8th Wall will be working closely with other member organizations including Facebook, Google, and Verizon Media.
“I’m really excited about the group that they’ve put together,” said Emrich. Emrich said that in addition to allowing 8th Wall to share the experience that they’ve developed over the years, their involvement in The IAB “shows that WebAR is a today-technology.”
More Volumetric Capture Offerings from Tetavi
“8th Wall has become the home for holograms on WebAR since our initial integration with Microsoft Mixed Reality Capture Studios in 2019,” said Emrich. “In 2020, we implemented an end-to-end solution.”
“One of the things that’s really exciting about Tetavi is that they have a really portable capture system,” said Emrich. “It allows this studio to materialize in various geographical regions.”
Setting up a Tetavi studio takes a couple of hours and four depth cameras. That’s opposed to incomplete captures using a single camera or going to a permanent multi-camera studio. Emrich said that this sets Tetavi up particularly well for working with the schedules of live talent because the studio can go to them.
Carolina Herrera and Evolving E-Commerce
Also in June, 8th Wall worked with fashion brand Carolina Herrera and roomscale AR experience group Beem to bring models wearing select items into their homes. The experience, hosted on the Carolina Herrera website, is intended to improve engagement and online sales. It bodes well for Carolina Herrera, but their implementation is also illustrative of a bigger picture.
“Carolina Herrera updated their e-commerce page with this call-to-action,” said Emrich. “The AR experience isn’t separated from the buying experience.”
This is similar to the implementation of video by online retailers, according to Emrich. Like the now-familiar implementation of video in e-commerce, the implementation of AR doesn’t just make online shopping more fun, it makes online shoppers more confident.
“The brick-and-mortar experience allows visitors to get up close and personal and see how the fabric moves on the hanger,” said Emrich. “AR replicates that experience.”
Watching All Eight Walls
A lot has happened in the AR space this year and 8th Wall has definitely been keeping up. We’ll be keeping an even closer eye on them moving forward – and we may or may not have been advised to keep our eyes open this summer.